Bad Pdf created in Word 2010

ycherem's picture

I googled a lot and still couldn't find a simple answer or a solution for this. I created two very similar documents, one with InDesign, another with Word 2010. Exported to pdf, the quality of the pdf produced in Word is much worse. Any reason why?

Frode Bo Helland's picture

Yes: MS Word was not made to do this, InDesign was.

Si_Daniels's picture

Bad as in wolf? A pointer to the PDFs along with a scan of a print out from each app would be useful.

JamesM's picture

InDesign is made by Adobe and Adobe controls PDF technology; other companies must get a license from Adobe. It's hard to tell what's happening in your particular situation without seeing the PDFs, but often in lower-quality PDFs the type and vector graphics look okay but bitmapped graphics like photos are reproduced in lower quality, similar to what happens if you make a PDF in InDesign and choose "smallest file size" as the quality setting (rather than one of the higher-quality setting).

Si_Daniels's picture

>very similar documents

I'd be interested in how similar these docs are. I've seen bad documents producr bad PDFs.

Khaled Hosny's picture

In my limited experience (tried it only once), PDF's generated by Microsoft Offoce 2010 are raster images of the document in a PDF wrapper, or that what it seems like, so I guess this is bad PDF quality he is referring too.

ycherem's picture

Here is word:


And here is indesign:

When I say "similar", I just mean same font, size, same text.

I guess the word pdf is a raster image, according to Khaled, am I right?

Just a question: if I use another application (such as acrobat pro) to convert the word doc into pdf, will the result be better? Or is it better to just stick to InDesign?

forrest's picture

"if I use another application (such as acrobat pro) the word doc into pdf, will the result be better?"

Yes. With some fonts in Word, Print to PDF works much better than Save as PDF.

Devadaru's picture

There are some good tools, like Cute PDF Writer, that can convert Word docs into fairly good PDFs (but always check the output, especially that the fonts have been properly converted).

About Word versus InDesign: one will always have more control over the design of the document in InDesign. Not only better PDFs, but better control over typographic details, better word justification, etc. If your aim is speed, maybe churning out documents, use Word. If your aim is good design and quality, use ID.


Igor Freiberger's picture

Youssef, se podes usar o InDesign, será sempre preferível. Além da qualidade muito superior ao Word, ele permite exportar o documento em vários formatos (Word, PDF, Flash, EPS, JPG, PNG). Eu faço no InDesign desde listas de supermercado até monografias. Se preferes redigir em um editor de texto, podes experimentar o OpenOffice (gratuito), que possui uma boa ferramenta interna de exportação para PDF. Se tiveres alguma outra dúvida sobre o ID, podes me contatar.

[To English readers: this Portuguese text suggests to ycherem to always stick to ID. OpenOffice is a possible alternative to Word.]

ycherem's picture

Dear Freiberger and Devadaru,

Thanks a lot for your opinion. I just found out that InDesign is much easier than I'd previously thought -- although its Portuguese spelling dictionary is awful, and there's no autocorrection in Portuguese at all... or is there?

JamesM's picture

Thanks for posting examples. Word seems to be making it into a raster image, which seems absurd to me as it makes the image lower quality and would probably make the file size larger, too.

Do all the PDFs made in Word look like that, or could it be a font issue or some kind of corruption in just that particular document?

You might want to make a new Word file, type one sentence in a different font family, and make a PDF as a test.

Michael_Rowley's picture

I always use Adobe's MakePDF, which is supplied with Acrobat (version 5 or later), to make PDF documents from Word documents. Unfortunately, it doesn't seem to work yet with Word 2010. I'm fairly relaxed about this, since it didn't work with Word 2007 when it was released, but a later version of it did. If you use Word's save as PDF, you're confined to True Type fonts; however, the PDF's are text PDF's.

Si_Daniels's picture

>Thanks for posting examples. Word seems to be making it into a raster image, which seems absurd to me as it makes the image lower quality and would probably make the file size larger, too.

That's interesting. My instant reaction is that perhaps the fonts used in the doc are set to "no embedding". If you want to send me the base doc and PDFs I'd be happy to investigate - *

Cheers, Si


Igor Freiberger's picture


ID autocorrection in Portuguese will work exactly as in English, but ID does not come with a pre-built list of corrections. So you need to build up your own list.

You can also add words to its custom Portuguese dictionary. If you already added words to Word dictionary, you can import it at once to ID (just find the USUARIO.dic file in your computer and import it to ID). Be aware ID records hyphenation in his dictionary (using ~ to separate syllabes).

If you use Windows, you can change ID interface to any supported language just editing the registry path:

HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE / SOFTWARE / Wow6432node / Adobe / InDesign / 7.0 / User Interface Locale Setting.

Values are numerical. Use 07 is Brazilian Portuguese. You can reuse settings already created to one tongue to another simply copying the folder:

C:\Users\Admin\AppData\Roaming\Adobe\Adobe InDesign CS5

Here you will find a folder like en_GB or en_US. Copy, paste and rename it to the language you set InDesign (v.g., pt_BR).

