Is there a difference between the PDF version exported from ArcGIS Pro 1.4.1 layouts and that produced by ArcGIS Desktop 10.4.1?

I ask because I am seeing PDFs exported from ArcGIS Pro (600dpi) that look perfect in Adobe Acrobat Reader DC but when sent to either of two printers (no others tested) there are some grid lines (from Create Fishnet) that show up about 10 times as thick as they should. The same thing happens in the scale bar and there is bad "blockiness" in two picture elements (logos) on the layout too.

Although the two PDFs are created quite differently (ArcGIS Pro vs ArcMap, using ArcPy in each case to do the same map series) these symptoms are not seen in the ArcMap PDFs but are seen in all such maps from Pro.

The hardcopy is from an A0 HP plotter and an A3 printer so I think the problem is the PDF rather than either plotter/printer.

A mobile phone photo of the hardcopy, although quite blurry, illustrates the symptoms. Note the thick black line on the scale bar at bottom right (the rest is the expected thin lines), the two thick blue lines on the index map at lower left (the rest are the expected thin lines) and two thick grey lines on the grid in the main map (the rest are the expected thin lines).

enter image description here

Curiously, the same layout exported as a TIFF (600dpi) and imported into Adobe Acrobat Pro before being saved as a PDF prints fine from that PDF. However, this is a workaround that is only viable for a subset of requirements because it requires manual creation of the final PDF (in an otherwise automated system), results if TIFF file sizes that are 10x as big and take 10x as long to create, and require licensing of Adobe Acrobat Pro.

  • So the PDF looks fine, but when printed the output looks different from the PDF?
    – Midavalo
    May 11, 2017 at 23:35
  • @Midavalo Yes - it's not WYSIWYG between PDF and hardcopy
    – PolyGeo
    May 12, 2017 at 0:06
  • Are the other grey lines from the main map part of the same grid? Same line type & size? I wonder if it's a postscript or similar setting somewhere that isn't being translated well in the print job... which I guess leads to your question of whether it's the same PDF version
    – Midavalo
    May 12, 2017 at 1:24
  • @Midavalo Yes, the other 14 vertical grid lines that you can barely see are part of the same layer (based on a file geodatabase feature class from Create Fishnet) as the one thick vertical line. Across the map there is a thick line thrown out for each 9-11 thin ones - they are not quite equidistant.
    – PolyGeo
    May 12, 2017 at 1:32

1 Answer 1


I cannot explain why, but after a few more weeks working with this ArcGIS Pro project and ArcPy script, none of it targeted at trying to prevent the thick lines and blockiness, the symptoms of concern all disappeared.

I am hoping that they do not come back. If they do, for me or anyone else, my plan of attack would be to:

  1. Try exporting a PDF from the ArcGIS Pro layout WITHOUT running any ArcPy code to manipulate it. This should allow the source of the problem to be isolated to either the project itself or the ArcPy script.
  2. If it is the project then take a copy of it and on that copy start removing elements not needed to create those where the symptoms manifest to see if something can be shown to be the thing that is added to the project to cause them to appear.
  3. If it is the script then take a copy of it and on that copy start removing code not needed to create/manipulate the elements where the symptoms manifest to see if some code can be shown to be the thing that is added to the script to cause them to appear.

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