PDF & Microsoft Office

There are two types of PDF files – raster PDF and vector PDF. If your drawing will not convert, it is probably a scanned drawing saved as a raster PDF file. Unfortunately, there is no useful data in a raster PDF file for us to extract about the objects or text. When a drawing is scanned, it is reduced to a flat image, comparable to a snapshot or a photocopy. There’s nothing you can do except trace over it manually or with tracing software (raster-to-vector software). One way or another, you need to recreate it.

Our software is designed to convert vector PDF files. These files are created on computers using save, export, print-to-file, etc. These vector PDF files contain a rich data set and all the information we need to accurately extract the drawing and render it in a format Visio or AutoCAD, etc can digest.

For comparison sake, below is a snip of a raster PDF file at 500% where the characteristic “jagginess” or pixelation of raster PDF files can easily be seen. Below it is a snip of a vector PDF file which is remarkably smooth and clear even though it has also been zoomed to 500%. This visual method is a very easy and accurate way to determine if your PDF file is a raster or vector. Most people get both types of files so pdf2cad or pdf2picture may be useful for some of your files.

A raster PDF (scanned drawing) – jagged and grainy at 500% – you need raster-to-vector software to trace or recreate this or you’ll need to manually redraw it.

A sample vector PDF file at 500% – notice how smooth the lines are and how clear the text is. This type of file is best converted with vector-to-vector software like pdf2cad and pdf2picture.

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Open and Ungroup PDF files in Visio

To edit PDF drawings in Visio, you can choose between Insert PDF, a handy Visio add-in, or one of our desktop programs, pdf2picture or PDF FLY. The desktop apps will give you more advanced control over conversion options while Insert PDF will quickly open the PDF file, ready to edit, right on a Visio page.

Both pdf2picture and PDF FLY can create files that Visio can import using the native Windows vector graphic format (WMF). It’s also possible for Visio to open DXF  and SVG files generated by Visual Integrity’s programs although we find that WMF yields the best results in most instances.

Steps for using PDF in Visio.

Perform the following steps for using PDF in Visio. Screenshots are based on pdf2picture. Skip Step 1 if using the Insert PDF add-in.

1.    Open the file using one of the methods below:

  • Choose Open, File and then select File Type:  Windows Metafile from the drop-down menu. It’s the last choice at the bottom of the “File Types” drop-down. Once you see your file on-screen, you are ready to move to Step #2.
  • Alternatively, if you want to import the file into an existing document or presentation, open that file and select Insert Picture…., From File and choose the file from your hard drive or network file system

2.    You should now see the converted drawing on your screen. Important! The drawing is imported as one grouped object and needs to be ungrouped if you wish to edit, remove or add parts of the drawing. To Ungroup your drawing, right-click and select Grouping, Ungroup.

3.    When ungrouped, Visio will highlight every individual object in pink. In order to deselect everything, you need to click anywhere on the page outside of the drawing boundaries.

4.    Once the drawing is ungrouped and the objects are deselected, you may select whatever you want to change and it will appear with editing handles.

Tips for using PDF in Visio

TIP! If you want to scale the drawing, make sure you “regroup” it by selecting Grouping, Group so that everything is scaled proportionately.

Contact Us if you have problems. The best way to get help is to send the file you are having trouble with along with any comments to We’re happy to help!

Download Tip Sheet: Using pdf2picture output (WMF) in Visio)

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SVG in Visio is a versatile format for print and Web

Now, you can easily use SVG in Visio and other ps applications. Scalable Vector Graphics, the W3C and HTML5 standard (SVG) is one of the vector output formats in pdf2picture. Just select the PDF files you want to convert and choose SVG as the output format. The resulting file can be opened directly giving you an easy and accurate way to use SVG in Visio.

Using SVG in Visio is a perfect way to unlock PDF content.With the move to HTML5 applications, more and more programs are integrating internal SVG suppport. Visio is one of them. Now, you can convert any PDF file into SVG and open it in Visio in just a few steps which are outlined below. We are finding it to be a better choice that WMF for fonts support and text placement. Here’s how you do it:

The key steps:

1.    Use pdf2picture to convert your PDF file to SVG

2.   To open in Visio, choose Scalable Vector Graphics

3.    Once in Visio, right click on the drawing and Ungroup (ignore any errors Visio may present). You may need to delete an exterior container and right click to ungroup again.

5.    When fully ungrouped, you should see pink. Click anywhere outside the margins of the drawing and this will deselect all objects.


6.    You are now ready to select and edit whatever you want, including the text.






Products for using PDF in Visio

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Imported drawings begin as grouped objects in Visio

When using a PDF file in Visio, it will initially be one grouped object. In order to explode all of the individual, editable objects, you must right click on it and choose “Group, Ungroup” to unlock the contents. This may take a while if your file contains a very detailed drawing. In some cases, Visio will hit a practical limit and may stop responding. This is likely if the drawing has more then 200,000 objects. Stick with it, and it will eventually finish digesting the file. You’ll be presented with a drawing where every object is separate and highlighted in pink. In order to edit one object, you need to deselect everything by clicking somewhere outside the boundaries of the drawing and then select just the object you want to edit. It’s a good idea to immediately delete any sections of the drawing that you do not need as speed will improve as the number of object calculations decreases.

