Type Size of PDF Output

I used MS Word and created a page with sample paragraphs of 9, 10, 11, and 12 point type and printed them on my laser printer. I compared them to the 11 point type from Scrivener’s PDF compile output. Scrivener’s output was at least one full point bigger.
I then created the same page sample paragraphs of 9, 10, 11, and 12 point type in Scrivener. I compiled “as is” and across the board Scrivener’s font appear bigger.

How can I know what they will actually look like in a printed book? Do other authors have type-size issues?
What am I doing wrong?

I tested output from a dozen different word processors and desktop publishing systems, and they all roughly matched each other… except for Word. :slight_smile: I do say roughly though, we can’t expect entirely different platforms to flawlessly match each other, and especially when one is like Scrivener, which doesn’t handle this level of detail (drawing pixels in a paper frame using font metrics and other typesetting tasks) on its own and just uses the stock macOS PDF generator (as you might expect, it does flawlessly match other Mac software that uses the same system, like TextEdit).

Well, as for that I would say in most cases you’d be taking whatever work you write in Scrivener into an environment more appropriate for producing printed books eventually, anyway. The PDF output here is mainly meant for proofing, and it most certainly isn’t meant for final publication typesetting, or to be used as any kind of hard reference for what that might look like.

PDF is what Createspace wants for input.

I would expect the printed book generated from a PDF to look pretty much exactly like the source PDF. That’s sort of the point of the PDF format. In fact, that’s probably why CreateSpace wants PDF input: so that they know the author has already approved the appearance of the document.

AmberV’s point was that Scrivener may not be the final stop if your goal is publisher-ready PDF output.


Using the same text and the same printer settings the type size is different between MS Word and Scrivener. Scrivener is much larger.
Attached is a photo of the two documents overlapping.

If your ultimate goal is PDF output, why is Word relevant?

FWIW, Scrivener uses the OS X text system, as do Apple’s TextEdit and many other programs. Word uses a different, Microsoft, text system, ported from Word for Windows. This is probably the source of the difference.


That may answer the question. However point-size is a physical measurement. There are 72 points to the inch. You measure the distance from the top of the highest asssender to the bottom of the lowest desender.

What I actually care about is not how Apple or Microsoft deal with it, but how a publisher like Createspace will.

Have you asked CreateSpace?

Since they have specifically asked for PDF, and PDF is a ready-to-publish format, I would imagine they will send your file directly to their pre-press tool. I can’t imagine that they actually care which font and type size you use, just that your text “box” fits within the physical limits of their press. But it’s a question that only they can definitively answer.


They actually use print the PDF file directly from what you submit. It is up to you what font and type-size is used. That is why I care. I guess that the only way to tell is to submit the book and buy a printed copy, the n adjust the size as required to look good. Since Scrivener supports Compile presets for paperbacks maybe you should know more about them and actually try submitting one or two to see what the process is and improve Scrivener’s support for that media.

I’m somewhat surprised that CreateSpace doesn’t supply a proof copy to authors as a matter of course.

You could easily print your own, though. Using a good laser printer to print from the PDF you plan to submit to whatever paper size you plan to use should allow you to judge the appearance.

In any case, it sounds like the bottom line is that any differences between the Apple-generated PDF and the Microsoft-generated PDF are irrelevant to CreateSpace. All they have to go on is the file you actually send them.

Note that a larger font will give you a larger page count, and therefore potentially higher cost. OTOH, many people will find a larger font more readable.