Common issues with XPS files and how to solve them

Introduction

XPS is a short form for XML Paper Specification. This file format was developed by Microsoft and is used to represent electronic documents in a standardized way. XPS files are designed to save a document’s layout, fonts, graphics, and other elements no matter what software or platform is used to view them.

XPS files are similar in concept to PDF and can contain text, images, vector graphics, and other elements, all wrapped in XML (eXtensible Markup Language) code.

To make XPS files you may use one of such tools:

This article is going to help you to identify and resolve common issues related to XPS document creation, viewing, and printing.

Pros and cons of XPS files

Before going further into the article’s topic, let’s take a look at the benefits and drawbacks that the XPS format has.

ProsCons
XPS files are designed to preserve the exact layout, fonts, and formatting of the original document so the document looks the same across different devices and software applications.XPS files can be larger in size in comparison to equivalent PDF files which leads to longer download times and increased storage size.
XPS files support vector graphics so images and diagrams maintain their quality regardless of the zoom level.XPS files can be converted to other formats for editing, the editing process is not as easy as with native document formats like Word or PowerPoint.
The files of this format can be digitally signed and encrypted, making them more secure. This is especially important for sensitive or confidential documents.Windows includes a default XPS viewer, but third-party software support for XPS files might be limited which makes it challenging to find fitting software for viewing and editing.
Based on XML, XPS files are possible to extract and manipulate programmatically, which can be useful for certain automation tasks.XPS files are not as widely adopted as PDF files. This can lead to compatibility issues when sharing XPS files with users on different platforms.
The format is developed by Microsoft, so it is well integrated with Windows operating systems so it is easier to create, view, and print XPS files on Windows.These files might not also display and function correctly on non-Windows platforms or devices.

In summary, XPS files feature precise document preservation and security features but have limited adoption and cross-platform compatibility. So when you make a choice between using XPS or other formats like PDF take into account your specific needs and limitations.

Issues that you may face working with XPS files

ProblemDescription
File savingSoftware issues, file size, or permission restrictions may cause problems with saving your file.
Corrupted XPS FilesDue to accidental deletion, software conflicts, or malware, xps files can be corrupted. Then they may not render and be saved correctly.
Font embeddingIf the XPS file includes custom fonts not embedded properly, users who don’t have those fonts installed on their systems may see text displayed incorrectly. Ensuring proper font embedding is crucial for consistent viewing.
Image qualityXPS supports vector graphics but raster images (such as JPEGs) might not save their original quality if they are compressed excessively during XPS creation. This can lead to pixelation or loss of detail.
Large file sizesComplex documents with a lot of images, graphics, or embedded fonts can result in larger XPS file sizes. This may increase loading time and storage requirements.
Formatting inconsistencyEven though XPS files are designed to preserve formatting some issues can appear if the source document includes complex layouts, fonts, or graphics that the XPS format can’t replicate accurately. This makes elements appear differently in the XPS file than in the original document.
Errors caused by conversion to XPS fileTransforming documents to XPS can sometimes lead to errors or inconsistencies like misaligned text, distorted images, or misplaced graphics.
Hyperlink preservationIf the source document contains hyperlinks make sure they are accurately translated into the XPS file because sometimes they don’t function properly.
Lack of interactivity in the resulting XPS fileIf the source document contains interactive elements like forms or multimedia, these might not be fully supported or functional in the XPS format which limits the document’s interactivity and user engagement.
Compatibility with third-party softwareIf you use such software to create XPS files, compatibility issues might appear because of variations in how different applications interpret the XPS format. This may cause unexpected rendering discrepancies.
Metadata and accessibilityMetadata (such as document properties) and accessibility features (such as alt text for images) might not be translated accurately into the XPS format. This can affect document searchability and usability for individuals with disabilities.
Software limitationsThe software used to create XPS files might have limitations or bugs that impact the quality of the resulting files. So it is the software up to date and checking for known issues is important.

Identifying and resolving issues with XPS file

As we already found out the main problems with XPS files, let’s learn how to identify and resolve them.

XPS file saving issues

Why can’t I save the XPS file?

