Microsoft Word & PDF

Microsoft Word is a very powerful application but to convert its files to a PDF that is suitable for prepress use can be a bit of a challenge.

How to create a PDF file from Word

There are several ways in which Microsoft Word files can be converted to PDF. The best description on how to do this for prepress use can be found here on the GWG web site. Here is a short summary of some of their recommendations:

  • Stick to the use of TrueType fonts in Microsoft Word, as most other font formats are not well supported in PDF creation tools.
  • Try to avoid transparency which gets created in Word by using the magic wand tool.
  • Using the Acrobat PDF Maker offers the best guarantee for good results.
  • The latest updates to Word offer improved support for PDF.

One of the main worries is making sure that the proper fonts get embedded in the PDF. In Word 2007 and Word 2010 go to File > Options > Advanced and scroll down to the Show Document Content section. There is a Font Substitution button that lists missing fonts.

There are also a number of on-line services that convert Word files to PDF. Among the ones that prepress users seem to rely on are:

Another alternative is PrimoPDF, which is a plug-in for MS Office. It appears as a printer in the installed printer list. When you print to it a dialog box comes up in which there is an option to create a PDF 1.4 or 1.5 file.