Converting Latex to PDF

These instructions assume you are working on the Georgia Tech CoC machines. If you are not, see the references below.

This document describes how to render a LaTeX file to a PDF file that looks good on the Web as well as in print. If you use the standard tools, you end up with grotty, bitmapped fonts in your PDF files. If you use the method below, you'll get beautiful, outline fonts. Here is an example:

300 DPI bitmapped fonts Type 1 Postscript fonts

Old: Bitmapped fonts

New: Type 1 Postscript fonts


  1. Make sure the good version of latex (/usr/local/texmf/bin) is in your PATH before /usr/local/bin.

  2. Use latex to create a dvi file as usual.

  3. Convert the dvi file to postscript but embed the Type 1 Postscript version of the TeX fonts (Computer Modern). To do this use the "-Ppdf" option to dvips like this:

    (Yes, that's the dvips syntax for printing, but actually it will create a file called

  4. Convert the postscript file to pdf using Adobe's distiller:

    Note that distiller is a commercial program and can only be run on cleon, terminus, lennon, gaia, elvis, asperta or forge.

    Do not use ghostscript's ps2pdf program which creates awful looking pdf files that render extremely slowly on the screen. (Note: This is supposed to be fixed in the future).


If you are not on a GT CoC machine, there are many web-pages which tell you how to set up dvips on your machine to include Type 1 Postscript fonts. Among them are:

Note: the ACM page refers to the BaKoMa fonts, which are not completely free. Use the Blue Sky fonts, which are in the public domain (and look better, anyway).

If you have a newer installation of LaTeX, it may already have the Type1 fonts included. In that case you may be able to just execute dvips like so:

If your version of dvips is too old to recognize -Ppdf, try using -Pcmz -Pamz, instead.

If you do not have Adobe distiller, you can try GhostScript's ps2pdf or the shareware pstill. Another possibility is to try converting directly from dvi to pdf using dvipdfm.

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