  1. Attempting to save XPS files in software that doesn’t support the XPS format can lead to errors or inability to save. Here you will need to use software explicitly designed to create or save XPS files, such as Microsoft XPS Document Writer or opt for XPS conversion tools.
  2. If you don’t have the necessary permissions to save files in a specific location or folder, the saving process might fail. Just try saving the file to a different location.
  3. Some applications or systems may have limitations on the maximum file size they can handle. It may cause errors when saving large XPS files. Try to remove unnecessary content, or split the document into smaller parts if needed. More options for this case are explained further.
  4. Using invalid characters (such as slashes, colons, or special symbols) in the file name can prevent successful saving.
  5. Running out of available disk space can prevent the system from saving files, including XPS files.
  6. If the XPS file itself is corrupted, it might prevent successful saving or cause errors during the saving process. Try to restore from a backup, or recreate the document and try saving it again.
  7. Including fonts or graphics in the XPS file that are not supported or are incompatible can lead to saving errors.
  8. Insufficient available memory (RAM) can cause saving problems, especially with large and complex XPS files. Try to close other applications to free up memory before attempting to save the XPS file. If the issue remains, consider upgrading your system’s memory.
  9. Software bugs or glitches can lead to unexpected errors when saving XPS files. Software updates to the latest version may help here.

If you still cannot save the file, try to seek help from technical support forums, consult with experts, or use alternative software or methods to create or convert your documents.

Corrupted files

How to locate corrupted XPS files?

  1. If you can’t open the XPS file or if it crashes the software, it could be a sign of corruption.
  2. Look for any error messages that appear when trying to open or manipulate the XPS file.
  3. Check if parts of the document are missing, such as images, text, or entire pages.
  4. Distorted layout, with misaligned text, images, or other elements might be caused by corruption.
  5. If the text appears as gibberish, symbols, or unreadable characters, or you see unexpected or random characters within the content it could be a sign of content corruption.
  6. Compare the file size of the potentially corrupted XPS file to similar, non-corrupted XPS files. A significant difference in size could indicate corruption.
  7. Check if the file extension has been changed or if the file is no longer recognized as an XPS file.

How to fix corrupted XPS file?

  1. Try opening the corrupted XPS file using different XPS viewers or editors to see if any of them can automatically repair minor issues.
  2. Convert the corrupted XPS file to PDF format and then, convert the PDF back to XPS.
  3. Use specialized XPS repair tools that can attempt to repair corrupted XPS files.
  4. If you have backup copies of the XPS file, try restoring the file from a previous version.

Font embedding issues in XPS files

How to identify font embedding problems?

  1. Open the XPS file in an XPS Viewer or an application that supports this format.
  2. Review the document to see if any text is displayed using default(fallback) system fonts instead of the intended font.
  3. If you have access to the original document (e.g., a Word or PowerPoint file), compare the appearance of the text in the XPS file with the original.
  4. If the XPS Viewer allows you to view document properties, including font information, take a look at a font list to see the fonts used in the document. If they are not the ones you intended to use, there might be font embedding problems.
  5. Check for special characters or symbols if your document contains any. If they look incorrectly or as placeholders, font embedding could be a factor.
  6. Open the XPS file on different systems. If the document looks different on different systems, font embedding might not be successful on all of them.
  7. Check font licensing because if the fonts used in your document are not embeddable due to licensing limitations, the XPS viewer might substitute them.
  8. If you plan to print the XPS file, try printing a test copy to see if the fonts are rendered correctly.
  9. Use font validation tools to analyze the fonts used in a document and help you identify if fonts are fully embedded or only partially embedded.

How to solve XPS file font embedding problem?

  1. Choose fonts that explicitly permit embedding for distribution when creating your original document. Check also if they have the necessary licensing permissions for embedding.
  2. Embed Fonts during XPS Creation
  3. Check font substitution. If you notice it, consider adjusting your document to use fonts that are more spread on a wide range of systems.
  4. Consider placing the necessary fonts in the C:\Windows\Fonts folder (if you use Windows).
  5. Recreate the document from scratch using fonts that are known to embed properly if the font embedding issues maintain. Copy and paste the content from the original document into a new document with the adjusted font settings.
  6. Convert to PDF, the format that is widely supported and often has better font embedding capabilities.
  7. If you can’t resolve font embedding issues on your own, consider seeking assistance from a graphic designer, desktop publishing specialist, or technical support from the software you’re using.

Problems with image quality

How to fix image quality problems in XPS files?

Spotting image quality problems is easier as they just appear pixelated, or blurry. Here’s how you can improve image quality in XPS files:

  1. Check if the images you’re including in your original document are of high resolution. Images with higher pixel densities will generally retain better quality after conversion to XPS format.
  2. Pay attention to image compression settings and choose ones that maintain image quality.
  3. Avoid overcompression because it leads to a noticeable loss of quality. Opt for moderate compression levels to strike a balance between file size and image clarity.
  4. If possible, use lossless image formats like PNG, but check if this results in larger file sizes.
  5. Use images within the XPS file if possible because they tend to retain better quality compared to linked images.
  6. If you’re facing consistent image quality problems, try using different XPS creation tools or software because they might handle image compression and embedding differently.
  7. Resize images in the document layout software which can help prevent upscaling or downscaling issues that affect image quality.
  8. If you insert images into your document, it is better not to enlarge small images beyond their original dimensions because it leads to pixelation and loss of quality.
  9. Try to convert the file to PDF and then back to XPS
  10. Test files on different viewers
  11. If you intend to print the XPS file, ensure that the image’s resolution is suitable for printing. It is typically higher than the screen resolution.

