Common PDF problems: Reflow

20 Jun

Common PDF problems: Reflow

No matter how long you spend writing, formatting, editing and re-editing your book, the truth is that computers sometime seem to have a mind of their own… and things may not turn out the way you think they will.

For example, when converting your file to a PDF in preparation for printing, your file can go from looking like this:

to looking like this:

This is what we call reflow (when the text shifts on the page throughout the entire book).  This usually happens in one of the following circumstances:

1) When you’re converting your file (Word document, Publisher file, etc.) into a PDF

2) When a file is opened on a different computer than the one used originally to create it (This does not happen with PDF files, but is a common problem with Microsoft Word documents. Because not every computer has the same version of Word or the same fonts installed, the properties of the document can fluctuate if you send it to someone else or open it on a different computer.)

One way to prevent text from re-flowing like this is to use page breaks instead of hitting “return” to move text to a new page.

Add page breaks between each section or chapter of your book, or whenever you want the text following the page break to begin at the top of a new page.

To do this in Microsoft Word, make sure your cursor is placed before the text that you want shifted to a new page. Then, go to Insert and select Page Break.

Most companies require PDFs for printing because of the second reflow circumstance: unlike other file types, PDF files cannot be edited and the text will not move when the files are opened on different computers.

Issues like reflowcan be a headache but can be avoided. Problems like this are why it’s important to double check your work during each step of the process. It may be time consuming, but you’ll be glad you did it in the long run.  After all, why spend your time, energy and money on something if you’re not sure it’ll turn out the way you want?

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