How to Convert a Word Document to PDF

Prevent unwanted changes and protect your content

Typing on a laptop

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You've created a beautiful Word document and you're ready to share it with the world. You e-mail or upload your perfect file...then someone else opens it in a different version of Word, or a different program entirely, and the whole thing breaks.

Don't let that happen to you!

Instead, here's how to convert a Word document to PDF and preserve your content across uploads, downloads, and anything else that comes your way.

The instructions in this article apply to Microsoft Word 2019, 2016, 2013, and Office 365; as well as to Microsoft Word on Mac.

Export a Word Document as a PDF on Windows

If you're using Microsoft Word with Windows there here's how to convert your document to a PDF within Word.

  1. Open the Word document that you want to convert and make sure you're done editing it before you convert to PDF.

  2. At the top left click File.

    The location of the File option on the MS Word Ribbon.
  3. In the File menu that opens, select Export.

    The location of the Export option in Microsoft Word.

    Adobe users will have additional options for converting a Word doc to PDF, including an Adobe Acrobat box on the far right of the Home Ribbon. Any of the Adobe-labeled Create a PDF buttons throughout this process are great ways to streamline and convert your Word doc to a PDF.

  4. Click Create PDF/XPS Document.

    The Create PDF/XPS Document option in Microsoft Word.
  5. The next menu will illustrate the benefits of a PDF. Click the button to Create PDF/XPS Document.

    How to Create a PDF/XPS document in MS Word.
  6. On the next screen name and choose a location for your new PDF file. Once you've made those selections, click Publish.

Adobe users may see extra options in the Word menus for converting/saving PDF files. Those options all work too, but these steps well get both Adobe and non-Adobe users to a final PDF.

A quick way to save a Word document as a PDF file is through the Save As menu. When you choose Save As, in the dialog that appears, give you document a name, and then use the Save as type drop down menu to choose PDF. You should get the same results.

Convert a Word Document to PDF on a Mac

  1. Open the Word document you want to convert, being sure it's finished and ready for publication.

  2. Select File > Save As.

  3. In the new window, name your file, select the destination to save to, then use the drop down menu at File Format to select PDF. Notice that instead of a Save button you finish by clicking Export.

Benefits of saving a Word document to a PDF

As mentioned, there are multiple benefits to converting a Word document to a PDF before sharing it with others. They include:

  • Preserving the integrity of your formatting. This is particularly important if you're using things like unique fonts or art.
  • Protecting your content. Editing a PDF is possible, but much harder than editing a Word document. Sharing a PDF means you have a higher probability of your content staying just the way you want it.
  • Preventing irregularities. If you're uploading a document and someone is downloading it on the other side then you want to make sure that the upload/download process doesn't break your document. This is particularly important for things like resumes and cover letters.