Featured - How to Convert Excel Files to PDF

Excel is an incredible tool for data processing, but its file format isn’t quite as universal as the humble PDF. The PDF is harder to edit, compatible with a wider range of devices, and requires little to no additional software. This, combined with its static nature, makes it an ideal format for published reports. Today we’re going to show you how to convert Excel files to PDF so you can do just that.

How to convert Excel to PDF without losing formatting

Before we start on the various methods to save Excel files as PDFs, it’s important to discuss how you can minimize the chances you’ll get a bad conversion. Converting .xls or .xlsx to PDF can cause problems with pages being cut off or misaligned.

As a result, before you save to PDF, we recommend your margins, orientations, and size, as well as any headers of footers you’d like. You may also want to define your print area in the page layout tab and use page breaks to separate different tables. While you’re in the page layout tab, you should also change the width, height, and scale of your document to be suitable for printing.

With those quick tips out of the way, let’s move on to how to convert Excel documents to PDF files and how you can modify Excel so you can do it faster in the future:

How to Save Excel Files as PDF

A simple but intuitive way to convert .xls files to PDF is to save a copy directly from Word in PDF format. This thankfully only takes a few clicks, but usually produces good results. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Press “File” in the top-right corner of your spreadsheet

    Windows 11 - Excel - File

  2. Click “Save a Copy” in the sidebar, click “This PC”, and choose PDF as the save format

    You’ll find “This PC” under the “Other locations” heading in the main pane. The format can be changed by clicking the dropdown arrow next to “Excel Workbook” on the right and selecting “PDF” from the list.

    Clicking the “Save” button will then prompt the user to save the Excel file as a PDF.

    Windows 11 - Excel - File - Save a Copy - This PC - Dropdown Arrow - PDF - Save

  3. Optional: Press “More options” under format dropdown to modify PDF settings

    Windows 11 - Excel - File - Save a Copy - This PC - More Options

  4. Press “Options…” again in the File Explorer “Save As” pop-up

    Windows 11 - Excel - File - Save a Copy - This PC - More Options - Options

  5. Modify your page options and press “OK”

    Excel will place the PDF file in the folder of your choice.

    Windows 11 - Excel - File - Save a Copy - This PC - More Options - Options

How to Use Excel to Export as PDF

Instead of saving as PDF, you can instead export as PDF directly from Excel. This produces much the same result but can be slightly less confusing. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Open your Excel document and press “File” the top left

     

    Windows 11 - Excel - File

  2. Press “Export” in the sidebar, then “Create PDF/XPS Document”

    Windows 11 - Excel - File - Export - Create PDFXPS

  3. Optional: Press the “Options…” button in the File Explorer pop-up

    Windows 11 - Excel - File - Export - Create PDFXPS - Options

  4. Adjust your document settings and press “OK”

    You can then save your Excel file as a PDF in any location you like.

    02.4 Windows 11 - Excel - File - Export - Create PDFXPS - Options

How to Add an Export to PDF Button to the Quick Access Toolbar

To speed up Excel’s export to PDF process in the future, you can add a “Publish to PDF” button to your Quick Access Toolbar. This will allow you to complete the whole process in just a couple of clicks:

  1. Right-click the Excel ribbon and press “Customize the Ribbon…”

    Windows 11 - Excel - Open Customize the Ribbon

  2. Click “Quick Access Toolbar” in the sidebar and add the “Publish as PDF” command

    You can add the command by selecting “All Commands” from the “Shoose commands from” dropdown, clicking on “Publish PDF or XPS”, then pressing “Add >>” between the two columns. Pressing “OK” will apply the changes to your toolbar.

    Windows 11 - Excel - Customize the Ribbon - Quick Access - Toolbar - All Commands - Publish as PDF or XPS - Add - Accept

  3. Click the “PDF or XPS” button in your toolbar to export

    Windows 11 - Excel - Quick Access Toolbar - PDF or XPS Icon

  4. Browse to the save location and press “Publish” in File Explorer

    Windows 11 - Excel - Quick Access Toolbar - PDF or XPS Icon - Publish

How to Add the Email as PDF Attachment Button to the Quick Access Toolbar 

If you usually email your PDFs straight away, you can cut out even more busy work by adding the “Email as PDF Attachment” command to your Quick Access Toolbar. Here’s how you do that:

  1. Right-click your ribbon and choose “Customize the Ribbon…”

    Windows 11 - Excel - Open Customize the Ribbon

  2. Click “Quick Access Toolbar” in the sidebar and add the “Email as PDF Attachment” command

    You can do so by scrolling down the list until you find the command, clicking it, then pressing “Add” between the two columns. Once you’re done, press “OK” to apply the changes.

    Windows 11 - Excel - Excel Options - Quick Access Toolbar - E-mail as PDF Attachment - Add - Accept

  3. Click the “E-mail as PDF Attachment” button in your Quick Access Toolbar

    Windows 11 - Excel - Quick Access Toolbar - E-mail as PDF Attachment Icon

  4. Email your PDF file to the intended recipient

    Windows 11 - Excel - Quick Access Toolbar - E-mail as PDF Attachment Icon - Message

How Convert an Excel File to a PDF with File Converter

The final method we’ll be showcasing today involves the use of File Converter, a free tool that lets you convert pretty much anything in a couple of clicks. Once you’ve installed it, here’s how to use it to convert XLXS to PDF:

  1. Right-click the Excel file you want to convert and press “Show more options”

    Windows 11 - Excel - Show More Options

  2. Choose “File Converter” from the context menu and press “To Pdf”

    Windows 11 - Excel - Show More Options - File Converter - To Pdf

  3. Wait for the conversion to complete

    Once the conversion is complete, your progress bar will reach the end and the entry will light up green.

    Windows 11 - Excel - Show More Options - File Converter - To Pdf - Done

  4. View your output PDF

    Navigate to the specified output folder of your PDF to view the file in full.

    Windows 11 - Excel - To Pdf - Result

Extra: How to Convert a Word Document to PDF

Now that you know how to convert an Excel file to PDF, you may be wondering how to do the same for Word. Thankfully, we already have a save Word document as a PDF tutorial up for you to follow.

Windows 11 - Word - File - Save a Copy - This PC - Dropdown Arrow - PDF - More Options

Extra: How to Lock Cells in Excel

Alternatively, if you’d like to share your Excel file with others without making it a PDF, you can lock its cells so users can’t edit it. Here’s our existing guide on how to lock cells in Excel.

Windows 11 - Excel - Select All Cells - Context Menu - Format Cells - Locked - Accept