How to Identify Embedded Fonts in a PDF

As a designer, I’m always curious about the font choices other designers make in their work. When I find a great design that uses an unfamiliar font, I like to do a bit of investigating to figure out what it is. This is easy enough with a web page, but getting a identifying fonts in a PDF presents more of a challenge.

I found this helpful tip for Macs a few years ago and have been using it ever since. Simply open your Terminal and use the following command:

strings path/to/your/file.pdf | grep FontName

Here’s the output I get from running the command on a sample PDF:

<< /Type /FontDescriptor /FontName /KQPRUE+TrebuchetMS /Flags 32 /FontBBox
<< /Type /FontDescriptor /FontName /XPGGVI+ArialMT /Flags 32 /FontBBox [-665 -325 2000 1006]
<< /Type /FontDescriptor /FontName /UUFCOV+Calibri /Flags 4 /FontBBox [-503 -307 1240 964]
<< /Type /FontDescriptor /FontName /PAZRAS+Verdana /Flags 32 /FontBBox [-560 -303 1446 1051]

Ah-ha! Four fonts identified. It’s worth noting that this method doesn’t work on every PDF, but it is relatively reliable and the simplest method I’ve come across.

(Credit to Stack Overflow user michelem for the tip.)