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Document 581

Improving the quality of graphics in PDF files

Version: 5.x - Scientific WorkPlace & Scientific Word


Creating PDF files from the Typeset menu can yield files containing poor-quality graphics.


PdfLaTeX supports only a few types of graphics: .png, .jpg, and .pdf. When you create a PDF file from your document, any graphics in other formats are converted to .png, .jpg, or .pdf format for inclusion in the final PDF file. The settings you make in the PDF Graphics Export Options dialog determine which format is used. Generally, the .png and .jpg graphics created for PDF files are of good quality, but .pdf graphics, which are created by a third-party conversion filter, may be problematic.


Solution 1: Use the latest build

The most recent program builds solve most of the graphic conversion problems. However, if you still see problems after installing the latest build, the instructions in Solution 2 and/or Solution 3 below may help.

Solution 2: Changing the PDF graphics export format

Using a raster export format for raster graphics can improve the quality of the final graphics.

  1. From the Typeset menu, choose General Settings.

  2. Choose PDF Graphics Settings.

  3. For both graphics and plots, set the format you want.

    The program is shipped with these defaults:

    Graphic Type Default Export Format Recommended Export Format
    vector graphic .pdf .pdf
    raster graphic .pdf .png
    the set of .jpg and .png files leave unchanged leave unchanged
    plot .pdf .pdf

  4. Choose OK to close the dialogs.

Solution 3: Changing the value in the registry subkey

This strategy applies only to converting graphics to .pdf format.

The filter behaves differently depending on whether pdfLaTeX the internal Windows graphics format directly or uses a temporary file for the conversion.

  • When pdfLaTeX uses the internal Windows graphics format, the resulting .pdf graphic has better resolution, but any text inside the graphic may be misplaced in the graphic or missing altogether. Also, images embedded in the graphic may be distorted.

    NoteThis is the default setting for Version 5.0 Build 2557 and later.

  • When pdfLaTeX uses a temporary file, the conversion process first creates a temporary .wmf file of the graphic and then creates a .pdf image from the temporary file. Any text in the resulting graphic is positioned correctly, but the graphic and the text may be grainy, more like a bitmap image.

    NoteThis is the default setting for Version 5.0 Build 2552.

In Version 5, the conversion method and thus the behavior of the graphics filter depends on a setting in the UserGraphicsExport registry key. Inside each key is a subkey whose value determines the conversion method:

Subkey value Conversion method
0 Internal graphics format
1 Temporary file

You can change the value of the registry subkey.

NoteDirectly changing the registry is recommended only for advanced users. Incorrect modifications of the registry can result in a system that will not start.

Remember that this change affects only those graphics exported as .pdf files. It has no effect on graphics exported as .jpg or .png files.

  1. Open the registry editor:

    1. From the Windows Start menu, choose Run.

    2. In the Run box, enter regedit and choose OK.

  2. Navigate to the registry key for PDF graphics conversions:

    • In SWP: HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\MacKichan Software\Scientific Workplace\5.50\UserGraphicsExport

    • In SW: HKEY_CURRENT_USER\Software\MacKichan Software\Scientific Word\5.50\UserGraphicsExport

  3. Double-click the GfxPDFExportFromFile entry.

  4. Change the value for the entry:

    • To convert graphics by using the internal graphics format directly, set the entry to 0.

    • To convert graphics by creating temporary graphics files, set the entry to 1.

  5. Choose OK.

  6. Open your document and modify it in some way, then save it.

    If you don't modify and save the document after changing the registry setting, the program won't create any new graphics when you create a new PDF file. Instead, it will use the existing graphics.

Other considerations

You may find that changing the setting for GfxPDFExportFromFile does not show an improvement. Graphics conversions can be affected by the particular graphics in your document and by the version of Windows you are using. In particular, conversion results may differ between Windows XP/2000/NT and Windows Me/98. You may also notice problems with colors or incomplete conversion.

Last revised 05/12/06

The information in this frame was created with Scientific WorkPlace.

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