Problems with the size of the XPS file

How to deal with large-size XPS files?

Reducing the size of XPS files is dealt with by optimizing various elements within the document to minimize the file size while preserving quality. Let’s take a look at some tips to decrease the size of large XPS files:

  1. Reduce the resolution and compress images before inserting them into the document.
  2. Use efficient image formats like JPEG for photographs and PNG for images with transparency.
  3. Use standard fonts, the ones that are likely to be available on most systems. Custom fonts may increase the file size due to embedding.
  4. Choose to embed only the fonts that are necessary for the document. Embedding all fonts can significantly increase file size.
  5. Remove any unused or redundant content like pages, images, graphics, and text.
  6. Simplify complex graphics to reduce the complexity and file size.
  7. If documents don’t require color, you can convert images and graphics to monochrome or grayscale to reduce the amount of color data.
  8. Utilize XPS built-in compression options that can help reduce file size.
  9. Convert to PDF and then back to XPS.
  10. Adjust the page sizes to be smaller, but pay close attention to readability and layout when doing this.
  11. If you use the Microsoft XPS Document Writer to create the XPS file, adjust printer properties such as paper size and resolution to optimize file size.

Remember to review the document after editing to ensure that its content, formatting, and quality are still acceptable. Keep the balance between file size and maintaining the document’s readability and quality.

XPS file formatting inconsistency issue

How to fix formatting inconsistency of XPS files?

Fixing formatting inconsistencies in XPS files requires attention to the elements that are not displaying correctly. Here is what you can do here:

  1. Open the original document (e.g., Word, PowerPoint) you used to create the XPS file. Check if the formatting is consistent in the source document.
  2. Try recreating the XPS file from scratch using the original document. Make sure that all formatting settings are correctly applied when XPS was created.
  3. Ensure that all fonts used in the document are properly embedded.
  4. Check if the page settings such as margins, orientation, and size are consistent between the source document and the XPS file. Styles and Formatting:
  5. Check that styles (headings, paragraphs, etc.) and headers and footers are applied consistently throughout the document.
  6. Check the positioning and alignment of images and graphics as it affects the document’s appearance.
  7. Make sure that hyperlinks are functional and lead to the correct and existing destinations.
  8. If there are tables in your XPS file, verify their formatting, cell alignment, borders, and shading are consistent.
  9. Use the print preview function in the original document software to simulate how the document appears when printed.
  10. Open the file in multiple XPS viewers to check if the formatting inconsistencies are viewer-specific.
  11. Convert to PDF and then back to XPS.
  12. Update the software you’re using to create and view XPS files. It is better to have it up to date.

Errors caused by conversion to XPS

How to spot errors caused by conversion file to xps?

Here are explained steps you should take to see if the file has errors gotten after transforming your file to XPS:

  1. Check if the formatting of the content has changed after conversion. Pay attention to shifts in font styles, sizes, colors, indentation, and alignment.
  2. Inspect the XPS file to ensure that all images, graphics, charts, and other visual content is present and correctly placed.
  3. Review the text content for any missing, added, or rearranged text. Even small alterations can significantly affect the meaning of the document. Check also special characters, symbols, and if any text doesn’t match the original file.
  4. Check hyperlinks and cross-references within the XPS file to make sure they are not broken and lead where they are supposed to.
  5. Compare the original file and the XPS version if there are pages missing, extra pages are present, or the page order is incorrect.
  6. Check if the fonts used in the original file are replicated the same way in the XPS version.
  7. Compare the file size of the input document with the output XPS file to see if there’s a significant difference.
  8. Check the document for any unusual page breaks, line spacing, or paragraph spacing that wasn’t present in the original file.
  1. Check if the text that should be hyperlinked is clickable or not. Hover over the hyperlink text to see if the cursor changes to an icon, that indicates that the text is a link. If not, the hyperlink might not be properly recognized. Also observe if the hyperlink text appears in a different color (usually blue) and is underlined
  2. Click on each hyperlink to test if it leads to the intended destination.
  3. Check the URLs of hyperlinks to see if they’re correctly formatted. Improperly formatted URLs might lead to broken links. Common such issues are missing http:// or https://, incorrect characters, or extra spaces or hyperlink text partially cut-off or truncated.
  4. Compare the styling of hyperlinks in the XPS document with the rest of the text. If the font, size, color, or other styling elements differ, there could be a problem with how hyperlinks were converted or maintained.
  5. Check if hyperlinks are placed correctly within the text or if they disrupt the flow of the content or overlap with other text.
  6. Try opening the XPS file with different software or viewers to verify if the problem is not connected to the soft itself.
  7. In XPS documents, hyperlinks are often represented as annotations. Check any annotations that should be hyperlinks but are not functioning as such.
  8. If hyperlinks are used for cross-referencing within the document, check if they lead to the correct sections, pages, or headings.
  9. In case you have image-based hyperlinks, verify if there is alternate text associated with the image.

