Problems Saving as PDF

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated June 20, 2022)
This tip applies to Word 2010


Louise has a system that has the Academic Professional version of Office 2010 installed. She has a problem generating a PDF file from within Word. When she goes to save a document, there are options concerning the format in which the document can be saved. When she chooses "save as PDF," she gets an error message: "Export failed due to unexpected error."

Several readers suggested that this isn't a Word problem, but instead is a problem with some Windows drivers. For them, the problem was fixed when they updated Windows as described in this Knowledge Base article:

Note that nothing in the article says anything about generating PDF files. Instead, it appears that the update takes care of modifying the drivers responsible for creating the PDF files, and this modification fixes the problem exhibited in Word.

If that doesn't work for some reason, you should try using an alternative method of creating your PDF file:

  1. Click the File tab.
  2. At the left side of the screen click Save & Send. (Don't click Save; look down further on the left side and make sure you actually click on the Save & Send option.) Word presents you with some more options.
  3. Click Create PDF/XPS Document. Word displays a single button at the right side of the dialog box.
  4. Click the Create PDF/XPS button. Word displays the Publish as PDF or XPS dialog box. This dialog box looks very similar to a traditional Open dialog box.
  5. Specify a filename you want used for your PDF file.
  6. Click on Publish.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (11430) applies to Microsoft Word 2010.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...


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What is seven more than 9?

2022-05-10 15:16:59

Bill Cohan

I created hyperlinks in my word doc that include a screen tip so that when the end user hovers over a hyperlink they see an abbreviated definition of the term. To save as a pdf, i did 'save as adobe pdf'. Everything converted fine except the screen tips, which were no longer in the doc. Is there a setting in either Word or Acrobat that will save the screen tips post conversion to pdf?

2022-05-10 14:41:39

Bill Cohan

I created hyperlinks in my word doc that include a screen tip so that when the end user hovers over a hyperlink they see an abbreviated definition of the term. To save as a pdf, i did 'save as adobe pdf'. Everything converted fine except the screen tips, which were no longer in the doc. Is there a setting in either Word or Acrobat that will save the screen tips post conversion to pdf?

2022-04-13 13:42:59


What version of Word is this for? It doesn't work for the 2017 version

2021-04-10 23:34:51

Jim Ruffing

I have been changing word documents to pdf files as described above. Suddenly, only parts of the document are saved, the pictures for example are removed now.

2020-09-15 23:51:39


I had a docx file sent to me by a business partner. It wasn't printing to PDF printer. Your advice...

"If that doesn't work for some reason, you should try using an alternative method of creating your PDF file:"

worked like a charm. Thanks for posting it.

2019-02-12 03:19:41


Word is not good at creating or reading PDF files particularly if they contain shapes or images. Third party conversion services produce much better results.

The one that I use is PDF Converter, a free on-line conversion program.

2019-02-11 07:07:37


Hey did lots of searching and found the problem.... may work for you. Very simple fix and works - my word was converting to blank PDF page.

Please check the followings to see if there is any improvement:
1. In Word, go to Word menu>Preferences>Print.
2. Make sure the Print background colors and images and Drawing objects are selected.

If the same behavior remains after trying the above, since we can't see the issue on our sides, we'd like to confirm some information to better assist you:
1. What is inside of your document? Only texts, pictures or other objects?
2. What is your file type? For example, docx, doc. Please also try creating a new docx file and add some test texts to see if you get blank PDF file.
3. Your Mac OS version build (Apple menu>About this Mac).

2018-01-15 21:37:40

Ha Tien

I got this error when using font Courier. Changing the font and everything is fine.

2017-11-24 06:51:21

Ramesh V

Hai, I want to save the excel 2003 as pdf using saveas pdf in the dropdown ribbon (like excel 2007). it should be possible because all the latest version macro running is very slow rather than office 2003 and also we have to use the dbf files for file conversion and file creation in the cobol program.

2017-11-19 11:17:04


I have a problem in saving my Words file into pdf only today. ll the while no problem.
The response is "This file is in use by another application or user".

The problem stated after I replaced my antivirus" Micosoft Essential" to Avast. I run Avast and after that this problem occurred.
I had uninstalled the Avast and reverted back to Microsoft Essential antivirus.

I reload Office repair and it does work. Any is idea how to solve this problem. Ck LIM

2017-09-11 02:51:39


1 font shows crooked in pdf file made from microsoft word 2013. I have acrobat X. Acrobat tab is unseen. Where to change pdf settings while making pdf

2017-04-22 05:11:45


I go to file and click save as the save as window opens but the pdf option is not available in the list i have have Adobe reader 10.0

2017-01-31 13:19:24


I go to save as and click on save as pdf. I choose the location and once I click on save the loading icon shows up and nothing changes and it keeps turning and turning. And when I go to the location where I chose to save the file I find nothing because it isn't being saved as a pdf file in the first place... and solutions?

2016-04-03 00:12:47


John Scheepers thanks a lot man ur comment solved my proble

2015-12-31 14:01:00


After converting pdf file to word file words cross section, for example (tablets 1ؽY Tؼ of 1ؽY AkhtbػY
C 2 0 Vbqy Svy0 bias of the)
Is there a solution to this problem? Or software to solve this problem?

