if i want to make a pdf file from my office word document (.docx) is there a difference between the following:

  1. File-> Save As-> choosing the "PDF" in "Save as type" prompt
  2. File-> Export-> "Create a PDF/XPS Document"
  3. File-> Print-> choosing "Microsoft Printer to PDF" in Printer prompt
  • IIRC, in the past, you couldn’t save as PDF. You had to use the export dialog. – Daniel B Oct 28 '19 at 18:27
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    As long as each PDF produced is readable and looks precisely the same when viewed in other readers, I suggest not worrying about it. For curiousity's sake, you might generate one of each PDFs, and running WinMerge to compare them. – Christopher Hostage Oct 28 '19 at 18:35

The short answer is that Export is usually to save in a different format, but if the desired format is available in both Export and Save there is no difference between them to most users.

Typically, Export is used to make a new copy of the active document in a format that is not normally supported, so that it can be opened with a different program. Save As on the other hand, offers the ability to create a new copy of the active document in a normally supported format for the application (Word, in this case).

Sometimes an exported document may not be identical to the original, as the new format may not support the same feature set, but a saved document is generally expected to be identical to the original (except perhaps for features not present in older versions of the file format).

In the case of Word, PDF was originally not a supported format for Save but has since been added (either because Word now more fully supports PDFs, or perhaps simply as a convenience link to the existing Export functionality), making Export redundant.

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A Microsoft Support agent NathalieNicole stated a few minutes ago: Thank you, with regards to your concern there is no differences to the three way on how to make PDF in Word since whatever steps you will use it show the same results. We have these ways so that when the first steps is not successful we still have workarounds to think of.

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There is a difference, since each of the three methods uses a different software module to generate the PDF. Which method will give the best results is dependent upon the file in question.

From the quote by K7AAY, Microsoft tripled the methods just in order to ensure that at least one of them will give good results. The Microsoft agent tried to say that any result would be good and all would be identical, but that's simply not true. There are other complex aspects, such embedded fonts and more, that would surely be slightly different for each method.

I would like to add that sometimes all three methods failed to give a satisfactory result, and this happened to me a few times. To fix the problems I used another virtual PDF printer than Microsoft's.

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