Microsoft Office Software

What’s the best way to convert Word to PDF?

Word to PDF
Convertible: find out how to switch from Word to PDF

PDF – which stands for Personal Document Format – is one of the few formats that can be read on almost any device.

If you want to send a document in a format that you can almost guarantee can be opened on PCs, Macs, tablets or mobiles, you go for PDF. So what’s the best way to convert Word to PDF?

Convert Word to PDF using Microsoft Word

If you’ve got a recent version of Microsoft Word running on one of your devices, by far the easiest way to convert Word to PDF is from within Word itself. 

Simply open the Word document that you wish to convert, choose File then Save As… and select PDF from the dropdown menu of file formats that appears below the filename (as pictured below).

Word to PDF

Modern versions of Word do a pretty good job of retaining all the formatting of your documents when converting to PDF. You might get the odd misplaced image, wonky caption or piece of misaligned text on heavily formatted documents, but it’s much better than it used to be. 

Convert Word to PDF using Adobe Acrobat

Adobe Acrobat Pro is a hugely underrated and powerful piece of software. If you spend a lot of time filling out PDF forms or otherwise handling PDF documents, I highly recommend it. 

If you do own Acrobat Pro (as opposed to the free version, Adobe Acrobat Reader), converting Word documents to PDF is a cinch. There are two ways to do this.

The first is from within Acrobat itself. Open the software and then click on the Tools tab in the main window. Now click on Open under Create PDF, the option that should appear in the top-left of the main window (as pictured below).

Adobe Acrobat

On the next screen, click Select a File, find your Word document and click Create. Acrobat should do its magic and present you with a PDF, which you now need to save in the destination of your choice.

Alternatively, if you own both Microsoft Word and Adobe Acrobat Pro, Acrobat should have installed its own tab within Microsoft Word, as pictured below.

Acrobat pane in Word

If you’ve got your document open in Word, you can simply click on the Acrobat tab and click Create PDF to convert your current document into the PDF format. 

As you can see, there are various other more advanced tools you can take advantage of too, including sending the document out for review and masking any sensitive information.

Convert Word to PDF using an online tool

If you don’t have Word or Acrobat installed on your computer and need to convert Word to PDF, there are plenty of online tools that can do a quick and dirty conversion for you.

These tend to be more unreliable than Word/Acrobat conversions, especially if you have a heavily formatted document. But for basic documents, it should be fine.

Smallpdf’s online converter is an efficient, fuss-free tool that doesn’t do anything silly, like embedding adverts in your docs, which we’ve seen from other free converters. It does have a limit of two jobs per hour, so it’s no good for huge batches of docs, but it’s fine if you just need the odd document converted. You can subscribe if you want unlimited access. 

As we mentioned above, formatting can go slightly wonky. We asked it to convert the Word document below, which has formatted tables, graphics and the odd fancy font. 

Word to PDF

Smallpdf did a fairly accurate job of the conversion (see the image below), although you’ll notice the showy font on “YOUR FREE E-PROGRAMME” at the bottom has been lost, and the text has been printed as mixed case – perhaps because the original was typed that way, but it still doesn’t look very professional.

Word to PDF

Both Word and Acrobat converted the original font without problem, so if maximum accuracy is critical, use one of those two tools.

Now read this: How do I convert a PDF to a Word document on Mac? 

About the author

Barry Collins

Barry has scribbled about tech for almost 20 years for The Sunday Times, PC Pro, WebUser, Which? and many others. He was once Deputy Editor of Mail Online and remains in therapy to this day. Email Barry at barry@bigtechquestion.com.

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