Common PDF Problems: Quality of Graphics

30 Jun

Another common problem that occurs when creating a PDF file is that graphics lose quality.

In the original document used to create your book, your graphics may look like this:

But when you convert the file to a PDF, the graphic may end up like this:

Depending on which program you’re using to create your book, the settings to avoid losing quality vary.

However, as long as your image was high quality to begin with, you’ll be able to create a PDF without losing any quality–it may just take some experimenting to get the options right.

A good rule of thumb when saving as a PDF is to check every “options” or “properties” window that appears when saving to make sure nothing is compressing the file. (“Print” quality is always better than “Web” quality and a larger file is usually better than a smaller file!)

Here are some specific examples.

For Microsoft Word…

…when you’re ready to convert to PDF, be sure to check all of the options or preferences. They may not be exactly the same as the example shown here, but they should be similar.

In the properties window, check if there are any sections referring to images, graphics, or resolution.

Then, change the resolution to 600 dpi.

If you’re saving to PDF from Microsoft Word, you may also see the option here:

You may need to select “Optimize for Standard Printing and Publishing” and make sure that “Minimum size” is NOT selected.

For Adobe Programs….

…be sure to export your file as a PDF. After choosing a location on your computer to save the file, you should get a preferences screen that looks like this:

Under the “Compression” options, make sure all elements are set to “Do not downsample” and “Maximum” quality.

For Open Office files…

…choose “export as PDF” and then change the resolution to 600, and make sure to choose “lossless compression” or JPEG quality “100%”


…these settings will only help you from LOSING image quality–they can’t give you quality that wasn’t there to begin with. So, if your image looks like this:

in your ORIGINAL document, changing these settings won’t fix the issue. You’ll need to find an image that is high resolution to begin with. You can read more about that here.

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