PostScript error: dictfull

This error is mostly caused by the complexity of the document that is being processed. It means that there is no more room in PostScript data structures called dictionaries. PostScript uses these to store various objects.

Dictfull errors can only occur on PostScript level 1 RIPs since level II manages its dictionaries dynamically (it increases their size automatically if needed).

Imported graphics, damaged fonts or data corruption

The error can also be caused by imported graphics, damaged fonts or data corruption. Try to isolate the element that caused the error and recreate this element.

Color Central 2.x and QuarkXPress

Color Central 2.X customers who print from QuarkXPress 3.3 to PostScript Level 1 output devices that have a small amount of memory, have reported some problems with image substitution. This is due to the way QuarkXPress 3.3 defines its command dictionaries at the printer. The error most commonly seen is: %%[Error: dictfull; Offending command: def]%%. To counter this problem, Aldus made appropriate changes in Color Central 2.2.


Some applications will use an existing dictionary, called Userdict. This is a device dependent dictionary that will hold 200 entries. Different printers or PostScript versions will use a different number of entries for their internal housekeeping. More elaborate devices, such as imagesetters, may need to use more of the userdict space, leaving less room for software to store entries. This can lead to a ‘Dictfull’ error on an imagesetter for a file that outputs with no problems on a laser printer.

The user doesn’t have much say in correcting this situation; it is a limitation of the program generating the PostScript code. One thing you can try is resetting your RIP and sending the job again. This way you can be sure that no other applications have already used part of the userdict. Also avoid spoolers and OPI-servers because they tend to add another set of entries to dictionaries.

The following patch, taken from the Quite page (, may help. The text in bold has to be added to the PostScript, right after %%BeginSetup if any, else after the initial % lines.

/real-dict /dict load def
/dict { dup add real-dict } def
userdict length dict begin


A message %%[Error: invalid font; PostScript program did not contain a font]%% can pop up while working in Acrobat. It is a popup window that looks a bit like a PostScript error. It is generated by the Acrobat plug-in Enfocus PitStop.

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