Products for using PDF in Visio

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If you want to edit the graphics in a PDF file in Microsoft Office or Visio, you’ll want to try pdf2picture. It operates in both vector and image mode and you can choose which is most appropriate at the time of conversion. Vector mode explodes the file into editable text and objects while image mode makes a high-fidelity copy of the file in an MS Office friendly format.

pdf2image is also available as a low cost option when you just need to use raster image formats. It is ideal for those who work on websites or printed publications like newsletters, brochures and customer bulletins.

To use the graphics produced by either pdf2image or pdf2picture in MS Office, you use Insert > Picture > From File… to add  the converted graphics into your document. If you used vector mode (Windows Metafile WMF/EMF), you can now edit text and graphic elements using the Office drawing tools.

Note: Neither pdf2image or pdf2picture are for converting Word documents or reports heavy in text.

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The software has been designed to be very easy to use and involves just a few simple steps:

  1. Select the PDF file you want to convert
  2. Change or customize settings by clicking on the Options button
  3. Change the name and location of the output file, if desired
  4. Convert!

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Normally yes, especially if you plan to edit the converted file. When converting to the scalable, vector formats WMF or EMF, you will need to ungroup the file before editing. We’ve made a tip sheet for each application Please download the ones that are of interest to you:

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pdf2picture converts PDF files into bitmap images as well as WMF, the native vector graphics format for Microsoft Windows. All of the Microsoft Office applications, including PowerPoint and Visio allow import of a variety of graphic types using “Insert, Picture from File”. Depending on the jb, you’ll want to convert using either vector or image mode:

Vector Mode– If you want to edit text or modify the graphic, you’ll want to choose a vector format – either WMF or EMF. Once you have your scalable file, follow the instructions to insert it onto a slide as editable objects. If you notice any problems with the appearance of your text, please see our font troubleshooting tips for how to map them. The fonts defined in the original file may not be on the target system or have a slightly different name.

Image Mode – If you want a true replica of the original file and do not have a need to modify the information, then choose image mode (PNG, GIF, JPEG). It will create a smaller file with high-fidelity.

In pdf2picture, WMF or EMF should be chosen if any of the following are of primary importance:

  • scalability
  • editability
  • ability to magnify with losing sharpness

In the following case, image mode should be chosen when:

  • No further editing is required
  • Image will not be scaled up in size
  • An absolutely identical match is required
  • to lock or protect the information from editing or copying

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Solution: pdf2picture

Send us a test PDF file to convert for Visio (Free)

It is definitely possible to edit PDF files in Visio! It involves just a few simple steps:

  1. Convert the PDF file to WMF, EMF or SVG (see which format produces the best results for your file) using pdf2picture. WMF and EMF are the native vector graphic formats for Microsoft applications. SVG is supported by Visio and is the standard vector graphic format for web-sites.
  2. Open the converted file in Visio. You can do this by “right-clicking” on the file and choosing “Open with Microsoft Visio” or by selecting “Open, File” (choose the correct file type, for example, Windows Metafile (WMF). > details (PDF)
  3. Adjust your drawing. You should see your file on the screen now. Adjust your paper size and orientation if necessary. Ungroup the Drawing. Select “Shape, Grouping, Ungroup…” to explode the drawing into individual editable objects and you are ready to make any changes that you want.
  4. Save as Visio Drawing. That’s it. Once you save the drawing, it is now in the native .vsd format and ready to share with your colleagues if necessary

A Few Words of Caution

  • Is your drawing scanned? Before converting, make sure that your PDF file in not a scanned image. If it is, it can not be edited at the object level using this approach. To see if your file can be converted or not, open it in Adobe Acrobat and magnify it to 1000%. If the lines look smooth, you’ll have success. If the lines look jagged or boxy, it is scanned and you will need to use a different approach. > more on how to determine what type of PDF file you have.
  • Text as curves. Sometimes, when drawings are originally authored in CAD systems, the text is “plotted” when it is saved to PDF. This means that the text is converted to a series of pen strokes or “curves” and the character information is lost. In this case, you will not be able to edit the text but you will have a graphical representation of it that you can use or replace in context. If you just find that the font does not match the original file, you may need to use the font mapping feature during conversion.
  • Objects or shapes? When the drawing is saved to PDF, all information about pre-defined shapes is lost. When opened in Visio, an octagon is eight lines which can be grouped or ungrouped.
  • Mind your Memory. Because of the large number of objects in many Visio drawings generated from PDF files, you’ll need a bit of power on your desktop.  Every file is different so it’s hard for us to make general recommendations. If you find that the file is opening slowly or takes a while to refresh, you’ll need more memory. It’s not unusual for a converted PDF file to be comprised of more than 50,000 individual objects. This may sound intimidating but pdf2picture makes quick work of it!
  • Ask for Advice. If you try to convert a PDF but are not getting the results you expect, ask us to troubleshoot it for you. It’s free and we are happy to help you achieve optimal results. Just send your PDF file tous along with a brief description and your contact info. The most complete requests are handled first.

