From time to time, we get questions about the level of support that Microsoft Office currently offers for PDF. PDF has been an international standard since 2008, ISO 32000, and has several accompanying standards for specific uses, including archiving (PDF/A, ISO 19005). We currently offer customers a choice between Save as PDF with a number of options, and Save as PDF/A. Details on our compliance with the standards is detailed below.

Details on Microsoft Office's Support for PDF

April 4, 2013

Microsoft Office is strongly committed to supporting PDF standards, including ISO 32000-1 and ISO 19005-1, in Office 2007, Office 2010 and Office 2013.

ISO 32000-1 is based on version 1.7 of the PDF Reference. While Office does not output version 1.7, that version is a cumulative superset of the previous versions. Therefore, earlier versions of PDF are also compliant with ISO 32000-1.

The PDF version that Office outputs depends on the print intent selected by the user:

  • In most cases, Office uses PDF Version 1.5.
  • In Publisher, saving with the Commercial Print intention, Office uses PDF Version 1.4.
  • In Word and Publisher, if password protection is added to the PDF file, Office uses PDF Version 1.6.
  • If saving as PDF/A, Office uses PDF Version 1.4, as specified in ISO 19005-1.

Office Save as PDF/A is compliant with ISO 19005-1. Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Publisher, and Visio are compliant with PDF/A-1a. Other applications output PDF/A-1b compliant PDF on Save As.

While Microsoft Office is compliant with the mandatory sections of ISO 32000-1, Office does not support every feature the standard covers. For example, Office does not support digital signatures in our PDF output.

With the latest release of Office, Microsoft has added support for opening PDF documents so that PDF files can be edited within Word and the contents can be saved to any supported format. More information on how PDF Reflow works may be found on the Word Blog. By enhancing support for these standardized document formats, Microsoft Office 2013 gives users more choices for office document interoperability as well as more options for sharing, collaborating, and archiving office documents. 

Microsoft continues to lead by giving customers choice and flexibility in file format standards and interoperability.