PDF documents are the way to combine typesetting with content in a way that Web pages can't; online, designers are limited to the fonts installed on the end-user's computer, but PDFs can have any font embedded within them. What this also means is that you can extract one of those fonts to use yourself, if the fancy strikes you and the licensing isn't a problem. Most PDF readers don't include a way to do this, but other tools are available to make the job easy.
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Use Adobe Acrobat Reader's tools to find out what fonts a PDF includes. You've probably already got the program installed on your computer; if not, it's available for free. (See Resources for links.) Simply open a PDF, and click "File" > "Properties" in the menu bar. Switch to the Fonts tab to view a list of every font embedded in the document.
Extract a font from a PDF using the Online Font Converter. This free, Web-based tool streamlines the process. Simply click "Skip login" and confirm that you're not doing anything illegal. Click the "Select fonts" button, but open your PDF rather than a font file. Wait for it to upload and then choose a format to extract the font to: ttf is generally the best choice. A link appears, allowing you to download the font and use it as you like. The one drawback is that the Converter will only grab a single font per file, which could pose a problem if your PDF has several.
Run FontForge, if you're a Linux user. This open-source program is designed to help you create your own fonts from scratch, but includes a font-from-PDF tool that allows you to rip as many fonts as you like. Simply start the program, and choose "Extract from PDF" in the Filter menu of the Open Font window. Click "OK" and choose which font you want to grab, from the list. Select "Compact" from the Encoding menu to strip any undefined characters and save it via "File" > "Generate Fonts." If you don't have Linux but want to use FontForge, you can download a Ubuntu live CD to run the operating system without losing anything on your hard drive, and install the program temporarily in your computer's RAM.
Tips and warnings
- Some fonts are protected by licenses that prevent their redistribution. Do some research on the font you're extracting beforehand to keep, as Shakespeare says, "o'th' windy side of the law."
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