2015-10-24 06:58:04

John Scheepers

I had to same problem using Word 2010 on windows 8. My document was 30 pages long and when I try save it to PDF it returned the error "Export failed due to unexpected error". then experimenting to find out which page is the problem page I would click "Save as" then from the drop down "Save as type" select PDF and before clicking "save" I clicked on Options and only saved the first page of the document then it worked and I tested all the pages until I tried to save from Pages 1 to 27 and it returned the same error. So I found on page 27 a picture I copied from another computer that had a hyperlink or a anchor symbol attached to it, but the hyperlink was unidentified. So I used paint and saved the image without the hyperlink as just a normal image and inserted it back into my document, Saved as PDF and it worked. So certain images copied from other sources could prevent a word document saving as a PDF.

2015-09-10 12:42:47


I'm working on win 7, excel 2013. I have two options; onenote, or the Microsoft pdf printer. I noticed that it depends on the file. Simple sheets get converted no problem, large multi-page files result in "printer unavailable" error. I have not found a solution for this yet..

2015-08-31 12:12:31

David Kipp

The problem with Cute PDF writer is it will not generate a table-of-contents in the left margin of the PDF- otherwise it is a great program.

2015-07-21 03:49:11


One must select/install "Disable" fix from MS kb-article.

2015-07-05 05:16:59


I had this problem.

it was solved by updating the windows.

Good luck

2015-02-04 11:12:48



Clicked the link in the article, was directed to this URL

which deals with a download for this:

MS11-087: Vulnerability in Windows kernel-mode drivers could allow remote code execution: December 13, 2011

This does not appear to be related to the topic. Is there perhaps another, updated link?

2014-12-09 09:34:50


I had this issue, closed excel and restarted. Seemed to fix it.

2012-11-28 03:45:40


I had this problem on some of my word files, but not all. What i finally figured out after some trial and error was that the documents had some text in a font that was causing the issue. In my case this was a hypen in Cambria Math font. I replaced the equivalent characters with Verdana font, and the errors went away !!

2012-03-13 19:12:16

Louise Erlick

Postscript on this subject. So today I reread the security bulletin and decided to try something. It contains a Fix It wizard solution that one can enable or disable. I thought it would do no harm to run the disable solution. The writing is so unclear throughout the bulletin that I was not sure what I was disabling. Anyway, it worked and now I can directly create PDFs from Office documents! And I can also create them using the CutePDF. The MS tech support guy could not even explain that bulletin after reading it. Thanks for all the help!

2012-03-13 11:41:55

Bill Clarke

This may or may not interest you but, Microsoft has an XP mode available for the Windows 7 enterprise, premium and ultimate version of the OS. Designed so you can run old XP programs with it and start these old programs from the Win7 task bar. You don't need to purchase the XP os, just download a couple items from the MS website and follow the training videos. I have only loaded one program with XP mode and it seems fine.

2012-03-12 18:50:29

Louise Erlick

Thanks to those who wrote additional comments. I did download CutePDF and it seems to work for Word, Excel, etc. So thanks, Bill, for clarifying how to use that. Sheryl's suggestion does not seem possible in Office 2010 (unless I don't understand it) because Adobe does not appear when you select "print."

After many obstacles, I managed to speak for free to MS tech support and the only solution that was offered was for me to uninstall and reinstall Office in hopes that my current installation was corrupted by the patch, which I now have deleted with no positive results. I don't want to go through all that. I now know that the problem stems from a conflict between the XP security update and Office 2010 (and at least some previous versions). The issue doesn't appear with Windows 7. I can't understand why MS would patch its own OS so it conflicts with its current software version and not issue another patch to solve the functionality problem. But nothing has appeared since the first security bulletin in Dec. 2011, which noted the known issues.

2012-03-12 09:43:18

Joseph Baier

An alternative is to use PDF995, which I've used for many years. This application appears to be similar to CutePDF noted earlier. To convert, you select print and choose PDF995 as your printer. Here's a link:

It's free to download, but ad driven. For a small fee you can get an ad-free version. Hope this helps.

2012-03-12 09:24:40

Bill Clarke

Let me clarify. To generate a PDF document file, not to print it, but to have it as a file on your computer using "CutePDF Writer", once installed it is found in Word 2010 under: File, Print and you select it as a "printer" even though it will generate a PDF document that you will save electronically on your computer. Hope that helps.

2012-03-12 09:15:45

Sheryl Gerstman

Have you tried saving the file as a Word document, and then clicking "Print..."? Instead of sending the file to a printer, choose Adobe PDF. Then click Print and specify a location to save the PDF. The default location is the same location where the original document was saved and the file name will be the same, but with the ".pdf" extension.

2012-03-11 17:24:13

Louise Erlick

Unfortunately, none of the solutions worked. As it turned out, I already had installed the Windows driver update in December. When I read through the security bulletin, it actually said that a known issue with the workaround was that "Office software will be unable to generate PDF files." So I uninstalled the update and restarted my PC, but the error message still happened after trying to save a Word document as a PDF. I also received the error message when I tried the "alternative method of creating a PDF file." Then I followed the link in the MS security bulletin that offered free unlimited support for home users regarding security updates. It led me to a paid MS support site. Also, the issue is not finding free programs to print documents as PDFs; as an editor, I need to be able to generate PDF versions of Word documents and save them and e-mail them to clients. I can only afford the Adobe reader program that allows reading and limited editing of PDFs. But I need to generate them from Word documents, as the Office 2010 promised but did not deliver. Does anyone have any other ideas on how to solve this issue?

2012-03-10 10:49:04

Bill Clarke

CutePDF is a freedownload that shows up as a printer in Word 2010. Select it as the printer and it will create a PDF in the location you select vert quickly.

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