Converting Microsoft Word Documents to Adobe PDF generates blurry images

Posted by Dan on May 5, 2011 @ 12:15 PM

This is an issue I keep running into I always forget how to resolve the issue, so I thought I'd better blog the solution (that way when I run into it again and search for the fix, I'll find it via Google!)

If you're running into issues when converting a Word 2002/2003/2007 document into a PDF with images from the Word document being extremely blurry, this due to the use of GDI+ technology:

Under some circumstances, Visio and other document types with graphics that are embedded within a Word document may not convert correctly to PDF. This issue affects Word documents opened in Microsoft Word 2002/XP, Word 2003 and Word 2007. This is because these versions of word use the GDI Plus (GDI+) technology to allow printer-independent operations for on-screen rendering. This is most often used when the embedded object uses Postscript fonts. Documents that exhibit this problem might have areas of color, as if someone highlighted the document and missing text and graphics, but only in the embedded object.

There are two solutions to this problem:

Use another document viewer to convert this document
Any document viewer that can read the document and does not use GDI+ can be used to render the embedded object correctly. For example, both Microsoft Word 2000 and Writer do not use GDI+ and can be used to convert documents affected by this issue with no problems.

Convert the embedded object to an image
Probably the easiest solution to this issue is to paste the data as an image, rather than embedding the data into the Word document.

  1. From your application from which you wish to embed data (e.g.: Visio), copy the shapes and the text that you want.
  2. Open Microsoft Word.
  3. On the Edit menu, click Paste Special.
  4. In the Paste Special dialog box, click Bitmap (or Picture XXX), and then click OK.

Note: Do not click Picture (Enhanced Metafile).


I've been using the "Bitmap" option for logos and that seems to work very well to keep the images sharp.

Some asked for a screenshot, so I thought I'd update this entry.

So that you can see the difference, here's a screenshot showing the problem. On the right is a Word document with the same image pasted twice. As you can see, the first version ends up looking extremely blocky when converted to a PDF. The second image was copied from the first image, but pasted using the Paste Special > Bitmap option and looks remarkable better. I wanted both versions in the same PDF so that you can see it's has nothing to do with the PDF conversion settings, but everything to do with Word and GDI+.


Categories: Potpourri


  • Image samples would be great to help pass the message. I've run into jagged edges while converting transparent images to PDF and discovered that I had to convert my PDF settings to "High Qlty" like so
  • @Morpheus:

    I posted a screenshot to show off the difference. Same image pasted twice in a single Word document. As you can see while both images look identical in the Word document, the second image (pasted with Paste Special > Bitmap) exports much crisper.
  • Hi! when I have to do this kind of tasks I always prefer to use this method:
  • I happen to be using Publisher and I'm inserting an image with transparency (a PNG in this case). It looks great while in Publisher. But, when I print to PDF, it gets really fuzzy and pixelated at the edges.
    Do I still need to do a Paste as Special operation? If so, from what program should I copy it from? I don't think I can do that from Photoshop, can I?
  • @Mattaon:

    My guess is the instructions for Publisher are probably going to be the same as they are for Word. It shouldn't matter which program you're copying from--only the directions on pasting into Word that matter.
  • We had this problem and there were two things we did.
    1) If you are creating the PNG using Adobe Illustrator, choose the Save for Microsoft Office option to save the .AI file as a .PNG file.
    2) When you go to convert the Word file to .PDF, check that the software you are using for the conversion is set for "PRESS QUALITY" (Adobe Acrobat) or or "PRINT READY" (Nitro).
  • need to doan load
  • Deborah Montagna's Gravatar
    Deborah Montagna
    I have an issue where there are 2 workers with the same version of Word 2010 & Adobe X Pro, yet 1 person's converted pdfs look fuzzy & the other does not. the settings are the same on both computers. We both were sent the letterhead from the same source - so no one is using different images. Any ideas folks?
  • @Deborah:

    My guess is there is probably some setting (that may not be obvious) that is different. It also could be a difference in the setup of the machines (different video card drivers, etc.)

    Also, as this post states, the *method* in which you paste the image into a Word document can make a big difference. If the "Good" user sends the "Bad" user their Word document and the "Bad" user tries to export to PDF, is it fuzzy? If so, then it's something with their environment. If not, then it's something with the way they are inserting the images into Word.

    NOTE: I spend very little time in Word, and almost no time working with PDFs. I create a handful of PDFs a year. I'd really suggest going to an Adobe forum with your issue.

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