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I have a nice high resolution PNG. (Download from Dropbox) When I paste this into a new Word document, it looks good. I can't zoom in more than 500% but at that zoom level all lines are smooth, as expected.

Now I click File > Save as and select PDF from the Dropdown. From Tool > Compress Images (right next to the save button) I select "use document resolution". Then, I hit save.

Expected: The image in the PDF (viewed in Adobe Reader) should have a similar quality as the PNG.

Reality: The Image is much worse than the PNG. Maybe downsampled to 96ppi.


  • When I am in the save dialog and I go again to Tools > Compress Images, the selected option is reverted to "E-Mail (96 dpi)"
  • I tried the same thing on a diffewrent computer with Word 2013, but no luck.
  • I tried a different PDF viewer - same image quality
  • I tried to encode normal 96 ppi within the PNG and resize the image in word.
  • The option "do not compress images in file" is enabled. This option: (This option)
  • This is a reduced problem, so please don't suggest GIMP. My real file has some text in it. Until now I am just reluctant of redoing it all in LaTeX.
  • The problem gets worse, when the image is further reduced within word. This points to a resampling going on when the pdf is created.

Additional thing I have tried:

  • When I use "Printing (220ppi)" instead of "document resolution" there is no discernible difference. (After all I thought that "document resolution" means that no resampling takes place and the full resolution is used.)
  • Exporting to XPS format has the same characteristics.

Question: How can I preserve the image quality when exporting to PDF?

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Compliments to this very accurate and neatly detailed question! I wished every question would be like this. What kind of Office are you running? I gave it a shot with Office 2007, Microsoft's PDF plugin, a high-res png and the pdf came out alright – Zerobinary99 Sep 15 '13 at 14:51
Thanks :-) I use Word 2010, but have the same issue with Word 2013 on my laptop. – DasKrümelmonster Sep 15 '13 at 14:53
FWIW I don't know of a way other than using a 3rd-party PDF maker with the relevant higher-res settings. – bibadia Sep 15 '13 at 15:32
I would use Ginmp to open the PNG files and then export each to PDF. Check the result for quality and see if it's up to your standard. :) – Darius Apr 17 '14 at 18:14

10 Answers 10

Any easier solution might be to forego the in-built pdf conversion and use a pdf printer (I use pdfcreator) You'll likely find finer grained control (including DPI settings of the printout - start w/ 600x600 but it supports up to 2400x2400 iirc).

This may be an easier solution as it won't force you to reformat existing docs. It's also free.

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Thanks! Should be the answer IMO. When installing PDFCreator, I suggest using Expert Mode > Deselect PDFArchitect (60MB!) + help files/languages. When printing, default settings worked a charm for me. – Dunc Oct 8 '14 at 9:53
Wow. It might be free, but it has been a while that I saw so many spamware in a download. I thought I ticked everything off and now I still end up with my Chrome default search settings screwed up. – Dirk Boer Apr 10 '15 at 10:47
Well @JoelAZ, I don't know when it was the last time that you tried it, but nowadays the bundle comes with BingProtect. And that's a really horrible one. Even trying to set back your search engine in the settings is being overridden by this malware. Despite that, the uninstaller didn't work. I'd say that's pretty evil. Anyone who is not a nerd like us would be really screwed. – Dirk Boer Apr 11 '15 at 8:21
@DirkBoer wow sorry to hear the trouble it's caused you. I actually use it still I just haven't installed without ninite in quite a while so haven't seen native installer lately. It's a shame they ruin a good product with such foolish shenanigans. Apologies my recommendation caused you grief or harm Dirk. – JoelAZ Apr 11 '15 at 14:45
@DirkBoer I'm not familiar with bingprotect but in the past it was either Ask toolbar or Yahoo toolbar. Annoying but not truly hurtful. This bingprotect thing sounds like they've crossed the bridge from tacky behavior to shady. Hopefully others users will take heed. – JoelAZ Apr 13 '15 at 2:58

I discovered the trick: when you save as PDF, go to Options (under the PDF) and uncheck ISO19005-1 Compliant Problem solved!

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I did this and the picture is quite clear even at 200% resolution in PDF – Firee Oct 16 '15 at 11:14

The results of exporting using the "Save As" dialogue are different to the results when exporting using File->Export->Create PDF/XPS.

I found that exporting using the latter method is far higher quality by default.

