I had to solve this one for my boss today, and thought I would make a quick post with the solution I found.
The Image Quality Problem
In our line of work, when we want to include a PDF in a Word document, 9 out of 10 times it is a diagram or a graph. Word does not take kindly to this (I’m using Word 2010, Your Mileage May Vary). The image quality of an imported PDF document is greatly reduced when inside a word document.
The solution I found is to print the PDF diagram to a PNG image, using the Bullzip PDF Printer, and then to insert the PNG image in the Word document. I’ll use a series of screen shots to illustrate the problem and the solution.
Below is a screenshot of the original PDF diagram. Isn’t it lovely?
Inserting the PDF directly
There are two ways of directly inserting this PDF in a Word Document. One is to simply drag and drop the PDF file onto Word, the other is to use Insert – Object. Whichever way you choose, the result has really low quality:
(In case you’re wondering, I took the above screenshot after printing the Word document to PDF, so that is the actual output quality.)
Converting the PDF to PNG before inserting it
If we first print the PDF to PNG and then import it to Word, the result looks like this:
How to do it
First of all, download and install Bullzip PDF Printer from here. It’s excellent, and it’s free! After installation, it will show up as a printer on your machine.
Next, open the original PDF diagram in Acrobat Reader, and go to File – Print. On the Print dialog, set the Printer to Bullzip PDF Printer. Also set the Size Options as shown below, to avoid ending up with lots of white space around your diagram:
After hitting Print, the Bullzip PDF Printer – Create File dialog will pop up. Here the important thing to change is the Format, which we set to PNG:
You can also set the output File Name. After hitting Save, you are left with a *.PNG file at the location of your choosing. You can now simply drag and drop this image onto Word to have much higher image quality than the PDF would have given you. There you go!
The way it should be
All of this back of forth between Python (which I used to generate the plot), Acrobat Reader, Bullzip and Word makes me miss them good-ol’-days, when I was working on my thesis.
Back then, working on a Linux machine, I had Python generate plots and export them to *.eps (Encapsulated PostScript) files, which could be linked directly into my LaTeX document for perfect output to a *.ps or *.pdf document. The greatest advantage of that approach is that updates to the plot can be pushed all the way to your final document by running a single script, with no manual PNG printing, changing of settings, or dragging and dropping. That really is the way it should be, especially when working with plots and diagrams that depend on data, which might change at the last minute.