Adobe acrobat PDF generated in the United states displaying incorrect characters for foreign customers.


Jan 21, 2011
The company I work for has to send documents to a few customers overseas in PDF format. We have never had an issue before with how we do this.

Recently one of our customers in UAE has been telling us that the documents we send dont always display correctly. Numbers may swap to characters or change values seemingly on their own.

Im pretty sure this is an encoding issue but for the life of me I cant seem to change the encoding on a PDF document in acrobat X standard.

Has anyone else run into this issue?


1. I use Acrobat to print online journal articles that I intend to use as reference in papers. I've had odd results with Acrobat X and XI, however in this is in the display of graphics in which a title...
I see two possibilities. (A) You're using a non-standard font, or (B) your customer has got something wrong with their computer.

Numbers are pretty standard across all fonts, so even if you're trying to view the document using the wrong font, the numbers should remain numbers, not swap for characters (symbol fonts like Windings excepted). So I'd tend to favor explanation (B). Do any of your other UAE customers report the same problem? Or if this is your only UAE customer, have they tried viewing the PDF on another computer?

For explanation (A), track down the person(s) creating the document you're converting to a PDF. They've probably got some weird font installed and are using it because they think it looks slightly better. On other people's computers, Acrobat (or whatever PDF reader is being used) doesn't recognize the font so tries to swap it for the next closest thing. The U.S. version is probably swapping it for a different font than the UAE version.

This is one of the reasons you should always use standard fonts when creating documents for widespread distribution. Non-standard fonts need to be licensed by the programs or OS using them, else they won't be available. Microsoft, Adobe, etc. have gone through the trouble to create, buy, or pay for global licenses for standard fonts included with Windows or Adobe software so their customers can use them without having to deal with these sorts of issues. If your employee complains that their weird font looks so much better, point out that since they're the only ones who have it installed, they're the only ones seeing it. Everyone else is seeing the software's best guess at the closest equivalent font.

(Occasionally this issue crops up with PC documents viewed on a Mac, or vice versa. Though I believe Apple used Adobe fonts, and Microsoft's equivalent fonts were deliberately designed with the same character size and kerning to avoid this problem.)


Apr 7, 2012


1. I use Acrobat to print online journal articles that I intend to use as reference in papers. I've had odd results with Acrobat X and XI, however in this is in the display of graphics in which a title / headline would collide with a subtitle overlapping an image. This perplexed me a long while until I reliazed that the errors occurred when I had resized the page to enlarge the embedded charts and images.

2. You mention documents to the UAE and I'm wondering if these include English to Arabic translations or if the problem characters are Arabic.

__If there are Arabic characters, my thinking is to determine whether the fonts is an old version AXT . If so, change the font in the original documents to a modern Unicode Arabic and it may solve the problem. Then make new conversions to PDF. I've never done that and you may however need Fontlab or similar to convert AXT to Unicode if you don't have the modern font.

__ I was curious about this and made a quick page of English text in Adobe Illustrator CS6 that was simply translated to WP Arabic Sihafa (only character and not language translation). then, this page was published using Acrobat DC. As far as I can see, there are no unusual characters in the PDF version.

3. If the problem occur in the sending, then the problem may be the results of some level of transmission encryption fault, . If the email and attachments are transmitted encrypted, try sending a non-encrypted (non-sensitive content ) test document using the same fonts and encoding as the problem documents. However, the font encoding seems more likely especially if there are Arabic characters.