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4 Ways to Convert a Microsoft Word Document to PDF

Melanie has a BS in physical science and is in grad school for analytics and modeling. She also runs a YouTube channel: The Curious Coder.


Why convert to PDF?

There are numerous reasons why you might want your Word document to be a pdf file. There are often incompatibilities between versions of Microsoft Word that can mess up your careful formatting. In addition, not everyone has Microsoft Word, but nearly everyone has access to viewing a pdf.

PDFs are an industry standard, so how a pdf looks on one computer will change very little from how it looks on another computer. This makes PDFs great for carefully laid out documents such as resumes and design specifications.

These are just some of the many reasons you might want a PDF file instead of a Word document. Rest assured, converting a Word doc to a PDF is super easy!

There are two ways to do this:
If you have access to Microsoft word, follow the instructions marked, "If you have Microsoft Word..."

If you don't have access to this software or if the file is not compatible with your version of Word, you'll want to skip down to the third method.

Method 1: If you have Microsoft Word...

If you have Microsoft Word, converting a Word document to pdf is simple! This can be achieved by using Word to open the document you're wanting to convert. First, check over your document to make sure the formatting is how you want it to be.

Step 1: Click "File" in the upper left-hand corner.
Step 2: Navigate to the "Save as" button and click it.
Step 3: Select the directory you would like to save to.
Step 4: Under the file name, select the file type dropdown box. The default should be something like Word Document (*.docx).
Step 5: In the dropdown menu, select PDF (*.pdf) and hit save.

After completing these steps, you will find a pdf version of your Word Document saved in the directory you selected.

Method 2: If you have Microsoft Word

If the first method doesn't work, this is another way you can try to turn a Word doc into a pdf. Instead of saving as a pdf, in this method, we will be printing to a pdf. Don't worry, this doesn't actually print anything out of your printer!

Step 1: Click "File" in the upper left-hand corner.
Step 2: Select "Print."
Step 3: In the box that pops up, select your printer in order to access the Printer dropdown menu.
Step 4: In the dropdown menu, select "Microsoft Print to PDF."
Step 5: In the box that pops up, select the directory you would like your document to print to, name your file, and click save.

Voila! You've just printed your file to a PDF. Go to the directory you've printed to and you'll find your file waiting there for you!

Method 3: Google Documents

This method takes advantage of Google Documents to convert your file. This method may not preserve your formatting, but it will work in a pinch and is super secure!

Step 1: While logged into your Google account, navigate to https://docs.google.com/document/

Step 2: In the middle of the page, on the right-hand side, select the folder. (The hover text on the folder will say "Open file picker."

Step 3: In the box that pops up, click the button that says "select a file from your device."

Step 4: Fix any formatting and font issues that may occur from the .doc being incompatible with Google Docs so that your file appears how you want it to.

Step 5: Navigate to the directory where your Word file is saved, select it, and click open. Your Word file will then open in Google Docs.

Step 6: In the upper left-hand corner, select File. Then select Download. Finally, select PDF Document (.pdf)

After you complete the above steps, a .pdf version of your Google Docs file will be saved to your computer.

Method 4: File Conversion Websites

If you do not have Microsoft Word or do not have a version that is compatible with the file that you're working with, this method will get the job done.

This method takes advantage of websites that convert Word docs to PDF, so do keep your own privacy in mind. For example, if you're converting a business contract, you may want to avoid this method as you cannot guarantee what a website will do with your file. If it's a school paper, you should be fine.

To find a website that will do this for you, do a quick Google search for "convert doc to pdf free" and you should quickly find an option that will work for you.

© 2020 Melanie Shebel


Bhattuc on September 01, 2020:

Useful article. Thanks.

Victoria Greywing from Limassol, Cyprus on August 06, 2020:

Nice piece of content! Frankly speaking, when I need to convert a lot of doc files (I have to do it regularly to work), I prefer to use the last method, because it is faster than opening each document and changing its format by myself :)

Fortunately, there are a lot of online services now and I do not need to pay. I have recently started using PDFChef and it has everything I need for free. But yes, as you said, for some important or private documents it is better to use desktop software (a trial version if you do not want to buy it).

Patrick Kamau from Nairobi, Kenya on June 01, 2020:

Very good information on how to to turn a word document into a PDF. I am used these methods and they work well. Thanks for sharing.

Louise Powles from Norfolk, England on May 31, 2020:

Thanks for showing me how to do this. It's very useful to know.

Liz Westwood from UK on May 31, 2020:

This is a very useful article and one worth saving for future reference. I had trouble this week converting photos from the hiec format to jpeg.