What to do about fonts that won't embed in a PDF (Bembo)

dbonneville's picture

I have owned Bembo for so long I forgot where I got it. It was probably from a CS suite or maybe something else from the distant past. I'm not sure.

Either way, I was exporting a document from InDesign CS5 to PDF. As it compiled the pages, it gave me an error saying that due to licensing restriction, Bembo could not be embedded in the document. I have never seen this error before.

Does anyone know how to handle this? Do I need to buy Bembo again? How do I know, if I buy it, the same thing won't happen again? Is this an InDesign export to PDF error?

If anyone has any insight, please let me know. I could resort to Fontforge which I know precious little about (I got it installed but that's it) and see if I could save as a TTF (the fonts in question are OTF) but that sounds hoaky and I don't know if that would work or do anything at all.

Cristobal Henestrosa's picture


First of all, I assume your InDesign can do a PDF with any other font, so you can discard an InDesign failure.

The error you are reporting is very probably happening because the designer (or the company or someone else) decided to put this restriction into the font (in Fontlab, this option is called “embedding of this font is not allowed”). I think the main reason to do so is to enforce to every user to buy a license (in this case, the people who will watch or work with the PDF).

Two things:

—You would need to check the End User License Agreement (EULA) of this particular font, but I am pretty sure that if they put this restriction, they won’t let you to upgrade the permissions level. If this is the case, you may need to license a Bembo that doesn’t have such restrictions.
—But I’d try to know who designed/distributed this font in the first place. If you are on a Mac, you could check it out by opening the font with FontBook > Preview > Show Font Info. On a PC, I guess the foundry is shown if you double click it. I tell you this because 1), if you are going to buy a new license, you probably need to be sure that you are getting the exact same version so you can avoid text reflow; and 2), there are more than one Bembo: myfonts.com shows three typefaces with the same name, but I am almost certain that the three companies allow embedding on their fonts – they are Adobe, Monotype and Linotype. So probably your Bembo is a not very common version (or a version that someone else modified).

If you finally decide to buy a new license, you may want to contact the foundry to ask them if the chosen fonts have restrictions or, if they have, if by any chance you can change them.

And maybe someone on this forum can tell you if the Bembo he/she owns can be embedded.

Good luck!

oldnick's picture

On a PC, I guess the foundry is shown if you double click it

Right-click, then choose "Properties" from the Contextual Menu.

Cristobal Henestrosa's picture

I stand corrected. Thanks Nick!

Micha Mirck's picture

if you are on a PC download Font properties extension at http://www.microsoft.com/typography/truetypeproperty21.mspx Gives loads of info and also displays license info. If it's not in that font(file) it might be an old font.

Theunis de Jong's picture

Only FYI: I don't think there has ever been a version of InDesign that embedded non-embeddable fonts.

Your Bembo definitely did *not* come with one of the CS suites, because (a) it never came with this font, and even more so (b) all fonts that come with the CS suites are embeddable, no restrictions at all (which is, actually, very generous of Adobe).

Khaled Hosny's picture

which is, actually, very generous of Adobe

Indeed, since we all know that Adobe is giving its CS suits for free, with free upgrades too. No foundry should have been allowed to sell non-embeddable fonts to begin with, it is just ridicules and draconian.

dbonneville's picture

I'm still using Linotype FontExplorer X, so I did an Info, and found this:

Embedding right: Preview & Print embedding not allowed
Trademark: Copyright (c) 1990 Adobe Systems Inc...

Maybe it came with Pagemaker or something from eons ago when I was still PC.

Furthermore, it says TrueType (PC). I don't know where I got that version at all.

I went back to my font library and found the right version of Bembo. I have that PC TT version, but knew I had an OTF. The TT was turned on for this job when I turned on the first Bembo I came across.

Bert Vanderveen's picture

And when in extreme hurry one can convert text to outlines in InDesign. Not very nice, but in a cinch…

aluminum's picture

"Does anyone know how to handle this?"

You note the foundry information and never buy from them again.

Roger S. Nelsson's picture

This probably happened because the ttf font you were using was made without any embedding information at all. When the Adobe programs meet a TrueType or OpenType font without the embedding bit set it treats it as if it has the strictest embedding = not embeddable. This is a choice Adobe was asked to make to accommodate all those fonts already on the marked when the embedding bit was introduced (after the uproar that happened when they initially started with allowing embedding of such fonts as default ;)

So the ttf you had was either very old or made by an old conversion program. Probably not an "official" font file. No such problems with updated TrueType or OpenType fonts – most professional fonts are made as at least allowing print & preview embedding.

dbonneville's picture

Very interesting. I don't know when copyright notices are updated in fonts, but I did start on PageMaker 4 on PC back in 92 or so, and this particular font says (c) 1990 as noted above. My sneaking suspicion is that I've had this font since the early days, and in copying a project from PC to Mac when I made the leap in 98 or so to my first iMac, the font made it over.

Back in the early days of TTF, there wasn't even a format of file to embed a font in, correct? PDFs weren't invented until 93 or so, and didn't catch on in prepress for many years after that.

I'm completing a book on font combination samples, and of the 200 or so fonts used, this was the only one to give an issue when exporting the book to PDF, and I had never seen that issue before.

It's strange to think of a digital file being "old", but I guess some of us actually have fonts that could theoretically 20 years old or more, as they move from upgraded computer to upgraded computer over time.

Theunis de Jong's picture

If the file is that old, it was probably originally a Type 1 that was converted to TTF to be usable under Windows ... Pre-Adobe Type Manager, perhaps, or to avoid having to use it.

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