Help! Convert my docx to pdf!
July 6, 2007 3:15 PM   Subscribe

Is there anyone out there who can convert a .docx file into a PDF for me within the next few hours?

I am trying to help my mother submit some coursework that was created in Word 2007, but they are unable to open it with an earlier version.

Saving it as a 2003 .doc file loses a lot of the formatting and becomes unreadable in a lot of places.

The deadline is looming and I'm running out of ideas. Can anyone help? Email is in my profile.
posted by lemonfridge to Computers & Internet (24 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
PDF995 lets you create PDF documents for free, from any application.
posted by Aloysius Bear at 3:19 PM on July 6, 2007

Er, meant to link to
posted by Aloysius Bear at 3:20 PM on July 6, 2007

A .docx file is a .zip file. I shit you not.

Just rename the file to .zip and unzip it to get your .doc file.

Or use this site to do it for you.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 3:27 PM on July 6, 2007 [1 favorite]

If you download this Office compatibility pack from Microsoft, it will allow you to read .docx files normally with legacy versions of MS Word. This will not turn it into a PDF, but I think it might solve your problem.
posted by camcgee at 3:29 PM on July 6, 2007

I'll be happy to try it if you e-mail it to me. (Email in profile)
posted by The Deej at 3:34 PM on July 6, 2007

Hey lemonfridge... my internet is flakey alla sudden! I can't get to some sites, including my mail account. Although MeFi works. I got your email but can't download the file yet. I'll give it a shot as soon as I can, but if you see this first, you can go to or the Blazecock's link and convert it to a normal .doc.

For future reference, you probably want to avoid the docx format, since it seriously hinders compatibility. That might change in the future.

Anyway, I'll send the PDF along as soon as my connection comes back.
posted by The Deej at 3:57 PM on July 6, 2007

Not that it helps now, but this will only get worse with time. Think long and hard about how you want to keep your data and whether open formats are useful.

Imagine if the US Declaration of Independence were written in Word1776. How are you going to read your documents in 15 years? Even if you have the bits, you'll have nothing that understands them if it's not an open standard.
posted by cmiller at 3:58 PM on July 6, 2007

You could also download PrimoPDF for free. Installs itself as a printer. I use it all the time.
posted by neilbert at 3:59 PM on July 6, 2007

If you have Word 2007, just download the Save as PDF add-in.
posted by Merdryn at 4:00 PM on July 6, 2007 [1 favorite]

Incidentally, that was the first Google result for "word 2007 pdf". (I already knew about the app, as I'm an avid user of the product, but there you go.)
posted by Merdryn at 4:02 PM on July 6, 2007

You should post the file on an Ftp site and let everybody have a shot.
posted by Megafly at 4:10 PM on July 6, 2007

I can do it for you asap. email in profile.
posted by special-k at 4:29 PM on July 6, 2007

.docx is an ECMA standard now, for what it's worth.

It is not a zipped .doc file. It's a zip file, but the stuff that's in it is not in any format that knowing it's a zip file will magically allow you to use. It's all XML except for any graphics.
posted by kindall at 4:35 PM on July 6, 2007

"docx" is better than "doc", but still isn't open enough. It has attributes like "Do This Like Word 97 does" and refers to opaque blob formats. It's a Word 2007 memory dump with angle brackets around it. MSFT doesn't want it to be implementable by other people and it's designed with that goal foremost.

And PDF is better, but is too much of a presentation description. Editing a PDF to insert a paragraph doesn't work very well.

So, something more useful and potentially ubiquitous is what I suggest you look for.
posted by cmiller at 4:47 PM on July 6, 2007

Have you tried using OpenOffice? It's free, allows you to export documents as pdfs, and it looks like it can open docx files with this plug-in.
posted by needs more cowbell at 4:52 PM on July 6, 2007

OK a pdf and a doc are on their way...
posted by The Deej at 5:14 PM on July 6, 2007

PDFCreator can also create PDFs from any application.
posted by lunchbox at 7:33 PM on July 6, 2007

So can CutePDF.
posted by flabdablet at 7:38 PM on July 6, 2007

Just to repeat what Merdryn's apparently said to no avail above, Office 2007 can create PDFs on its own and there are tools for opening .docx files in Office 2003. The download for Office 2007 is linked above.
posted by anildash at 8:15 PM on July 6, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks for everyones help and kind attempts at converting the file. Unfortunately there were still lots of formatting problems (whole chunks of text becoming invisible).

Luckily they have agreed to accept a prinrted copy via post.

Thank you again for all your help, and sorry that it was all in vain!
posted by lemonfridge at 1:49 AM on July 7, 2007

Zamzar is awesome for this
posted by wile e at 4:46 AM on July 7, 2007

Just to repeat what anildash has said, you don't need any of that third party stuff to make this work. Microsoft has the add-in designed for Office 2007 (it used to be included, but Adobe made them rip it out and put it up for download separately).

It works 100% of the time on very complex documents (I'm a rather advanced Word 2007 user myself). No issues or flaws, it just works, and doesn't use any of that printer-driver-intermediary nonsense like every other solution in the world. It's native to Office. Go get it. Ignore the other downloads if all you need is to convert Office 2007 documents to PDF.

In fact, the download doesn't allow you to convert to PDF. It allows you to SAVE AS PDF. That's an important distinction. There's no conversion going on, it's a native save to a native format.

Sorry to go on about this, but sheesh, all this nonsense about third party products is really overengineering the situation here.
posted by Merdryn at 7:53 AM on July 7, 2007 [1 favorite]

And cmiller is wrong. The OOXML format used by Word 2007 is incredibly easy to interact with programmatically. In fact, the .NET framework has a namespace built in for it: system.packaging.

Being able to run an XSLT transformation on a Word 2007 document to create a PowerPoint 2007 slide deck from it is pretty damn slick in my opinion.
posted by Merdryn at 7:56 AM on July 7, 2007

For the sake of completeness, I'll throw this in:
I have MS Office: Mac, a version from about 5 years ago.

I took the OPs .docx document and converted it to .doc with Zamzar. Then, I used the Mac's built-in PDF creator to make a PDF as well.

I'm not sure what formatting issues the OP is talking about. The .doc looked fine except for 2 minor things, which may have been introduced in the original file: The left/right margins were uneven, but this can surely be solved very easily by changing them in the page setup dialog, or just dragging them in the ruler. Also, 2 pages at the end were in landscape format. On these pages, there seemed to be no right margin; the table row lines went right to the edge, although all the text was fine.

The PDF created through OS X was formatted exactly like the .doc, with one exception (which I didn't notice until later): the PDF was missing the last 2 pages; the ones that were landscape formatted.

In any event, I do recommend Zamzar for converting .docx to .doc. And OS X's built-in PDF creator has been amazingly accurate. I use it all the time, even to create files I send to commercial printers. The mystery of the missing landscape pages is something I'll have to look into.
posted by The Deej at 8:21 AM on July 7, 2007

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