[scribus] pdf file size once more

John Ghormley KJ4UFG kj4ufg at sera.org
Sun Apr 29 04:22:47 UTC 2012

On Sat, Apr 28, 2012 at 10:53 PM, Joe Zeff <joe at zeff.us> wrote:

> On 04/28/2012 07:07 PM, John Ghormley KJ4UFG wrote:
>> The question is, of course, how can a 38 mb container hold all the data in
>> a 527 mb container?  Does InDesign use some compression technique that
>> Scribus does not?
> AIUI, Scribus places every single character separately, instead of placing
> each line as a unit.  This allows for very fine placement and control,
> including letter by letter kerning if that's what you need, but it also
> means that the resulting file is going to be larger than it would have been
> otherwise.  I don't know if that's the whole explanation for the size of
> your file, but I'm sure it's part of it.  Also, if you embedded or outlined
> any fonts that InDesign didn't, that would explain part of the increase.
>  And, I'm sure that there are other reasons that I'm not aware of.

Thanks, Joe.

There is likely more about pdf files that I do NOT know than there is that
I do know.  That said, I've heard this explanation before, but it does not
stand the test of logic, IMO.  Line placement as opposed to character
placement seems a bit unreasonable to me as an explanation for a difference
in file size, in my case, using the EXACT same data.

If I understand what a glyph is, then I would accept that each glyph might
be located in Scribus by a set of coordinates therefore making the file
size larger, but even in ANY other pdf creation software, there has to be a
set of coordinates for at least each letter or graphic object, otherwise,
subscript and superscript, for instance, would be difficult if only one set
of coordinates were specified for each line.

I believe I do understand kerning's technicalities well enough to
understand that, by definition, it is a letter by letter thing, regardless
what software does the kerning.  No offense intended, Joe, but think about
that for a moment.  That argument just doesn't seem to make sense.

Also, if InDesign requires my fonts to be embedded in order to reproduce
them as intended, then how would an InDesign file communicate that
information when it creates a copy of the same pdf?

The fact is, I sent one pdf that required, I am assuming, only a single
copy of each font information, regardless of how many instances of the font
appeared in the text within that file.  But, to create the imposition, my
527 MB file had to be broken into pages which meant the creation of a new
pdf file for each page.  Then those individual pdfs were placed in the
proper alignment so that the press prints four pages in one pass.
Therefore, the pdf containing the imposition of my single file with it's
embedded fonts, becomes 60 files, EACH with the necessary font data for the
fonts used on that page.  Since I use the same font on many different
pages, that means my primary font data will appear on an estimated 75% of
the 60 pages.  Which, in turn, means about 45 of the individual files will
have that font data in each file.  Or, stated another way, the font data,
in my case, is 45 times larger than it is in the original Scribus pdf
file.  Now, when InDesign saves the 60 separate pdfs into a single pdf, it
may eliminate the multiple instances of the font data.  But, there must
still be one, wouldn't you say?  And yet, this resulting file is smaller
than the original by a factor of 14 times?

I do not mean to denigrate your explanation, but I've heard it since I
started using Scribus (which, BTW, I love!)  However, it just doesn't make
sense to me that InDesign can save a page in a given amount of disk space
and Scribus requires 14 times that much disk space to save the same

Certainly, I do not have to know why this is, nor will I quit using Scribus
to produce my magazine because it creates monster pdfs!  But, being a
logical and reasonable type of guy, I strive to understand such
differences.  Also, smaller files can be transfered from one geographical
location to another electronically much faster than larger files.  I've
even had to resort to burning my print ready pdf to a DVD and driving it to
the pre-press folks because FTP across the Internet was going to take more
than 12 hours!

Again, there is much I do not know and the answer may lie in that area.
But, if so, I'd like to be aware of it and then decide I do not want to
learn the intricacies of the technology, rather than have someone else
decide that for me.  No anger or animosity here.  I just want more
understanding of the differences between a 527 MB pdf and a 38 MB pdf both
of which are greyscale CMYK and contain EXACTLY the same data..

An interesting aside:  My full color cover, which is four pages, was from
Scribus sized at 151 MB.  The imposition file created by InDesign was 36
MB.  Not nearly as big a difference in size as the greyscale pdfs, but
still a significant difference.

John Ghormley  KJ4UFG
Editor, SERA *Repeater Journal*
4010 Kandace Hills Dr.
Walkertown, NC  27051
editor at sera.org
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