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Excel files are perfect for any data-related processes, from organization to analytics. However, one thing Excel isn’t that great for is sharing. When it comes to sending large datasets to others, these heavy spreadsheet files can end up taking a long time to load. On the other hand, a PDF is the perfect file format to convert your Excel into. Its universal compatibility makes it the best file for sharing. Luckily, turning your Excel files into PDF is a very quick and easy process.

In this article, you’ll learn how to convert Excel to PDF using various methods. Firstly, you’ll learn how to save a copy of your Excel as PDF. You’ll also learn how to change your page setup settings for a PDF version of your Excel that fits on a single page. Finally, you’ll learn how to convert your Excel to PDF using the Adobe Acrobat PDF Maker, and using the Adobe DC add-in in Excel.

How to save Excel as PDF?

This is possibly the most common way to turn your Excel workbook into a PDF. It may be best to use “Save As” rather than “Save”, so you have your original format as well as the PDF version.

This method is best for those using the Excel desktop app. What’s more, you can easily convert your Excel to PDF without a converter.

Let’s take a look at how to save your Excel as PDF for both Windows and macOS.

Export Excel as PDF for Windows

The following steps are compatible with the following versions: Microsoft 365, Office 2021, Office 2019, and Office 2016:

  1. 1. In your workbook, head to File > Save As, or File > Save a copy.
  2. 2. Click “Browse”.
  3. 3. In the “Save as type” dropdown, select “PDF”.
  4. 4. Press “Options…”. Under “Publish what”, choose to publish using the following options:
  • “Entire workbook”: convert the whole workbook as PDF.
  • “Active sheet(s)”: convert only the sheets with data as PDF.
  • “Selection”: convert a previously highlighted selection as PDF.
  1. 5. Click “Ok” to close the “Options…” window.
  2. 6. Click “Save” to save the new PDF version.

If you have any older version of Office, such as office 2010, head to the Microsoft Support page for more information.

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Export Excel as PDF for MacOS

The method for Mac is very similar to Microsoft:

  1. 1. Head to File > Save As.
  2. 2. Choose the destination to save your file.
  3. 3. In the “File format” dropdown, select “PDF”.
  4. 4. Select one of the following options:
  • “Worksheet”: save the entire worksheet as PDF.
  • “Sheet”: save the current sheet as PDF.
  • “Selection”: save the dataset you’ve highlighted as PDF.
  1. 5. Click “Save”.
How to Convert Excel to PDF Quick Easy Save as PDF Mac
How to Convert Excel to PDF (Quick & Easy) - Save as PDF Mac

Now you have a PDF version of your Excel file. What you may notice, depending on how large your data is, is that your columns are spread across multiple PDF pages, making them difficult to read. There is a simple solution to this - let’s take a look.

How to export Excel as PDF as one page?

To export your Excel as one page, simply adjust the “Page setup settings”:

  1. 1. Head to File > Page setup…
  2. 2. Under “Scaling”, select the “Fit to” option.
  3. 3. Add “1” to “Pages in width” and “1” to “Tall”.
  4. 4. Click “Ok”.
How to Convert Excel to PDF Quick Easy Scaling PDF Page Setup
How to Convert Excel to PDF Quick Easy Scaling PDF Page Setup
  1. 5. Now head to File > Save As.
  2. 6. Select “PDF” for your format and adjust the other settings to your preferences. 
  3. 7. Click “Save”.
How to Convert Excel to PDF Quick Easy Save as PDF Mac
How to Convert Excel to PDF Quick Easy Save as PDF Mac

As you can see below, the worksheet now spans across just one page, making it a lot easier to read the data.

How to Convert Excel to PDF Quick Easy Excel to PDF in one page
How to Convert Excel to PDF (Quick & Easy) - Excel to PDF in one page

How to convert Excel to PDF with Adobe Acrobat PDF Maker?

If you’re working in the online Excel app, you may notice that trying to export your Excel file as a PDF is harder to do. The “Export” feature has been removed in the newer version of the online Excel app.

Now, you either have to download a copy of your Excel file (File > Download a copy) and then convert it to PDF using the steps outlined above, or you have to install a tool to convert directly to a PDF. Luckily, Adobe Acrobat offers the exact tool you need to create a PDF version of your Excel within the online app. This also works within your desktop app too.

In order to use the Acrobat PDF Maker, you must have a subscription to the Adobe Acrobat paid version. If you have this, you’ll have access to Acrobat in your Excel toolbar.

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Convert Excel to PDF using Adobe Acrobat PDF Maker

  1. 1. In your toolbar, click the ACROBAT tab.
  2. 2. Press “Create PDF”.
  3. 3. Name your PDF, which sheets to convert, then click “Convert to PDF”.
  4. 4. Choose the location to save your PDF, then click “Save”.

You can open the PDF using Adobe Acrobat Reader, where you can use additional features to edit, sign or comment on the PDF.

Convert Excel to PDF using Adobe Cloud Document add-in

Don’t have the paid Adobe Acrobat tool, but have Adobe Creative Cloud? You can use the Adobe DC add-on in Excel to convert your Excel files to PDF.

  1. 1. Search for “Adobe” in the search bar, and select, “Adobe Acrobat for Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint”. Click “Add”. The tool should now appear on the far right-hand side of your “Home” navigation bar.
How to Convert Excel to PDF Quick Easy Adobe Acrobat Excel add in
How to Convert Excel to PDF (Quick & Easy) - Adobe Acrobat Excel add-in
  1. 2. Click on the add-in, and a window will pop up below.
  2. 3. Name your PDF file. Click “Convert”.
  3. 4. You should now have a PDF of your Excel data.
How to Convert Excel to PDF Quick Easy Adobe Document Cloud Create PDF
How to Convert Excel to PDF (Quick & Easy) - Adobe Document Cloud Create PDF

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Conclusion

Learning how to convert your Excel files into PDF is a common need for the majority of Excel users, especially when it comes to sharing your data with others. Excel makes it easy to save your .xlsx files into a variety of file types, including PDF. However, depending on your version of Excel, you may prefer to use an intelligent tool like Adobe Acrobat that can be used across all Excel types, and offer extra features to customize your PDFs.

By the end of this article, you should know how to save a copy of your Excel as a PDF, alter the page setup settings to add your spreadsheet onto one page, and finally, use Adobe tools to create PDFs from your Excel sheets.

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Hady ElHady
Hady is Content Lead at Layer.

Hady has a passion for tech, marketing, and spreadsheets. Besides his Computer Science degree, he has vast experience in developing, launching, and scaling content marketing processes at SaaS startups.

Originally published Mar 25 2022, Updated Sep 23 2022