How to Convert Word Documents Back to PDF

The main reason to convert Word documents back to PDF is the formatting. If you have a document that was originally created in Word, but needs to be converted back to PDF (to send it as an email attachment for example) then some of your formatting may get lost during the conversion process. It’s much easier to have all of your formatting remain intact if you simply open your file in text editor then save it as a PDF.

In this post we are going to learn how to convert a Word document (Word 97-2003) back into a Portable Document Format (PDF) so that you can view and print the file any time. The use of a PDF is good for a few different reasons. The first is as I mentioned above, your document will always look the way you created it, regardless of what kind of computer or device you have. You could have used some really nice formatting options in Microsoft Word and if you open up the same document on another device that doesn’t have the same fonts installed then they won’t be there anymore. That’s where having a PDF comes in handy because all those extra bells and whistles can be added back in even after its been converted to that format.

You can use the Office programs to save or convert your files to PDFs so that you can share them or print them using commercial printers. And you won’t need any other software or add-ins.

Use PDF format when you want a file that:

  • Looks the same on most computers.
  • Has a smaller file size.
  • Complies with an industry format.

Examples include resumes, legal documents, newsletters, files that are intended to be read (not edited) and printed, and files that are intended for professional printing.

Important: Many programs, including Microsoft Word, have the ability to open and edit PDF files. Simply sharing something as a PDF is not sufficient to guarantee the recipient can’t edit the file.WindowsmacOSWebiOS

To export or save as PDF, in your Office file, on the File menu, click Export or Save As. To see step-by-step instructions, select an Office program from the drop-down list.Which Office program are you using?

Portable Document Format (PDF)    preserves document formatting and enables file sharing. When the PDF format file is viewed online or printed, it retains the format that you intended. The PDF format is also useful for documents that will be reproduced using commercial printing methods. PDF is accepted as a valid format by many agencies and organizations, and viewers are available on a wider variety of platforms than XPS.

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XML Paper Specification (XPS)    is an electronic file format that preserves document formatting and enables file sharing. The XPS format ensures that when the file is viewed online or printed, it retains exactly the format that you intended, and that data in the file cannot be easily changed.

PDFs are handy for distributing documents so that they’re seen the same way by all parties. Typically, you’ll create documents using another app and then convert them to PDF. Here’s how to convert a Microsoft Word document to PDF.

Convert a Document to PDF Using Word

If you have the desktop version of Microsoft Word installed on your Windows PC or Mac, the easiest way to convert your document to PDF is right in Word itself.

Open the document you want to convert and then click the “File” tab.

Click the "File" tab in Microsoft Word

On the backstage screen, select “Save As” from the list on the left.

Choose "Save As" from the panel on the left side of the screen

Next, from the Save As screen, select where you would like the PDF to be saved (OneDrive, This PC, a particular folder, or wherever).

Choose where to save the converted PDF

Click the dropdown arrow on the right side of the “Save As Type” box and select “PDF (*.pdf)” from the dropdown menu.

Choose "PDF .pdf" from the drop-down menu

If you want to, you can change the filename at this time. When you’re ready, click the “Save” button.

Change the name of the file (if you wish) and then click the "Save" button

After saving the PDF, you’ll be returned to your Word document, and the new PDF will open automatically in your default PDF viewer.

If You Don’t Have Microsoft Word

If you don’t have Word, but need to convert a document someone sent you to PDF, you do have a few options:

  • Google Drive: You can upload a Word document to Google Drive, save it as a Google Document, and then convert it to PDF. This works well enough if you have a simple, mostly text Word document without much formatting (and if you already have a Google account).
  • A Conversion Website: There are a lot of sites out there that offer to convert Word documents to PDF for free. We recommend freepdfconvert.com. It’s a safe site, it works fast, and it does a pretty good job on Word documents with even a modest amount of formatting. And it really is free if you just need to convert the occasional Word document to PDF. A paid subscription gets you additional features like unlimited conversions (multiple documents at once), and the ability to convert more types of files.
  • LibreOffice: LibreOffice is a free, open-source office app that offers a lot of the same features as Microsoft Office. You can even open Microsoft Word documents, and convert them to PDF.
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Method1Using Word on Windows

  1. 1Open the Microsoft Word document. Double-click the Word document to open it in Microsoft Word.
    • If you haven’t yet created the document, open Word, then click Blank document and create the document as needed before proceeding.
  2. 2Click File. It’s in the top-left corner of the Word window. Doing so opens a pop-out window.