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doesn't work for me (in word 2010). resulting pdf is bad quality. – cafe876 Jun 17 at 8:32

Just for completeness (because it hasn't been excluded in the question): with SVG graphics you no longer have to worry about "preserving quality" concerning the resolution. It scales in arbitrary sizes. This only works for graphics consisting of forms, not for photos, though.

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But Word doesn't support SVG images. – Andreas Rejbrand Jul 31 '14 at 23:40
You're right, wouldn't have thought about it in my worst nightmares... what a lack of feature! – Karl Richter Aug 1 '14 at 1:05
You can convert SVG files to EMF format (vector image format from Microsoft), which is supported by Word. – Iván Pérez Sep 19 '14 at 14:08

If you have MS Publisher in your office suite, it gives you much greater control over the print quality of published PDFs. Where the best save option in Word is to 'Optimize for: Standard (publishing online and printing)', in Publisher you get standard, high quality, and commercial printing options with a selection of dpi tweaks available. The file size rockets, but the quality is superb!

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A workaround is to install doPDF. You'll get crisp images, no file degradation, and easy to change dpi and small output files. Another alternative is PrimoPDF which is also a PDF Printer like doPDF, but it may generate huge files, and it does have a problem that the font looks OK on screen but jagged when printed, even with fonts like Arial.

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Try this:

By default, MS Word compress images which can reduce the image quality when converting to PDF. You can turn off this setting as follows:

  1. In Word, click File, Options.
  2. Click Advanced, scroll down to Image Size and Quality.
  3. Turn off Discard editing data.
  4. Select Do not compress images in file.
  5. Select Set default target output to 220 ppi.
  6. Save the changes.
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I tried this option already (see question), to no avail. – DasKrümelmonster Oct 21 '15 at 8:08

Try this:

  1. Open the Word 2013 document with the images inserted.
  2. Click File, Save As, and PDF from the drop-down menu. The Options button is displayed at the bottom of the window.
  3. Click Options.
  4. On the Options dialog box, select ISO 19005-1 complaint (PDF/A) in the PDF options section.
  5. Save the changes.

There are other workarounds over here in this tutorial

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Does not work for me. Same low resolution and the option makes virtually no difference. – DasKrümelmonster Oct 21 '15 at 8:06
Have you tried using EPS files instead of Jpg/Gif? – ivan walsh Oct 22 '15 at 12:57

I had been facing the lose of image quality when converting from Word to PDF. I found that in addition to the advanced settings, we need to check the following option:

enter image description here

The standard option must me selected while saving.

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Word scales the image automatically depending on the paper size, so you need to increase it to increase the PDF's resolution.

  • The PNG you want to turn into pdf has a resolution of 1600x1600, so use a paper size that reflects this aspect ratio. Set your paper size to 55.87cm x 55.87cm (biggest Word 2007 supports)

  • Import the PNG and stretch it out to the maximum size the page supports.

  • Export it to PDF and enjoy your high res pdf :)

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The real document should be 85mm by 55mm, and the image is 10mm by 10mm. Changing that is not really a solution imho. The printer supports something like 600dpi, so 96dpi will definitely look blurry. – DasKrümelmonster Sep 15 '13 at 15:04
You can print the PDF in any size you want. Downscaling is preserving the quality. Try my solution and adapt it to a multiple of your expected resolution like 51cm x 33cm. Printing it to a smaller sheet with the same aspect ratio will preserve the image's quality. You could also get a proper pdf-plugin for Word that offers more options than the rudimentary built-in pdf support. – Zerobinary99 Sep 15 '13 at 15:15
I am trying. Ans while this solves the problem for a single image, it is not easy for an existing dicument. Scaling all the font sizes as well as the coordinates of tables, textboxes and images by 6 is a PITA. I consider this more of a workaround than a solution - after all, resampling still takes place. – DasKrümelmonster Sep 15 '13 at 15:45
You wrote in your description that you "use document resolution" as a setting for the file. Using the original sheet measurements of 85mm x 55mm will thusly result in pixelation as the document resolution is just too low. I agree that adjusting the font sizes this way is a pain, but other than using third party add ons there's probably little you can do. You could try installing the pdf-update for Office 2007 since it doesn't have the options you described and may be allows for what you want. Other than that I can only recommend using Nitro PDF or something similar. – Zerobinary99 Sep 15 '13 at 15:50
Another solution would be edit your pdf with an editor and replace the low-res picture with a high-res version. There are free editors available. There's even one that allows you to edit pdf-files online in your browser if you don't mind the lack of data security. – Zerobinary99 Sep 15 '13 at 15:51

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