PostScript Printing

Printing from QuarkXPress 6.x for Mac OS X

Font Embedding

The Good

According to the forum moderator at, Mac OS X's printer drivers automatically embed fonts. This means that when you've created a document in an application like QuarkXPress or InDesign or Word, when you select File:Print, the Apple printer drivers convert your document into PostScript code that contains the instructions that your printer needs to draw the fonts exactly the way you see them on your Mac monitor.

The Bad

However QuarkXPress 6.0 and 6.1 examine the PostScript Printer Description (PPD) file associated with the printer you've chosen as your target printer, scan the list of fonts that are listed as resident fonts on your printer, then THEY DO NOT DOWNLOAD THOSE FONTS.

OK. So your printer says it has Times and your document was written in Times. They ought to look the same. Right?

Wrong! Typefaces are not protected by the copyright laws, so the Times fonts you see on your workstation monitor resemble the printed version using the resident fonts, but they're not identical and the letters may be wider or narrower than the ones on your workstation. This means that the text will reflow to fit the space between the margins and you'll end up with more or fewer pages at the printer than you had at your workstation, and Tables of Contents and Indices will be inaccurate.

The good news

is that this problem has been resolved in QuarkXPress version 6.5, where all fonts available to the application at the time you select File:Print will be embedded in the PostScript code, so what you see on your monitor will be what you see at the printer. If you can't afford the upgrade, your alternative, at your own risk, is to modify the PPD you use with QuarkXPress, deleting the list of resident fonts except for Courier. This would delete the exception list QuarkXPress uses when compiling the font metrics into the PostScript code to be sent to your printer.

Page Independence

One other caution: According to the moderator of the Quark support site, QuarkXPress does not write Page Independent PostScript code. This means that for large documents there is a real likelihood that the PostScript interpreter at your printer will run out of resources before it finishes translating the PostScript code into machine language that tells the printer where to place the dots on the paper, and you'll end up with a PostScript error and not a print job. There is no one-step workaround for this. You can either send your large job in sections and join them together at the printer or you can create a Press-Quality PDF with fonts and graphics embedded, open it in Adobe Acrobat Reader, select the printer icon from the toolbar (not the file:print command combination from the menu bar), select the Advanced button and set your Font and Resource Policy to "Send for Each Page".


This is still a work in progress and I'll try to simplify this document and to keep it up to date.

Created 12/15/04 by
Norman A. Teck