Richard H. Zander
Res Botanica, a Missouri Botanical Garden Web Site
October 24, 2007
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Some publishers offer only a low resolution “Web quality” PDF to authors, while others (e.g. Allen Press) charge a premium price for a full resolution PDF. The low resolution PDFs are commonly only 72 dpi, and are only suitable for “eBook” use in that they look fine on a screen but print poorly. The printed type is fuzzy, and can sometimes be fixed by setting your printer to 1200 dpi. The first page prints fine on a Postscript printer, but each succeeding page must be printed separately.


I have found that the obvious solution of using the crippled PDF to create a PS or EPS file using Adobe Acrobat then recreating a high-resolution PDF from the PS or EPS file is apparently impossible (at least to me). On the other hand, a PDF suitable for immediate desktop printing can be created from the crippled “eBook” PDF using easily available free software. That PDF can be placed on the Web as a “reprint” that is entirely adequate for distribution. The idea for this was from an article on the Web that indicated that one can make decent print copies of crippled PDFs using GSView and Ghostscript.


How-To Steps:


1. Install (or have installed, or find someone with these installed) GSView and Ghostscript (free programs available on the Web).


2. Use GSView File menu to “Select” the crippled PDF file.


3. “Convert” the file using “pdfwrite” device and “600 dpi” resolution (or 720 dpi).


4. Save as Filename.pdf because GSView does not automatically attach the “.pdf”.


This may not increase resolution of illustrations of low eBook resolution, but the type will print well. Make sure the page size is correct for the original publication.



Thanks to Neal Evenhuis for pointing out that this only works for Windows, OS/2 and Linux platforms.  No solution yet for Mac users who might pursue the option of saving to PS or EPS and making a new PDF with Acrobat, or some different brand of PDF software from the PS or EPS file. - October 26, 2007.



Note on August 14, 2008: If you have the original images of the figures, and they are poorly resolved in the reprint you get from the publisher, you can use the image replace function in NitroPDF, amazing PDF-modifying software for only about US$100 (search the Web for this). Snazzies up the illustrations in a jiffy. Use its optimizing feature to reduce final product to 50 percent to bring down file size without sensible degradation of the PDF. No, NitroPDF does not increase the resolution of the font, dagnabit, just the images.