Acrobat 8.1 Update: Fix for Renderable Text Issue

NOTE: Acrobat DC now can OCR documents with renderable text or vector elements anywhere on the page.  I am keeping this older article here for reference.

Normally, a dot release to one of Adobe’s major product offerings isn’t that exciting.

Besides offering support for Microsoft Windows Vista and Microsoft Office 2007, the latest dot release to Acrobat 8 (v8.1) offers an OCR enhancement that will be very welcome indeed!

Acrobat 8.1 offers a fix to a most vexing OCR problem— the dreaded renderable text error:

Renderable Text Error Warning Dialog

Renderable Text is vector (computer generated) text that is placed on top of an image layer.

You may encounter this error if when you try to OCR an image-only PDF containing a Bates stamp. In some federal court districts, stamped image-only PDFs are commonly distributed.

The Acrobat 8.1 Update offers a fix that works for just about every file that has Bates stamps.

For a complete list of fixes in the 8.1 Update, check out this Adobe Knowledge Base Article. (Opens in a new window)

Read on to learn how to get the Acrobat 8.1 Update and some limitations of the fix.

Obtaining the Acrobat 8.1 Update

The easiest way to obtain the Acrobat 8.1 Update is to use the built-in updater.

Choose Help—>Check for Updates

Check for Updates Menu in Acrobat

A downloadable updater is available on the Acrobat Support Site. (Opens in a new window)

Large organizations can patch their install and deploy it out using the free Adobe Customization Wizard for Acrobat 8.
(Opens in a new window)

Fix for Renderable Text Error and Some Limitations

Acrobat 8.1 will ignore renderable text objects within a margin defined as 20% of the width or height of the page.

For example, for a standard 8.5″ by 11″ page:

  • Left Margin = 2.2″ (8.5″ X .20)
  • Top Margin = 1.7″ (11″ X .20)


Here’s a PDF version of the above illustration which you can use to check your own files.

Acrobat should be able to OCR just about any file that has been Bates stamped. Most Bates stamps are within 1 inch from the top or bottom of the page.

7 Responses to Acrobat 8.1 Update: Fix for Renderable Text Issue

  1. Victoria Bae says:

    i have vs 10.0 and am still having trouble with renderable text issue. what can i do to fix this?

    • Rick Borstein says:

      This means your document has renderable text outside the 20% margin area. Most likely, it means you have an electronic PDF that does not need OCR.

      • Te Raina says:

        This error still happens even though it appears the document is OCR’d. If you try and copy and paste the words, they come back in an unreadable square box form. It is like each text character is made up of separate lines and objects as opposed to text-formed individual characters.

        • Rick Borstein says:

          Sounds like an encoding issue. Not all apps that create PDF encode the text correctly. Try printing the doc (refrying, we call it) to the Adobe PDF Printer then tyr to extract the text.

  2. Tina Truett says:

    I also have X and still have problems with OCR. The issue I have is with legal documents from federal court discovery documents that have been redacted. This would make as you noted above probably outside the 20% martin area of renderable text on some pages. That being said, the only answer I can find is to save the file as a .tiff then convert it back to a pdf. Is this my only option because this is so time consuming.

    • Rick Borstein says:

      Yes, if there are vector elements inside the 20% margin, that error will be triggered. One workaround is to print to the Adobe PDF Print Driver using the Print as Image option (Advanced button in the Print Window). That setting is sticky, so make sure you change it back for other documents you don’t want to print as bitmaps.

  3. Kevin N Weinhold says:

    Printing as image sounded promising but it did not make any difference for me. I’m still looking for an alternative way to resolve the “Page contains renderable text” error. Currently I print to JPG, recombine, and OCR the results. This works but makes the file 2-10x larger.