Common PDF Printing Problems and How to Fix Them

PDF documents are widely used in everyday office life, due to their excellent ability to hold huge amounts of information in a relatively small file size, retain formatting across devices and operating systems. They can also be password protected easily, providing security when sharing documents between various recipients. This makes them perfect for emailing around the office, or to associates outside of the business. Similarly, these documents can be easily printed off for offline access, which is ideal when preparing files or presentations for meetings.

However, PDF files share some similarities with other types of document, and in some situations you can run into certain issues when attempting to print them off.

Your first steps if you can’t print a PDF should be to check that the wired or wireless connection between the printer and your device is OK. If it is, restart both your device and printer to check if that resolves the issue.

If after trying both of these suggestions, you’re still having serious problems printing your PDF document, don’t panic. Read on to learn about some of the most common PDF printing issues that you might come across and how you can resolve them.

File won’t print at all

If the issue at hand is that the PDF won’t print at all, it could be down to a number of reasons.

Firstly, try to print a non-PDF document. This will help to narrow the issue down, as if you can’t print documents in any other file formats, the problem is most likely a more general printer issue.

If you can succeed in getting an image or a word document to print, this will confirm that the issue is simply with PDF printing.

In this case, the next step to take is to try updating your printer drivers. Old drivers can be out of date and new updates may contain essential software tweaks which improve compatibility with PDFs or fix any known bugs that can cause problems with printing them.


To find the most recent drivers for your printer model, visit your manufacturer’s website and look for the driver download section of the site or simply use a search engine and search for your printer model with ‘drivers’ on the end.

As well as updating your drivers, making sure that you always have the most recent version of your PDF reader installed will keep you up to date with all bug fixes and security updates as they’re delivered.

Missing font

If you find blocks of font missing or looking vastly different on your print out than they do on screen, this can be easily resolved.

This specific issue is usually due to the fact that a font is not installed onto your computer, or has somehow become corrupted. Reloading any fonts used in the document or finding and installing these fonts manually can fix this issue.

Alternatively, if you do not have the access rights or enough time to do this, then a temporary fix you can use is to simply flatten the PDF or extract it as an image before printing it out.

PDF flattening is a feature of Acrobat Pro and Pro Extended that lets you merge and flatten the different layers in a complex PDF file containing different image types and fonts.

Extracting the PDF as an image is a simpler fix, but it’s only useful for printing, not sending documents, as the functionality of the file is lost in the process.

Adobe have published a guide to converting or exporting PDFs which can help you fix issue with missing fonts in your PDF.

File could be too large

As PDFs can contain much more information in one file than other document types, this can sometimes cause a printer to fail. Although the file size might not be as capacious as you’d think it would need to be to crash your printer, it can still happen with particularly large or complex PDFs.

This is most common with older devices, and if you are trying to print on an older HP printer then problems can occur. Even if your printer was top of the range when you bought it, hardware can become outdated over time and might struggle to keep up with the demands you have.

You can figure out whether the issue relates to your printer or the file by trying to print it on another device. If it works, you’ll know that there’s an issue with the file. If it doesn’t – it’s your printer.

If the issue is with the file, one way of trying to fix it is to use the reduced file size functionality in your PDF reader. This feature usually works by compressing the file without compromising on the quality of your PDF, so you don’t have to worry about blurry text!

If the printing issue is down to an device, it could be because of insufficient RAM. Check in your manual or online to see if your printer has the option to add additional RAM, which will help it to cope with larger print requests. If not, it may be worth considering investing in a new laser printer.

Image problems

Printing a PDF that contains a lot of colour using a mono printer such as this Lexmark, which only prints in black and white, can cause text and images in the file to become obscured, blurred, and unreadable.

This is usually due to the mono printer being unable to recreate the right tones in grey scale, falling

short of the range of shades that are achievable with full colour. Even if the document looks fine in the print preview, it can still end up being difficult to read when printed.

Printing the document using coloured ink or changing the contrast to make a particularly light PDF darker or vice versa can fix this issue.

Hopefully, this guide has given you some insight as to how you can fix all of your PDF printing problems and get back to doing the work you really want to do. In most cases, one of the above solutions will help you to get back on track but if you’re still struggling to get the printed PDF you want, it might be time to contact your printer manufacturer!

Adam Hansen

Adam is a part time journalist, entrepreneur, investor and father.