CJK, Cyrillic, and special characters garbled or missing in InDesign

TechNote 145
The information on this page applies to:
  • MathType for Windows
  • MathType for Mac
  • Adobe InDesign CS6 and later
  • Adobe Acrobat DC

Equations with Asian or Cyrillic characters, and sometimes special symbols, look good in MathType, but when saved as EPS and placed into an InDesign document, they are missing or garbled.

The text and MathType equations in EPS graphics are created with fonts. Sometimes InDesign doesn't recognize the fonts that were used to create an EPS, and therefore cannot recreate it faithfully.

Though the PDF format uses fonts as well, InDesign generally doesn't have a problem rendering the fonts in equations that are saved as PDF. For that reason, we recommend using PDF equations in InDesign. If it's inconvenient to do that for every equation, at least use PDF for the equations with missing symbols or for other equations where some symbols are garbled when adding them to InDesign.

To illustrate, let's say you need to add this equation to InDesign:

Equation with Japanese characters.

You notice when you place it into InDesign, it looks like this (or otherwise with garbled characters):

Same equation as previous, but the Japanese characters have been replaced with other characters that don't fit the context.

Follow these steps to display the missing characters properly:

  1. Open the equation in MathType or create it if you're not working with an existing equation.
  2. If you're on Windows, "print" the equation to the Adobe PDF printer. Note the Adobe PDF printer isn't a free product; it's a component of Adobe Acrobat, a commercial product. You may able to achieve the same results by using 3rd party PDF-generating products, some of which are free. Be aware there are many such products available that we haven't tested with MathType. If you have experience with one or more of these and have found this process to work with them, please let us know.
  3. If you're on Mac, save the equation from MathType as PDF.

    Note: If you open the PDF equation in Acrobat to review it before placing it into InDesign, you'll notice the equation has been included in a full page-sized PDF, with the equation in the lower left corner. Don't worry about that. Place it into InDesign anyway. InDesign will ignore the "whitespace" and just use the equation.
  4. In InDesign, place the PDF equation just like you would any other graphic or EPS equation. After you do so, the equation in our example should look similar to this:

Same equation as above, but all characters are displayed correctly


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We hope this has been helpful. As always, please let us know if you have questions about this, or if you have additional techniques that work. We'd love to hear from you.