PDF = Pretty Damn Funky
August 28, 2008 7:25 PM   Subscribe

How can I convert a Word document to a pdf while keeping the margins the same width? We are working on a 5 MB Word document, created with Word 2003 on a PC running Windows XP. The margins must be 1 inch wide. When we convert it to pdf, the right hand margin becomes 1.25 inches wide, and random phrases become boldface. We've tried Acrobat 8 and a freeware converter (dopdf).
posted by lukemeister to Computers & Internet (16 answers total)
I use a freeware program called PDFCreator. I print to the application and as far as I can tell it stays true to the original.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 7:30 PM on August 28, 2008

I use CutePDF Writer, which shows up in your list of printers and lets you print a document directly to a PDF file. You might have better luck with this approach than you have had with converters.
posted by ootsocsid at 7:33 PM on August 28, 2008

Thanks. I shouldn't have said 'converter'. dopdf prints directly to a pdf file.
posted by lukemeister at 7:43 PM on August 28, 2008

Oddly, the best PDF conversions I've had luck with come from Open Office. If you open your Word doc in Open Office and then choose File > Export as PDF, you should get a very accurate PDF. Since Open Office is free, this all makes me very happy.
posted by DarlingBri at 7:49 PM on August 28, 2008 [1 favorite]

Seconding OpenOffice.
posted by number9dream at 8:06 PM on August 28, 2008

Unfortunately, the document has a few artifacts in OpenOffice too (although I never tried converting it to pdf within OO). It's been revised some many times by so many people that there are probably lots of skeletons hiding in its closets.
posted by lukemeister at 8:09 PM on August 28, 2008

If the problems recur in specific sections of the document, it could help to cut and paste those portions into notepad, then cut and paste from notepad back to the document. If you don't have a lot of formatting to replace, this will clean out any "skeletons" from the multiple revisions.
posted by prefpara at 8:31 PM on August 28, 2008

Nuance PDF Converter Pro is marketed primarily for converting PDFs to Word, Excel or other formats but it has worked very well for me in converting Word docs to PDF. Reviews can be found here.
posted by X4ster at 8:31 PM on August 28, 2008

I've used Bullzip for quite a while and it's simple to use.
posted by mcarthey at 9:17 PM on August 28, 2008

We use PDF Creator in a busy production house. We've evaluated all of them over time- PDF Creator is by far the best.
posted by mattoxic at 10:03 PM on August 28, 2008

Might as well try Zamzar.com. It's free and quick. Who knows whether it'll work any better. You upload a file, they convert, they email.
posted by Askr at 10:52 PM on August 28, 2008

Seconding prefpara -- unless you have a lot of detailed formatting it would probably help to save a copy of the document as a text file and then save it back to Word. That will get rid of all the fancy formatting artefacts and leave just the text, and I'd be very surprised if that didn't convert properly.

Are the artefacts visible in Print Preview? If so they're included in the document and Word is not displaying them for some reason of its own.
posted by katrielalex at 2:53 AM on August 29, 2008

katrielalex reminded me: there are two things you can do to try to solve the problem from within Word:

1. Make sure that you have accepted all changes.
2. Click that little button that has a paragraph symbol and show all formatting (you can also turn this on in options). Scroll to the broken parts of the document and see if the funkiness appears for you to click and delete.
posted by prefpara at 5:18 AM on August 29, 2008

Another thing to attempt if all the above doesn't work: find somebody with office on the mac. Printing to pdf is built in on Mac OS, so you may get that little bit of extra control over the output that would give you what you want.
posted by DreamerFi at 5:51 AM on August 29, 2008

Seconding prefpara's recommendations about accepting all changes and looking at all formatting.

The other thing to try is to print the document on a printer and see what happens? Does it print normally, or do you see the same artifacts when you print? That will give you a clue about whether it's a PDF specific issue or Word document issue in general.

One more thing. There is two ways to print using Adobe Acrobat. You can use the "Adobe PDF" menu or the shortcut button, which is a custom macro that processes all links, bookmarks, etc. You can also use the generic PDF printer driver Adobe Acrobat installs by simply going to the Print dialog box and choosing the printer. I usually have better luck with the latter method than the former, in case you didn't try both methods.
posted by tuxster at 7:30 AM on August 29, 2008

Someone in the office had novaPDF and that seemed to fix 99% of the problems. Thanks, everyone!
posted by lukemeister at 1:54 PM on August 29, 2008

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