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Software Requirements
Warnings and Rules
Print Version (Opens new browser window)
Acceptable Formats
Creating PDF Files
Creating PostScript Files
Creation Tips and Pointers
PDF Resource Links
Using TeX And LaTeX

For Proposal Preparation and Project Reporting


Warnings and Rules

Failure to heed these warnings or follow FastLane rules for PDF files may result in a delay for proposal or report submissions.



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DO NOT Use Adobe Acrobat PDFWriter

PDFWriter does not produce acceptable PDF files, except under very limited circumstances. This can lead to NSF program officers and reviewers seeing garbled and/or incomplete versions of your file.

Fastlane recommends uploading one of the supported formats as identified in the Acceptable File Formats section of this document.

If you wish to create and upload a PDF file, use Adobe Distiller (in the same package as PDFWriter) or Ghostscript.

For more information, see the tip: Using Distiller 4.0 or Higher.

More information on PDF Writer (Opens new browser window)
Ghostscript Home Page (Opens new browser window).

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DO NOT Use Blocked PDF Producers

While the errors vary for each producer, the root issue is that PDF files created by these producers, while appearing fine as standalone documents, have one of the following problems:

  1. They cannot be easily concatenated with PDF files created by other producers.
  2. They have problems with the manner in which they embed fonts into PDF documents.

These PDF-producing applications are blocked:

  • Canvas/Deneba PDF filter
  • Dvipdf(m)
  • FrameMaker
  • GhostScript versions prior to 6.5
  • Hewlett-Packard Intelligent Scanners
  • PDFWriter
  • PhotoShop
  • PStill
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Adobe Acrobat Encryption and Security Settings

Modern versions of Adobe Acrobat allow users to create security settings on PDF files. These settings affect the ability of NSF program officers and reviewers to properly access and view your files.

For FastLane purposes the two Acrobat security settings that must be set to "allow" are the "editing" and "printing" permissions. Acrobat security settings can be manipulated via the File -> Document Security option within Adobe Acrobat.

The Edit permission must be set to "allow" so we can concatenate your documents into one file.

NOTE: FastLane is a secure and encrypted environment. NSF assumes responsibility for keeping your submitted documents secure and confidential.

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Always Check Your Results

Checking your results, with either local fonts "off" or on another computer, will ensure that the PDF has been correctly formatted and prevent a delay in submission of proposals and reports.

For more information, see the tip: Check the Results.

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Always Embed All Fonts

Always embed fonts into the PDF file. Otherwise, PDF viewers and printers may replace your fonts with substitutes and produce unwanted results for reviewers.

For more information, see the tip: Embedding Fonts.

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Always Use Type 1 or TrueType Fonts

These fonts are commonly available in most applications.

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Special Rules for TeX or LaTeX

The following rules apply if using TeX or LaTeX:

  • Subset your fonts at 100%...or...
  • Upload your .dvi file and figures (which is easier).

Special Instructions for TeX/LaTeX Users

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If any of the links in this document are outdated, please notify the FastLane Help Desk.
Suggestions for additions or revisions to this document may be sent to flpdf@nsf.gov.

Download Adobe Acrobat Reader for viewing PDF files

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