I have a pdf opening from Sharepoint 2013 being displayed in the office web app. It displays text as squares instead of actual letters. The font used in the file is Arial, strangely some of the text renders correctly, even though it is also the same Arial font as the 'square' text.

On the left is the in the Web App, on the right I've downloaded the file and am viewing it from my local computer.

picture showing error when displayed in the web app, alongside another picture of the file opening correctly when opened from the local computer

I am using Windows 10.

Some info on the pdf file itself, it was created from a Word document, being converted to pdf using Abode InDesign. I don't know much about Adobe and have never used InDesign.

URL Testing

This works (i.e. just clicking on the file name to open it): https://CONTOSO/deptsite/Shared%20Documents/Mutual%20Exchange%20Policy.pdf

This does not work: https://CONTOSO/deptsite/_layouts/15/WopiFrame.aspx?sourcedoc=/deptsite/Shared%20Documents/Mutual%20Exchange%20Policy.pdf&action=default

This also does not work: https://CONTOSO/deptsite/_layouts/15/WopiFrame.aspx?sourcedoc=%2Fdeptsite%2FShared%20Documents%2FMutual%20Exchange%20Policy%2Epdf&action=view&source=https%CONTOSO%2Fdeptsite%2FShared%2520Documents%2FForms%2FAsset%2520Management%2Easpx

Possible Explanations

  • Wrong settings used in Adobe InDesign when saving the Word file as a .pdf?
  • Something wrong in Sharepoint web app (yet all other pdfs display correctly).... o The font is not unusual, it is just Arial, so is standard.


This MS link suggests a problem with Middle East and Asian fonts, not applicable to me as my file is in English and is using Arial. Though I am using Windows 10.

1 Answer 1


I don't have a definitive answer, but I suspect the issue was caused by the software used to create the pdf.

If someone else has trouble with this, then try recreating the pdf with different software.

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