How to Convert Word to PDF Files

One of the best new features in Word 2007 is the ability to convert Word to PDF or XPS.

If you own Word 2007, 2010, or 2013, you no longer need a third-party program to create professional looking PDF documents.

Converting to PDF is particularly useful for creating ebooks. You can write your book in Microsoft Word then convert it to PDF for distribution.

What is PDF?

A PDF file is basically an image of your finished Word document. This makes the format portable (usable on any system), which is what PDF stands for: Portable Document Format.

Neither PDF or XPS formats are editable unless you own special software.


There is still debate over which format is better. XPS files are often much smaller than an identical PDF file. But you must use a Windows-based computer to open an XPS file, so they are not as portable as their PDF counterparts.

Since the PDF format has been around longer and most computer users have Adobe® Acrobat Reader® installed, I will focus on that format in this tutorial.

So let’s answer that burning question, “how do I convert a Word files to PDF files?”

Converting Word to PDF

cartoon of docx file going into a converter machineThe docx to pdf conversion process is very simple; however, you may need to install an add-in before you can save as PDF or XPS.

The add-in is included in the latest Word 2007 service pack. If you have not updated Word 2007 to Service Pack 2, please see, Microsoft Word Update. You do not need a service pack or add-in if you are using Word 2010 or 2013.

If you cannot or prefer not to update to Service Pack 2, please see the Word Tip, Installing the Word to PDF Converter. The links open in a new window so you can easily find your way back here after downloading the software.

After installing the service pack or add-in software, you are ready to convert your files by following these steps:

  1. Open a Word 2007 document.
  2. Click the Office button.
  3. Select Save As.
  4. From the drop-down menu, choose PDF or XPS.
    Selecting 'Save as PDF or XPS' in Word 2007
  5. In the Publish as PDF or XPS dialogue box:
    • Select a file name
    • Select save as PDF or XPS
    • Choose whether you want the pdf file to open after publishing
    • Choose whether you want a standard file for printing, or a minimum size file for publishing online.
      Publish as PDF dialogue box
  6. Click Publish.

That’s it! You now have a PDF file that is ready for emailing, uploading to your website, or taking to the print shop.

Be sure to read the next section to get tips for publishing the best quality PDF documents.

Tips for converting Word to PDF

Here are some tips to help you produce the best documents possible when you convert Word to PDF:

  • Save as PDF from a docx file.
    In my experience, files converted from docx rather than doc format produce better looking PDF files, especially if the files contain images. If you are working in compatibility mode, save a copy in docx format and use that copy for converting to PDF.
  • Use Optimize for Standard (for publishing online and printing).
    Your readers will appreciate a higher quality document if they download and print your file, but use the Minimum setting if a smaller file size is important.
  • Click the Options Button.
    If you want to control what is published in the PDF file, click the Options button in the Publish as PDF or XPS dialogue box. In the Options dialogue box, you can choose which pages to publish, whether non-printing information (such as bookmarks) are included, and tweak other PDF options.
    Publish as PDF additional options dialog box
  • Print to PDF.
    If you have Adobe Acrobat® or Acrobat Distiller® installed on your system, you may be accustomed to converting to PDF by using the Print to PDF feature. You get the same results with either the Save as method or the Print to method. Use which one you are most comfortable with or gives the best results.You may have more control over output using the Print to method instead of the convert Word to pdf method.