I've just finished collaborating on a document in Google Docs with some colleagues. The content is perfect and the formatting is pretty good, but I'd like to tweak the formatting a little more before sending it out (as a PDF).

If I just download it as a PDF from Google Docs the embedded graphics are low-res and pixelated - Google Docs is a great tool for collaboration but not the best tool for doing some advanced formatting.

If I have a Google Doc and want it in a PDF format, but with better quality images and maybe a few things tweaked on the formatting, can I do this, and if so, what is the best way to do this?

I see that I can export it in several formats (ODT, PDF, RTF, Text, Word, HTML). I know Illustrator can open PDF files, and perhaps InDesign can too. But is there an easier way or is this the best method?

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  • PDF should be your absolute last resort for exporting and importing documents between applications for editing. This file format is designed to serve as a substitute for a printed page, and it is not intended to be editable. Although many programs can "import" PDFs for editing, this functionality is necessarily kludgy and should be used only when there is no other option. The results are nowhere near as clean or useful as can be attained by importing from an editable file format. – Miles Erickson Dec 7 '11 at 3:12

If you have Microsoft Word installed, it's much better suited to taking a Google Doc and sprucing it up. I've done this many times before, and it tends to work pretty well. Graphics usually look better than the export-to-PDF function, and the text is all still freeform so you can edit it as you please.


In the professional services industry, reports and proposals typically are created as follows:

  1. Report is drafted by project team using MS Word, Google Docs, or whatever.
  2. The completed text is delivered to the in-house graphics department in MS Word (.doc) format.
  3. Someone in the graphics department imports the report into InDesign and uses creative magic to beautify the content.
  4. The newly beautified document is saved as a PDF and delivered to the client.

Bottom line: Use the Microsoft Word file format. Do not use PDF.

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