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Preserving text information in LibreOffice/OpenOffice Impress when producing PDF


PDF file is usually my favourite format when distributing the documents to other end users. In Windows, we can install PDFCreator, subsequently there is a virtual printer which can be used to “print” the documents as a PDF format.

In Linux, there is no PDFCreator. Yet the most common alternative is CUPS-PDF. CUPS-PDF is depending on CUPS (Common Unix Printing System). If we want to do any printing in Linux, this is the package that we need.

However, in the recent CUPS-PDF (my current version is 2.6.1), if we print the file as PDF, all the text information are lost. The text is no more a vector data but the raster data. That is, if we zoom into it, they are pixelated. Moreover, we cannot highlight and copy the text. This makes the CUPS-PDF become less useful, and it is my last solution to produce the PDF file.

When using LibreOffice Writer and Calc, instead of using CUPS-PDF, I can “export directly as PDF”, which is a built-in export function. By this, the text information are all preserved.

However, when using the web browser like Firefox or Chromium, there is no “export directly as PDF” function. Fortunately, when we want to print, among the printers there is a “Print to File” printer. This is the solution in web browser. By “Print to File”, all the text information are preserved in PDF so that we can select and copy the text if needed.

LibreOffice Impress is a little different. We can also “export directly as PDF”, yet the output is the PDF with each slide as a page. This is not what we intend if we want to print some handouts. Because each page is a slide, and the background is colourful.

LibreOffice Impress actually has “Print to File” like Firefox or Chromium. However, we cannot see the “Print to File” printer like Firefox or Chromium. To get this, we go to File > Print. There are several tabs. In the Options tab, we can see the option “Print to File”. Check it, now the “OK” button becomes “Print to File…” button. As a result, we can customise our handouts, such as change the handouts to “Black & White”, 6 pages per sheet, and so on. After customising the settings, press the “Print to File…” button, we will produce a PDF file as handouts instead of slides and all the text information preserved.

Update 2015-09-22: This does not work on 5.0.1.

About Allen Choong

A cognitive science student, a programmer, a philosopher, a Catholic.

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