I love graphic design and especially fonts, but I am an amateur at best… I barely use Photoshop and do most of my layouts (such as they are… this consists mainly of making posters for our local community band) in Word or PowerPoint.

Anyway, I was having trouble recently with a font that wouldn’t embed properly in a pdf file that I had made from the PowerPoint slide containing my poster design. The substitute system font came out looking OK on the print considering that this is, after all, a community band poster, and by no means a professional one, in the first place (and I had at least used WordArt, which I guess I need to stop mocking–I didn’t know it was as customizable as it is–to do the text that was the focal point, so that saved me from having the entire thing end up irredeemably weird-looking), but it would have been a lot nicer to have the original. I was a little bummed because one of our members does the reproduction for free, so I can’t really ask him to print another set… I’ve never had this embedding problem before, so it didn’t occur to me to ask him for a proof.

Still, I also email the file to the membership in case they want to make their own, and the poster goes out as an electronic announcement to our email list, so I wanted to at least rectify the problem before I did that. It seemed like the only way to be truly sure it would come out right would be to convert the text block in question to an image.

Now, I would love to learn how to create a good-looking image of text in Photoshop or Paint Shop Pro, but have been totally inept at this so far (almost certainly my own fault, but I just can’t figure it out despite copious googling and checking the help files). First I tried using the software’s text tool and saving the image as a transparent background gif. I eventually did get it through my head that this is not a format for print, so I tried again with a tif and other file types, using various settings. I have probably saved text “pictures” 50 times trying to get something that looks decent. But each time I import it into Word or PowerPoint, it looks like crap on a cracker, especially compared to the existing text box. The letters are blurry, pixellated, or otherwise unacceptable, no matter what options or anti-aliasing I select. I have also had this problem to some degree when trying to create simple images for use on items in the band’s Cafepress store. The images look basically good in the end, but I have to be careful to make them very large and scrutinize the results to avoid a lack of crispness.

So, back to what I know–Office–as much as I’m sure that makes most of you want to cry. 🙂 I tried WordArt again but the line spacing was constrained and wrong and, for some reason, pasting the WordArt object as a picture/drawing object and ungrouping it so I could manipulate the spacing (a suggestion I found) made the “i” character look weird. However, this gave me the idea that I could possibly also just select and Paste Special the original text box as an enhanced metafile. Voilà! The text I wanted, looking just as sharp and crisp as it did before, but in image form so hopefully I won’t run into any more embedding problems. This seems so simple, but it would never have occurred to me had I not seen the WordArt tip.

Anyway, I just wanted to share because sometimes these “101” types of suggestions are difficult to find by googling… either they are not widely applicable, or most people already know about them, so you tend to get higher-level results that are difficult to put into practice if you are a beginner. I mean, I’m sure this isn’t even considered good practice (not that anything else I do would be either), but at least it solved my problem. Hope it helps someone else!

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