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If you do not need to edit the text, you can create a perfect vector object for each character. You can choose this by checking the “Convert Characters to Curves” option in the General tab of the Options menu. Every character will then be rendered with curves as a graphical representation of the character using the font information stored in the PDF. If a font was not embedded in the PDF, pdf2picture will refer to the /fonts/ directory in the pdf2picture installation folder. You can add Type 1 or TrueType font to this folder as needed to ensure a perfect match. To outline only specific fonts during conversion, email for instructions.

If you do not need to edit the file at all, another option is to use the bitmap mode in pdf2picture or use pdf2image which creates a high-quality image of the file in four popular web and publishing formats..

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After conversion, if you can not edit text, chances are that the text was already stored as graphics in the PDF original. It was probably converted to curves or plotted as pen strokes when the PDF file was created. It is no longer text, just vector curves that look like text. This often happens for example with PDF drawings are created from CAD, EDA or GIS applications as well as with print advertisements from a DTP-package to ensure font display accurately. Text is often converted to curves to ensure accurate print results and to protect against font incompatibilities. Once the text has been turned into curves, there is no way for pdf2picture to retrieve it as real text. If the text is still searchable in the PDF file, we can produce it as editable text in the conversion output.

Tip: To see if the text is searchable and convertable or not, open your PDF file in Acrobat Reader and try to “Select” some text. If you can mark it, you can convert it.

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If the characters are converting but not displaying properly, you likely have a font mapping issue. To comply with the licensing regulations of font suppliers, our software can not embed fonts in the vector output formats. Instead, we reference the fonts by their names. If the fonts, with the same names, are on the target PC, the file will open and display perfectly. If the same fonts are not on the PC that opens the file, which is much more likely, the text will not display properly. To complicate things, often, one font may go by several different names. Arial Bold, for example, may be referenced as “EHJPKB+Arial-Bold” in the original file. This font may be normal Arial Bold but the target application does not know it unless you tell it. This is known as font mapping. If the font is not mapped correctly, the closest font will be substituted. In this example, “EHJPKB_Arial-Bold” must be mapped as “Arial” with font style “Bold”. In order to learn more, please read the Tech Note: Font Mapping

In case of SVG or EMF as output format we support kerning. Please contact us if you need more information how to configure thus. Turning this option on could improve the WYSIWYG of the text strings.

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There are two important issues at play here.
First – make sure you choose the correct image format for your file type. If your PDF file is mostly text, you should choose GIF or PNG since they render images with few colors sharply. JPEG is better suited for photographic images which use many colors.

The second consideration is resolution or “dots per inch” (dpi). The resolution you choose determines the quality (and the size) of the output. Although a high resolution will yield a super-sharp image, it will also product a large file size which may impact performance. The rule of thumb is to use the lowest resolution which delivers the quality you need. Some guidelines are:

  • For screen display (web or office) – use 96dpi.
  • For images that will be printed on laser or inkjet printers – use 150 dpi
  • For images that will be printed professionally – use 300 dpi

If you want to adjust the resolution, simply increase the dpi setting in the Options menu.

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The font glyphs of the 13 standard PostScript fonts are included.

If you need to convert to an image format or the text to curves/polys (= emulate) in a vector format either the font must be one of the 13 standard fonts or the font should be embedded within the PDF or PostScript file. Contact if you want to add font glyphs.

13 Standard PostScript fonts:

  • Courier (Regular, Oblique, Bold, Bold Oblique)
  • Helvetica (Regular, Oblique, Bold, Bold Oblique)
  • Times (Roman, Italic, Bold, Bold Italic)
  • Symbol

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  • The image formats used on web sites are JPEG (or JPG), PNG and GIF. JPEG is best for images with many colors such as photos. GIF is best for line art, illustrations and drawings with limited color. PNG is the most versatile and can be used quite broadly on web-sites.
  • The image formats used in documents follow a similar rule. GIF, TIFF and PNG are best for images with fewer colors and JPEG is used for images with many colors such as photos. The best test is to use pdf2image to convert to a few different formats and then view them both on-screen and in print to see which gives you the desired result.
  • It’s also important to determine what formats your application can import. If the program you want to use only accepts BMP, then you need to convert to this format, even if it produces larger files than PNG.

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  • If you are generating images for use on web sites, convert at 72 dpi (dots per inch) or 96 dpi. These settings match screen resolution pixel for pixel for the best match and sharpest display.
  • For general office printing, choose 150 dpi. This will generate a crisp image with the smallest file size.
  • For office publishing and high quality laser printing, choose 300 dpi. The files will be larger but the images will be very clear.
  • For professional printing, choose 300 dpi – 1200 dpi. It’s best to ask your printer who will recommend the best resolution to match his equipment.

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