How to Convert Excel to PDF

by Matthew Kuo on January 9, 2013

in Excel

To learn more about Excel, go to the organized listing of all my Excel tutorial posts or review the

PDF stands for Portable Document Format.  This file format was created by Adobe to ease the process of transferring documents between users.  Converting your Excel file to PDF format is a useful exercise for a number of reasons.  Doing so will:

  • Prevent others from editing your file
  • Give your document a more professional look
  • In most cases reduce the file size of your document

In the past, you had to jump through a lot of hoops and buy expensive software to perform a PDF conversion.  However, this feature is now built into the latest version of Excel (Excel 2010 as of this writing).  The problem is a lot of people still don’t know about it.

Excel’s Built in PDF Conversion

To save your Excel file as a PDF document, simply:

  1. Go to the “File” section tab of the ribbon
  2. Select “Save & Send” from the left hand menu
  3. Under the Save & Send options, click “Create PDF/XPS Document”
  4. Under the Create PDF/XPS Document options, click “Create PDF/XPS”


For those of you that have older versions of Excel, the PDF conversion function is not available.  In that case, you still have several options to convert your excel file to PDF.

Primo PDF

Primo PDF is one of the most popular software downloads for PDF conversion.  This is a program with an executable file that needs to be installed on your computer.  Once installed, Primo PDF will appear as a printer, and every time you print to it, the software will create a PDF file for you.

You can read more about the software on Primo PDF’s website:

And you can download the free version of the software from

Online PDF Conversion Services

There are several websites that provide online PDF conversion services.  These websites allow you to upload Excel files to their servers and afterward, they’ll provide a link for you to download your file in PDF format.  I wouldn’t recommend this service if you have any sensitive information in your document, as the privacy management of these documents is unclear.

Below are a couple of websites that allow you to convert from Excel to PDF.  But honestly, these free service companies have a tendency to disappear very quickly.  Your best bet is probably just to Google the phrase “convert Excel to pdf” and pick from the results.


Adobe Acrobat Professional

Buying Adobe Acrobat is definitely the most expensive option and should only be a last resort if none of the other options above work for you.  Installing the Professional version of Adobe Acrobat (which is not just the free Adobe Acrobat Reader that everyone has) will allow you to save all of your files, including Excel spreadsheets, in PDF format.  If you do purchase this software, make sure you buy the student / teacher edition to get a discounted price.

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