When I export a map to PDF the points are blocky and not sharp, as you can see in the picture.

Ugly points

When I exported the map the first time it was sharp and stayed sharp when zooming in.

enter image description here

First I used the simpel marker symbol and now the character marker symbol from Esri. But when I use the simple marker symbol again it also becomes very blocky.

I already tried different export settings, but it only became worse.

I changed the transparency of a layer and this was the PDF result:

sharp, but not round

They are indeed sharp now, but the circles are still not circles.

Where can I find the problem?

I used the simple marker and now they are smooth and sharp, but some of them are oval..

enter image description here

What can I do about it?


You can run the following code in the Python window to figure out which layer(s) is rasterizing your export:

import arcpy

def DetectRasterization():
  mxd = arcpy.mapping.MapDocument("CURRENT")
  df_list = arcpy.mapping.ListDataFrames(mxd)
  foundRasterization = False
  noneFoundMsg = "No rasterizing layers were detected."
  for df in df_list:
    lyr_list = arcpy.mapping.ListLayers(mxd, data_frame=df)
    for lyr in lyr_list:
      if lyr.isRasterizingLayer or lyr.supports("BRIGHTNESS"):
        foundRasterization = True
        if lyr.isGroupLayer and lyr.transparency > 0:
          print "In data frame '" + df.name + "', the group layer '" + \
                   lyr.longName + "' is a rasterizing layer:\r",
          print "\tVisibility is " + str(lyr.visible) + ".\n" + \
                "\tTransparency is " + str(lyr.transparency) + " percent.\n"
        elif not lyr.isGroupLayer:
          print "In data frame '" + df.name + "', the layer '" + \
                   lyr.longName + "' is a rasterizing layer:\r",
          if lyr.transparency > 0:
            print "\tVisibility is " + str(lyr.visible) + ".\n" + \
                  "\tTransparency is " + str(lyr.transparency) + " percent.\n"
            print "\tVisibility is " + str(lyr.visible) + ".\n" + \
                  "\tTransparency is 0 percent, but the layer may be a\n" + \
                  "\traster layer or contain rasterizing symbology such\n" + \
                  "\tas bitmap picture symbols.\n"
      del lyr
    del lyr_list
    del df
  if not foundRasterization:
    print noneFoundMsg
  del df_list
  del mxd


For the "not round" problem, my understanding is that arcmap use the DPI setting to determine the accuracy of vector object (I guess that the higher the DPI the more vertices are used to draw the vector shape)

So for all vector map I use a very high DPI (usually more than 2000) to get perfect curve (the resulting file is a little bit bigger than with the usual 300 DPI but not that much and the visual aspect is a lot better. see below exemple of export at 150 DPI (8ko PDF) and 5000 DPI (12ko PDF))

enter image description here

enter image description here

When my export is partially rasterized (raster base map or use of transparency on lower layer) I find that the best results I can get are by exporting at the highest reasonable DPI (regarding the time it take to export and the resulting file size) to get good vector rendering for the top layer then use adobe acrobat pro to reduce the file size by lowering the DPI of the raster part while keeping the vector untouched.

Another way of doing it would be to export separately the top vector part and the lower raster part and use graphical software to marge back the full map

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