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Our thanks to Martin Szummer. This information was adapted from his Web page "How to generate portable PostScript".

Generating Portable PostScript

Generate a lowest common denominator PostScript!

  • Use Postscript Level 1 format.
    Postscript Level 2 does not add anything essential.
  • Use 300 dpi resolution.
    300 dpi resolution is more standard and prints with reasonable quality on 600 dpi printers. Supposedly, the converse is not true: 600 dpi Postscript looks bad on 300 dpi printers.
  • Do not explicitly specify paper format.
    Unfortunately, many programs force you to select a paper size. Often, it can be edited out of the Postscript file. Instead, let the printer decide whether it can print a document with specific dimensions.
  • No printer specific codes.
    Make sure the document starts with %!Adobe .... and does not begin and end with Ctrl-D characters.
  • Use Adobe Document structuring comments (DSC).
    This will allow others to browse and print specific pages of the document.
  • Use standard Postscript fonts.
    Beware of look-alikes, for example "New Times Roman" instead of the correct "Times Roman". The 13 standard Postscript fonts are:
    Symbol (Symbol)
  • If you use nonstandard fonts, you must embed them into the postscript. Specify that the fonts be sent as outlines (also called Type 3 fonts).

Portable Postscript from TeX and LaTeX

TeX and LaTeX by default embed bitmapped fonts into the Postscript documents. These fonts are resolution dependent and produce poor results when printed at other resolutions (e.g. when previewed on the screen, or when printed on 300 dpi printers instead of 600dpi).

TeX and LaTeX - Using subsetted fonts in TeX results in missing characters in the resulting PDF file produced by Acrobat Distiller. In the PostScript file, TeX assigns the same name to different font subsets of the same basefont which fools the Distiller into thinking it has already seen the font. Solution: Configure TeX (or LaTeX) to not subset fonts when the PostScript file is generated.

Portable Postscript from LaTex/dvips

The latest versions of dvips have disabled document structuring comments by default. the default settings of the DSC comment flag. dvips latest version: changed default of DSC flag; you must generate DSC comments for PsUtils to work.

Portable Postscript using Microsoft Windows Drivers

How to set up the printer driver

We want to set up the driver to print to disk, and maximize the portability of the document.

Windows NT 4.0

  1. Select a driver for a 300 dpi, PS level 1 printer:
    e.g. LaserWriter Personal NT
  2. Disable Job Control Codes and Enable Page independence
    Double click on printer
    under: File-> Document defaults Postscript Options -> Generate Job Control Code: No
    Page Indpendence: Yes

Windows 95

  1. Select a driver for a 300 dpi, PS level 1 printer:
    e.g. Apple LaserWriter
  2. Disable Ctrl-D after jobs.
    Postscript->Advanced->Ctrl-D do not send after job (ow. "Offending command")
  3. Add Adobe Document structuring comments.
    Postscript->Optimize for portability

Postscript links

Richards PS page.
Excellent collection of Postscript links.
Fixing PostScript files
Troubleshoot Postscript.
Postscript resources
Links to FAQs, Postscript tutorials, newsgroups.
Postscript FAQ v. 2.3
Unfortunately old, from fall 1994. Could not find newer one.
Postscript Corner, University of Zurich
Discusses the Postscript language, fonts and others.
The technical solutions database is occasionally useful. AdobePS Postscript driver is available. This driver is supposedly better than the driver included with Windows 95, but is not compatible with Windows NT.
Online postscript generation from LaTeX documents.
This may be an excellent solution for LaTeX document portability.


Adobe Document Structuring Comments (DSC) (in pdf format)

Fixing specific Postscript problems

Printers prints ASCII file with Postscript source

Make sure that the Postscript file starts with the two characters: %!

FrameMaker 4 explicit paper size

Symptom: FrameMaker 4 specifies what paper size is used, e.g. Legal, and the printer has only A4. The printer then outputs a page saying: Can't select requested paper size for Frame print job!
Solution: Edit the Postscript file as follows.

Search for: /PageSize
At the end of the line it says: stopped
Append to that the words:  pop false
More FrameMaker 4 Postscript problems

FrameMaker 5 paper size

FrameMaker 5 Postscript defines a variable FMAllowPaperSizeMismatch to allow or disallow printing on a different paper size. Locate this variable definition and set it to true as below.
/FMAllowPaperSizeMismatch            true def

FrameMaker repair filters

Other Portable Postscript pages

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Last changed: 16 March, 1998 efc
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