Department of Engineering

IT Services



  • What is Encapsulated PostScript?
  • What is Level 2 PostScript?
  • What programs are installed to manipulate postscript files?
    • gs (Ghostscript) can be used to convert or preview postscript files. ghostview or gv are easier ways to run ghostscript for previewing.
    • ps2epsi - converts Postscript to 'encapsulated' Postscript. It's also useful if you want to ensure that an 'encapsulated' Postscript file's Bounding Box is minimal - some applications produce eps files whose Bounding Boxes leave a big border around the graphics.
    • ps2eps - also converts Postscript to 'encapsulated' Postscript, but does a more thorough job.
    • ps2pdf - converts Postscript to PDF. The resulting PDF file is often smaller and easier to print than the original postscript file.
    • psselect - select pages from a PostScript file
    • poster - scale and tile a postscript image to print on multiple page
    • epsffit - fit encapsulated PostScript file into constrained size with optional rotation.
  • Can postscript files be edited?
    xfig can import postscript files which can then be rotated, scaled and (partially) written over, but not edited. pstoedit can convert most postscript files to files in xfig's format so that they can be loaded into xfig and edited.

    Adobe's Illustrator can edit ps files produced by Illustrator.


  • My encapsulated postscript file displays on screen but just produces a header page when I try to print it out
    Proper encapsulated postscript files are likely to produce a blank page when sent to a printer. Either produce a non-encapsulated postscript file instead or try adding showpage to the end of your file.
  • My postscript file displays on screen but stops printing at a certain page
    • The file uses fonts that the printer doesn't have (though ghostscript may be able to cope). You may be able to edit the file with a text editor, replacing any unusual font names with, say, Times.
    • The file has non-printable characters in strings. Try removing them.
    • The file has %%EOF lines in places that aren't at the EOF (end of file). Try removing them.
  • When I sent my postscript file to the print I just get a sheet saying 'Can't select requested paper size for Frame print job!'
    Your document is probably wanting 'letter' size paper instead of A4. Find the line that says "1 1 0 0 612 792 0 1 23 FMDOCUMENT" or "1 1 0 0 612 792 0 1 30 FMDOCUMENT" and replace the "612 792" by "595 842" .
  • My Postscript files at CUED don't print out

    Try using ps2pdf then printing the resulting PDF file.

    Changes made to the printing system in summer 2002 mean that some postscript files which are non-standard may now not print out at all. Postscript files usually include lines beginning with %%. Some of these are comments but sometimes they contain more important info. For example, "%%Orientation: Landscape" indicates that the doc is in landscape. Clever printing systems rotate the output when they see such a line. Our old printing system didn't. The DPO printers (which understand postscript) also ignore the "%%Orientation" line.

    Rather than leaving the rotating to the printer, some postscript files do their own rotating. Problems arise when a postscript file does its own rotating in a faulty way and has the "%%Orientation: Landscape" line - with the old system there wasn't a problem but now the already rotated file is rotated again and often just a blank page comes out. This happens with landscaped xfig files, for example, but might happen with many other files. Also "%%Orientation ..." might be only one of several affected commands.

    Until a fix is made use "lp .... -oraw" with troublesome postscript documents. This stops the printing system doing clever things when it sees lines like "%%Orientation: Landscape".

See Also