Stata graphs and pdf go together like mustard and ice cream

April 26, 2009 at 10:45 pm 3 comments

| Gabriel |

[Update, see this follow-up post where I offer a solution]
[Update 2, this issue is fixed as of Stata 11.2 (3/30/11), “graph export foo.pdf” now works great on Macs]

I was embedding Stata graphs in Lyx and I noticed that the graphs came out kind of fug, with a lot of gratuitous jaggedness. I experimented with it a little and I realized that the problem was that I was having Stata save the graphs as pdf and for some reason it doesn’t do it very well. The top half of this image is part of my graph when I saved it as eps and the bottom half is saved as pdf. (both versions are zoomed in to 400% but you can see it even at 100%).

eps vs pdf

I really don’t understand why the pdf looks so fug. It’s not fuzzy or jaggy so it’s clearly a vector-graphic not a bitmap, it’s just a vector graphic with very few nodes and gratuitous line thickness. As far as I can tell this is a problem with Stata, not OS X, because if I have Stata create an eps and then use Preview (or for that matter, Lyx/LaTeX) to convert it to pdf, the results look beautiful. Likewise I’ve always been impressed with the deep integration of pdf into OS X. In any case, in the future I’m doing all my Stata graphs as eps even though in some ways pdf is more convenient (such as native integration with “quick look”).

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3 Comments

  • 1. Stata graphs in pdf fixed « Code and Culture  |  April 27, 2009 at 11:37 am

    […] 27, 2009 Yesterday I complained that Stata makes ugly pdf graphs. Today I decided to fix it. Not only does this code make graphs that aren’t ugly, but it […]

  • […] a year ago, I got frustrated with Stata’s “graph export foo.pdf” command, which at the time gave hideous output. Apparently the problem was that Stata used the same code to write to disk as to write to screen. […]

  • 3. So Long Arial « Code and Culture  |  October 10, 2011 at 11:15 am

    […] rendering, why Stata for Mac got PDF support earlier than the other platforms, and why the PDFs looked like this until they fixed it in 11.2 and 12). Note that this means that your PDF will use the EPS fonts if […]


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