How to embed fonts with Photoshop (and do you really need to?)

If you’re like me, you use Photoshop for graphic design. It’s better for blending layers and images. However there is some limitation with text – one common and frustrating problem is trying to figure out how to embed fonts.

Photoshop doesn’t have any obvious option for this.

Printers will ask you to embed fonts for quality.


Take a look at this sample: If you zoom in 500%, the file with the embedded fonts has sharp and clear text – in the other, the text has been rasterized so you only have digital enlargement, which causes pixellation (click on the image to zoom in and see the difference).

However, I’m unconvinced that this difference really matters. When you print files, you’re not zooming in at all. 100% at 300DPI should be as sharp as the human eye can detect.



I’m going to do some tests this summer, printing out a copy of both and seeing if I can tell the difference.

But in case you have to work with a printer, or even if you’re sending PDF files to Lightning Source (which requires embedded fonts) or Createspace (which doesn’t), here’s how to do it in Photoshop.

Step One

The first step is just not flattening your file before saving as a PDF, which you might do to save space. Instead, flatten the images and graphics but leave all the text layers.

Step Two

Save as a PDF, but choose “Use Proof Setup: Working CMYK.”



Lightning Source and most printers require CMYK anyway (createspace doesn’t).

I prefer Createspace because it’s easier, and actually I don’t think the print quality is really enhanced by these extra options – and it makes dealing with Lightning Source a huge pain, especially for indie authors who don’t understand this stuff.

But if you’re a professional designer working with printers, you usually need to give them what they want. And it may look just a little bit better, clearer, sharper if you embed fonts in your PDF files this way – but as I said, I’m going to do some case studies to find out for sure.