This tip is not documented in any ID material. It works with CS3, CS4 and CS5 (I did not test in older versions).

Theunis de Jong's picture

Don't attempt to use InDesign as a word processor.

Type, spell-check, and correct your text with Word (or, for that matter, with any package you work most comfortable with). Only then put your text into InDesign, and format it.

Word is an excellent writers' tool but sucks in advanced typography; for InDesign it's the other way around. You should use both programs to their fullest.

Si_Daniels's picture

Reformatting the document in Palatino Linotype resulted in a Word generated PDF of comparable size and quality to the Indy produced PDF. Not sure what it is about the Arno fonts that Word didn't like, and not sure if Word doesn't like any Type 1 or CFF fonts. Confirming if the doc uses off-the-shelf Arno's or a special custom version and will then check with Word team.

Si_Daniels's picture

Okay, I heard back from the Office gurus. Word will rasterize rather than embed "no embedding" fonts and non-TrueType fonts. The fonts in question were OpenType CFF. I've given the team a few pointers if they want to address this limitation in the future.

ycherem's picture

Thanks a lot Simon, that really solved my doubts about that.

JamesM's picture

> Word will rasterize rather than embed "no embedding" fonts

Very interesting, and I can see the logic in that.

I wonder if other applications such as InDesign have similar behavior with "no embedding" fonts.

forrest's picture

Simon - are they talking about the "Save as PDF" function in Word 2010 or even with printing to PDF?

I get rasterized letters when I do that. But if I print to Adobe PDF (from CS4) I get sharp letters. This is true for Postscript fonts, plus Open Type fonts that allow embedding that I got from Adobe.

Also, does anyone know of a free Open Type font that does not allow embedding I could test this on?

ahyangyi's picture


J. Tillman's picture

sii, are OpenType (truetype flavor) or OpenType (postscript flavor) able to be properly made into PDF by MS Word? I read your reply saying only TrueType, but I'm not sure exactly where the line is drawn. If not, is there hope for improvement in the near future? Thank you.

Si_Daniels's picture

Here's the word from, er Word...

Office does not expose a Print to PDF action. We have two entry points in most apps: File/Save As and one where the user chooses PDF/XPS explicitly in the Outspace (File/Save and Send/Create PDF/XPS Document in Word 2010). Both of these run the same MS code and will have the same behavior with font embedding.

When people say they are using Print to PDF, they are using a third-party print driver, perhaps from Adobe, perhaps from someone else. We do not ship an MS print-to-PDF driver. Depending on the third party, they will get different results.

> are OpenType (truetype flavor) or OpenType (postscript flavor) able to be properly made into PDF by MS Word? I read your reply saying only TrueType, but I'm not sure exactly where the line is drawn. If not, is there hope for improvement in the near future? Thank you.

TrueType = embedded as an outline font
OpenType (TrueType flavor) = embedded as an outline font
OpenType (Postscript/CFF flavor) = rasterized

The CFF limitation was on the radar prior to this thread. Can't say if an improvement is in "the near future" but it's being looked into.

Cheers, Si

forrest's picture

@ahyangyi - that font is embeddable.

ahyangyi's picture

Oops, so it's the problem that Word cann't embed CFF flavored OpenType. Sad to learn it :(

butterick's picture

Did I discover a workaround? In Word 2010, after you select save as PDF, click the Options button and uncheck the option "Bitmap text when fonts may not be embedded" (below, it is still checked)

Here's how the text looks in Word 2010:

Here's a save as PDF using the default options. Word tries to convert the fonts to bitmap and it gets garbled.

Here's a save as PDF using the new options:

Igor Freiberger's picture

I know this may be a foolish question, but just to be sure: did you open this PDF in a computer without Minion and Alix installed?

butterick's picture

See for yourself. I posted the two PDFs that were the source of the screenshots above.

Igor Freiberger's picture

Not working.

PDFTest-1 shows rasterized type:

PDFTest-2 does not embed the fonts:

J. Tillman's picture

butterick, I am seeing an apples to oranges comparison. Reading this thread, the issue is: can OpenType Postscript flavor (CFF) fonts be made into a PDF, in Word 2010, without rasterization? The rasterization causes some quality problems.

It seems that you are answering a different question: can non-embeddible fonts be used (rasterized) to make a PDF? The result (yes) is interesting, but not really the original question.

Also, I'm interested to know if Microsoft Word Service Pack 1 changed anything with regard to the original question, if anyone knows.

Si_Daniels's picture

I am pretty sure this limitation was not addressed in SP1.

butterick's picture

Not working.

Aha. Then the answer to my question is no, I did not discover a workaround. Thanks for testing it.

J. Tillman's picture

Sii Daniels, thanks for the info. I'll keep a good thought for future versions.

wordly's picture

I think at long last I've come across a fix to this situation. It involves (thankfully) only Word itself and Acrobat...

Check out this link:

Includes comparative screenshots which was cool...

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