[Note: From 2000 onwards, this page is no longer actively updated]

How to generate portable Postscript

The problem

Many people post Postscript documents on their home pages. Unfortunately, it is often difficult for other people to print these documents after downloading. The printer is usually of a different model than the authors, and the document is often incompatible with it. Typical problems include:

The Solution

Generate a lowest common denominator Postscript!

Portable Postscript from LaTex/dvips

The latest versions of dvips have disabled document structuring comments by default. the default settings of the DSC comment flag. dvips latest version: changed default of DSC flag; you must generate DSC comments for PsUtils to work.

Portable Postscript using Microsoft Windows Drivers

How to set up the printer driver

We want to set up the driver to print to disk, and maximize the portability of the document.

Windows NT 4.0

    Note: You need the NT disk if the printer driver is not already installed.
  1. Click on "Add Printer" under Printers
  2. Select printer managed by MyComputer (local printer, not network printer)
  3. Select FILE (port) (check mark the entry)
  4. Select a driver for a 300 dpi, PS level 1 printer:
    e.g. LaserWriter Personal NT
  5. After completing the driver installation, disable Job Control Codes and Enable Page independence
    Specifically, Right click on the printer, select Document defaults
    Postscript Options -> Generate Job Control Code: No
    Page Indpendence: Yes
    Ctrl-D after Job: NO
  6. (Optional) Enable duplex printing
    After installing a printer that supports duplex printing, Right click on printer, select Document defaults
    Paper/Output -> Print on Both Sides (Duplex Printing)-> Long side
Another way to enable duplex printing is to manually remove the explicitly references to duplex in the generated Postscript files. Delete Postscript such as:
%%BeginFeature: *Duplex None

    <</Duplex false>> setpagedevice

Windows 95

  1. Select a driver for a 300 dpi, PS level 1 printer:
    e.g. Apple LaserWriter
  2. Disable Ctrl-D after jobs.
    Postscript->Advanced->Ctrl-D do not send after job (ow. "Offending command")
  3. Add Adobe Document structuring comments.
    Postscript->Optimize for portability

Portable Postscript from TeX and LaTeX

TeX and LaTeX by default embed bitmapped fonts into the Postscript documents. These fonts are resolution dependent and produce poor results when printed at other resolutions (e.g. when previewed on the screen, or when printed on 300 dpi printers instead of 600dpi). See Adobe tips for generating PDF from TeX. These tips describe how to generate Postscript Postscript as well.

Copyright issues

Some fonts embedded in your Postscript documents may not be publicly distributed!

Postscript links

Richards PS page.
Excellent collection of Postscript links.
Fixing PostScript files
Postscript error messages.
mirror of old Luminous Corporation page
Postscript troubleshooting and Postscript errors.
Postscript resources
Links to FAQs, Postscript tutorials, newsgroups.
NSF guide
Generate good PDF from Postscript and LaTeX
Examples of good/bad PDF depending on what fonts are embedded.
Postscript Wiki
Useful Postscript code snippets.
Postscript FAQ v. 2.3
Frequently asked questions.
Postscript Corner, University of Zurich
Discusses the Postscript language, fonts and others.
The technical solutions database is occasionally useful. AdobePS Postscript driver is available. This driver is supposedly better than the driver included with Windows 95, but is not compatible with Windows NT.
Online postscript generation from LaTeX documents.
This may be an excellent solution for LaTeX document portability.


Adobe Document Structuring Comments (DSC) (in pdf format)
(unfortunately I could no longer find this document on Adobe's site.)

Other Solutions

Avoid publishing Postscript altogether! For example you may want to publish using Hypertext (HTML), Adobe Acrobat (PDF), DVI files (from TeX), or even Microsoft Word format (DOC, RTF).

However, note that PDF is closely linked to Postscript, so many of the above issues still apply to it.

Fixing specific Postscript problems

Printers prints ASCII file with Postscript source

Make sure that the Postscript file starts with the two characters: %!

Enable duplex printing

Scan the Postscript for code that disable duplex mode, such as:
%%BeginFeature: *Duplex None

    <</Duplex false>> setpagedevice
Replace this Postscript by:
%%BeginFeature: *Duplex DuplexNoTumble

    <</Duplex true /Tumble false>> setpagedevice
Also, enable duplex mode in your printer.

Tell the printer to ignore paper-size differences between A4 and Letter

Newer printers can ignore paper-size specifications requesting A4 when Letter is loaded in the paper tray and vice-versa. You may need to configure your printer to do this. For example, the HP Laserjet Series 8100 has a menu option: Paper handling menu -> Override A4/Letter. Set it to Yes.

FrameMaker 4 explicit paper size

Symptom: FrameMaker 4 specifies what paper size is used, e.g. Legal, and the printer has only A4. The printer then outputs a page saying: Can't select requested paper size for Frame print job!
Solution: Edit the Postscript file as follows.

Search for: /PageSize
At the end of the line it says: stopped
Append to that the words:  pop false
More FrameMaker 4 Postscript problems

FrameMaker 5 paper size

FrameMaker 5 Postscript defines a variable FMAllowPaperSizeMismatch to allow or disallow printing on a different paper size. Locate this variable definition and set it to true as below.
/FMAllowPaperSizeMismatch            true def

FrameMaker repair filters

Other Portable Postscript pages

Other Typesetting pages

Typesetting practices - make your documents look better.
Martin Szummer, szummer@media.mit.edu.NOSPAM(remove .NOSPAM suffix before sending)
Last modified: April 21, 2006