AutoCAD: Creating PDFs with Searchable Text


How to get searchable text when creating PDFs from AutoCAD®

Relevant Products

Bluebeam® Revu®


PDFs created from AutoCAD don’t contain searchable text.


If You’re Creating PDFs Using the Bluebeam Plugin:

When using the Bluebeam plugin to create PDFs in AutoCAD there are different ways to create searchable text, depending on the type of font you’re using.

When using TrueType fonts, the Bluebeam plugin will convert this text to searchable, editable text, and not to vector graphics – which uses line segments to represent the characters and isn’t searchable. Converting TrueType text as text also helps keep file size down and improves performance.

For TrueType text to be converted to searchable text, the Width Factor must be 1.0 and cannot be obliqued or else the text will convert to vector graphics and not text. Use regular italics instead of oblique to maintain searchable fonts.

When using SHX fonts, the Bluebeam plugin will convert these to vector graphics, but when using AutoCAD 2008 and above with Revu 9 and above, there is an option in the Bluebeam plugin to add OCR data to the PDF to make the SHX text searchable.

To activate this option:

  1. Open AutoCAD.
  2. On the AutoCAD ribbon, click the Output tab.
  3. Click the Change Settings button in the Bluebeam plugin.
  4. On the General Settings tab, enable the SHX Fonts check box.
Text in embedded objects, such as Microsoft Excel tables, can’t be converted to searchable text. Revu eXtreme processes these documents with OCR to make searchable text.

If You’re Plotting to the Bluebeam PDF printer from AutoCAD:

When plotting to the Bluebeam PDF printer, all text is normally converted to vector graphics and isn’t searchable. It’s possible to create a PC3 file for the Bluebeam PDF printer so TrueType text will be converted to searchable and editable text in the PDF.

The Width Factor must be 1.0 and the Oblique Angle 0.0 or else the text will convert to vector graphics and won’t be searchable. Use regular italics instead of an oblique angle to maintain searchable fonts. SHX text will not be searchable when the PDF is created using the printer.

To create the PC3 file that creates searchable text from TrueType fonts:

  1. On the File menu in AutoCAD, click Plot.
  2. Select the Bluebeam PDF printer from the list.
  3. Click the Properties button.
  4. Expand Graphics in the tree by clicking on the +.
  5. Select TrueType Text in the list.
  6. Click the TrueType as Text radio button below.
  7. Click OK.
  8. Click Save changes to the following file:
  9. Type Bluebeam PDF TrueType.pc3 for the file name and click OK.
  10. Select Bluebeam PDF TrueType.pc3 from the list.
  11. Click OK.

Now select Bluebeam PDF TrueType.pc3 as the printer each time you want to convert TrueType fonts to searchable text.

More Information

Raster, Vector and Text – What’s Really in my PDF? – Learn about the three types of PDF content and the differences between them.

Related Articles