Fixing problems with hyperlinks in XPS files involves editing and formatting them properly. But in case you constantly face issues with hyperlink functionality in XPS files, consider contacting experts in XPS formatting, document conversion, or digital publishing for assistance.

Issue of losing interactivity in the resulting XPS file

How to fix the lack of interactivity in the XPS document?

To fix this issue you need a combination of ensuring that the content is properly formatted and using the right tools to create interactive elements:

  1. Ensure you use software that provides interactivity options for XPS files.
  2. If you convert from another format to XPS, review the settings of the conversion tool. The interactivity options, such as hyperlinks and interactive elements, should be enabled during the conversion process.
  3. If your XPS document contains sections, consider adding bookmarks and a table of contents.
  4. If your document includes multimedia elements like videos and audio clips, ensure that it is properly embedded there. Depending on the software, you might be able to create interactive forms like fields for text input, checkboxes, radio buttons, etc., within the XPS file.
  5. Check if your software supports adding annotations that can provide interactivity by adding notes, comments, or highlighting to the content.
  6. Some XPS tools allow you to include JavaScript to improve interactivity, but you should be careful with this approach. Test the resulting XPS file using multiple XPS viewers to ensure that the interactivity works well on different platforms.
  7. Upgrade your software to a more feature-rich application that supports interactivity in XPS documents.
  8. Check if you follow standardized XPS specifications.
  9. If nothing works, consider consulting professionals or developers experienced with XPS files and interactive content.

XPS file Metadata issues

How identify if metadata is missing from an XPS file?

  1. Check the file properties. Make right-click on the XPS file and select “Properties”. Go to the “Details” or “Properties” tab to see the Metadata.
  2. Check for the title of the XPS file. If there is no any or if it doesn’t reflect the content, metadata might be missing.
  3. Search for the author’s name or creator of the document in the file properties. Missing it can indicate incomplete metadata.
  4. Check if the creation date and modification date coincide with the time when the XPS file was originally created/modified.
  5. Check if any keywords or tags are present if there were any in the original file.
  6. Make the same actions for the description of the XPS file’s content.
  7. Verify if there’s a source or copyright information included in the metadata to attribute the content correctly and provide proper credit.
  8. Use XPS metadata tools to examine and edit metadata information in files. They can help you identify missing or incorrect metadata. It is better to use a few different tools as they can show different Metadata regarding their functionality.
  9. If the XPS file was created by conversion from another format, compare the metadata of the two files.
  10. If you received the XPS file from a specific source or creator, add the cross-reference to the source to ensure that the metadata is accurate and complete.

Problems with accessibility

How to locate accessibility issues in an XPS file?

  1. Use screen reader software (e.g., NVDA, JAWS) to read through the XPS file. Search for any inaccuracies, missing content, or strange phrasing that might indicate accessibility issues.
  2. Try navigating the file using only the keyboard. Everything is fine if you can access all interactive elements, hyperlinks, and content in a logical order.
  3. Check if images have alternative text that describes their content to those who cannot see them.
  4. Examine anchor text. It should be descriptive and provide context, rather than using generic phrases like “click here.”
  5. Review the document’s headings to make sure they are structured hierarchically (e.g., using <h1>, <h2>, etc.). Headings are useful to help understand the document’s structure and navigate easily.
  6. Check text and background color contrast using color contrast checkers to ensure readability for users with visual impairments.
  7. If your XPS document has forms, check if form fields are properly labeled and that users can navigate through them.
  8. Test if interactive elements receive keyboard focus and display a clear indicator to highlight the focused element.
  9. Attempt to increase the text size to see if the content remains readable without horizontal scrolling or layout issues.
  10. If your XPS includes multimedia (videos, audio), ensure that there are captions, transcripts, and other necessary accommodations for individuals with hearing impairments.
  11. Use legible and widely supported fonts to ensure that screen readers can interpret the text accurately. Consider having one of the dyslexic fonts, for users who struggle with dis disorder.
  12. Involve individuals with disabilities in user testing. Their feedback can provide valuable insights into any accessibility challenges they encounter.
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