Neil Turner's Blog

Blogging about technology and randomness since 2002

Of PDFs and File Size

I’ve just uploaded a new PDF version of my CV. I originally used’s PDF export feature, which created a 67KB file, but today I tried CutePDF Writer linked into GhostScript, which produced an identical version that clocked in at a mere 37KB. While it’s not a hugely important file it’s nice to have a (potential) bandwidth saving.
It’s a pity that OpenOffice’s PDF export falls down in this respect, but it does line-up with a letter in last week’s Guardian Online (scroll down to the bottom) where the differences were even more marked. Let’s hope that 2.0 will produce more compact PDFs.


  1. You know you can get OOo to export 3 different sizes and qualities of PDF? Instead of using the ‘PDF’ button on the toolbar click file->export as pdf and it should pop up a dialog asking you what quality you want. A bit like clicking on the print button gets you the default but gonig file->print gets you the option of which printer to print to etc.

  2. Thanks. That took it down to 62KB, but that’s still much larger than what GhostScript was able to produce.

  3. Plain postscript is generally smaller than a pdf. However, some audiences will want an “Acrobat File”.

  4. There are infinite reasons why two competing software products will produce similar PDF files of differing size, many of which make no indication regarding the quality of the product.
    I’d be quite wary of the CutePDF application, I’ve seen all kinds of strange results (including typographical boxes–the kind you see when a font doesn’t have the character you typed–all over the page).
    I know this doesn’t bode well for open source, but by far the best results I’ve had with PDF files has been when I’ve created them with Adobe Acrobat. I find this strange, since PDF is an open format, and not proprietary in any way.

  5. Sorry for the double post. I just remembered that Adobe’s own InDesign 1.1 had issues with PDF files too; sometimes a single page document would come in at 1.5MB, where printing to Acrobat Distiller would produce a 65k file.