Both PDF Creator and Bulldog PDF Printer produce terrible looking on-screen results with simple images in Word documents (haven't tried from other applications). By simple images, I mean GIF, JPEG or PNG representations of text and line art. For example, if I have a GIF version of the CE Mark in a Word document, it looks fine in Word but in the resulting PDF the lines are all jagged on-screen.

I've tried various settings in both PDF Creator and Bulldog. High quality, screen quality, etc. I've tried disabling image compression and whatnot.

The resultant PDF seems to print just fine, it's only when viewing in Acrobat Reader that the images look terrible.

Here's the kicker, when I use the Adobe PDF Printer that ships with Acrobat, and select "High Quality Print", the images in the resultant PDF look great on screen.

I know that both PDF Creator and Bulldog use Ghostscript behind the scenes. I'm not sure if this problem is just the way it is, or if there is some setting that can fix this problem for one or both applications.

  • 1
    Which version of Word are you using? There is a free save as PDF Add-in for Office 2007. microsoft.com/downloads/…
    – stukelly
    Aug 10, 2009 at 21:33
  • Currently 2003.
    – boden
    Aug 10, 2009 at 21:46
  • I too used this open source PDFCreator, It modified my firefox's setting, the default search engine was changed to some " my.staticpage " It also installed a plugin called "protect webbrowser settings". Also the software is not at all good. The results are not even up to the mark. I finally uninstalled it. Sep 6, 2009 at 7:45
  • I have the same problem as you, but no real workaround. The quality of the images produced can sometimes be atrocious.
    – alex
    Sep 21, 2009 at 21:26
  • 1
    Update: I've found that the Word 2007 save as PDF feature produces good results.
    – boden
    Sep 29, 2009 at 15:17

8 Answers 8


Not sure about the image quality, but have you tried CutePDF Writer? It's always seemed to work pretty well for me when i didn't have Adobe tools handy.

Edit: changing the transparent CE.gif image to have a solid white background, then re-including it, helped immensely. I used Paint.NET to load the image, add a layer under the CE, fill with white, flatten, then re-save as CEsolid.gif. Insert that into Word and print with CutePDF helps.

Below is a screenshot of a PDF printed from Word with the transparent image next to the same image with a white background.

alt text

Also, if you dig through the CutePDF settings, you can set the graphic quality. On the Print dialog, click Properties, Paper/Quality tab, Advanced, then Graphic/Print Quality. Can set up to 4000dpi. Not sure how much that helps in this case, but FYI.

  • Nope, same problem.
    – boden
    Aug 10, 2009 at 21:57
  • Rats. I just did the same thing (CE.gif) and got the jagged results you describe. Surely there's a way to force higher resolution rasterization. In the meantime, it doesn't solve the GIF problem, but FYI if you use the EPS version of CE, it comes out pretty nice.
    – b w
    Aug 11, 2009 at 14:07
  • 1
    Okay, the CE graphic is transparent. Try changing the background to solid white (or whatever color you need). Then insert it and print to PDF. It looks much better. Not perfect, but noticeably better.
    – b w
    Aug 11, 2009 at 14:17

Your problem is not related to PDF conversion but to image resolution. Word and the like process the image through an anti-aliasing filter before displaying it on the screen. It looks good in Word, although a bit blurry (if you zoom in). This antialiasing thing is a plague in nowadays software: it is meant to the screen, not to the paper you will print on. I suspect the Adobe pseudo-printer to blur stuff a bit when you "print" into it configured with best quality.



Try PrimoPDF, I've never had any problems with it.

  • Nope, same problem as PDF Creator and others. I tried each quality option with roughly the same result.
    – boden
    Aug 10, 2009 at 21:52

Use XnView to save as a PDF file. XnView does not compress images, but "packing" in pdf format. Each program is based on Ghostscript spoils image quality. It does not help change the quality settings, eg in PDFCreator


I ran into this same problem, and as noted by OP in his comments, using the Microsoft "Save as PDF" option in Word 2007/2010 is the only solution that actually works.

I confirmed this with personal experience (in Word 2007 and CutePDF). Trying another PDF converter changed absolutely nothing. Editing the image to have a white background and reinserting it into Word document gave marginally better results, but the picture still had ugly, jagged edges.

Finally, I used "Save as PDF" from within Word, and voila, picture perfect PDF!

If you have Word 2007, you will need to download and install this add-in to be able to use it in Word. Here's the link: http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=7. After installation, you will be able to choose this option from the Office Button menu, like so:

Word 2007 Save As PDF

If you have Word 2010, there's no need to install anything extra, the functionality is built into the software. Just click the Office Button, and choose "Save As", then "PDF":

Word 2010 Save AS PDF

Why is this so? Not really sure. @Patrick gives a possible explanation in his answer. Perhaps the "Save as PDF" function in Word applies some anti-aliasing to the image, while free PDF conversion programs do not. Maybe it's part of a grand monopolistic scheme by Microsoft to prevent interoperability with other programs. In the end, it doesn't really matter, as long as you have a solution that works. Enjoy your pretty PDF pictures!


For PDFCreator, try image compression settings. Set it to ZIP over the default of JPEG as JPEG is a lossy format.

Options - Formats - PDF - Compression tab and change to ZIP


I am on Word 2003, and the only way I could keep the image quality high was using the windows 7 default "Microsoft XPS Document Writer" as a printer. Afterwards I opened the XPS and then printed the PDF using PDFcreator.

The settings mentioned in the other answer:

Options - Formats - PDF - Compression tab and change to ZIP

did not work for me. Also unchecking the compression checkbox for all images did not help, unfortunately.

PS: Could be that resizing the graphic within Word is the cause of this problem.


Have you tried doPDF? I haven't tried it on just simple screen caps - but everything else I have passed it have turned out great. Including various web pages which would have similar low resolution graphics that can be problematic.


  • 1
    Well, I have it a try and it produces better results, but still pretty ugly. Unfortunately the program doesn't offer much in the way of control, so I'm not sure if I can tweak it. Thanks for the suggestion!
    – boden
    Aug 10, 2009 at 21:45

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