3Click Export. This option is in the left-hand column of options. You should see several new options appear in the middle of the window.

Click Create PDF/XPS Document. It’s in the upper-left corner of the window.

5Click Create PDF/XPS. This option is in the middle of the window. Doing so prompts a pop-up window.

6Select a save location. On the left side of the window, click the folder in which you want to store the PDF version of your Word file.

  • Since the PDF is a different file type than the Word document, you can store the PDF in the same file location as the Word file.
  • You can also enter a new file name in the “File name” text box if you like.

7Click Publish. It’s in the bottom-right corner of the window. This will create a PDF copy of your Word document in your specified location.

Method2Using Word on Mac

  1. 1Open the Microsoft Word document. Double-click the Word document to open it in Microsoft Word.
    • If you haven’t yet created the document, open Word, then click Blank Document and create the document as needed before proceeding.
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  2. 2Click File. It’s in the upper-left corner of your Mac’s screen. A drop-down menu will appear.
  3. 3Click Save As…. This option is in the drop-down menu. Doing so opens a new window.
  4. 4Enter a file name. Type whatever you want to name the PDF into the “Name” text box at the top of the window.
  5. 5Select a save location. On the left side of the window, click the folder in which you want to save your PDF.
  6. 6Click the “File Format” text box. It’s at the bottom of the window. A drop-down menu will appear.
  7. 7Click PDF. This option is in the “Export” section of the drop-down menu.
    • You may have to scroll down in the drop-down menu to see this option.
  8. 8Click Export. It’s a blue button in the bottom-right corner of the window. Doing so saves your PDF in the specified file location.

Method3Using SmallPDF

  1. 1Open SmallPDF’s Word-to-PDF website. Go to https://smallpdf.com/word-to-pdf in your computer’s web browser.
  2. 2Click Choose file. It’s in the middle of the SmallPDF page. Doing so will open either a File Explorer (Windows) or a Finder (Mac) window.
  3. 3Select your Word document. Go to your Word document’s location, then click the Word document to select it.
  4. 4Click Open. It’s in the bottom-right corner of the window. Doing so will upload the Word document to SmallPDF.
    • On a Mac, you may click Choose here instead.
  5. 5Click Download File. This option is in the lower-left side of the SmallPDF page. Your PDF will download onto your computer, though you may have to select a storage location and/or confirm the download depending on your browser’s settings.
    • It may take a few seconds for this option to appear if your Word document is large or your Internet connection is slow.
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Method4Using Google Drive

  1. 1Open Google Drive. Go to https://drive.google.com/ in your computer’s web browser. This will open your Google Drive page if you’re logged in.
    • If you aren’t logged in, click Go to Google Drive, then enter your email address and password when prompted.
  2. 2Click + New. It’s in the top-left side of the Google Drive window. A drop-down menu will appear.
  3. 3Click File upload. It’s in the drop-down menu. Doing this will open either a File Explorer (Windows) or a Finder (Mac) window.
  4. 4Select your Word document. Go to your Word document’s location, then click the Word document to select it.
  5. 5Click Open. It’s in the bottom-right corner of the window. Your Word document will upload to Google Drive.
    • On a Mac, you may click Choose here instead.
  6. 6Open the Word document. Once the Word file finishes uploading to Google Drive, double-click it in Google Drive to open it in your browser.
  7. 7Click File. It’s in the upper-left side of the window. Doing so prompts a drop-down menu.
    • On a Mac, make sure you’re clicking File in your browser window and not in the menu bar at the top of the screen.
  8. 8Select Download as. This option is in the middle of the drop-down menu. Selecting it prompts a pop-out menu.
  9. 9Click PDF document. It’s in the pop-out menu. A PDF version of the Word document will immediately download onto your computer.
    • Depending on your browser’s settings, you may have to confirm the download and/or select a save location before the file will actually download.

Conclusion

If you want to convert a Microsoft Word document back to PDF, there are several different ways you can approach the task. The key is to first save the Word file in a format that allows you to easily change it back into PDF later, then use that file as a basis for converting it back into PDF.

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