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It seems there is no solution for inserting a vector-based figure (e.g. PDF) into MS Office (Word and Powerpoint). Others have suggested converting the image into a high-resolution raster image first, e.g. here and on the Microsoft support forums. However, none of the workarounds will keep the inserted image as a vector-based figure (which has many advantages over a raster-based image, e.g. you can select and search text). My workaround is to save the PowerPoint as a PDF after inserting the image. In that way, you can keep the image in a vector-based image. Does anyone know of a better solution?

I’m a Mac user, so I’d be more interested in a Mac solution here.

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PowerPoint 2011 and 2016 don't retain vector graphics from PDF files, but merrily convert everything into bitmap graphics when the presentation is saved. To embed vector graphics in the presentation file, it's necessary to use an .EMF or .WMF file (Enhanced Metafile / Windows Metafile) instead of PDF. These are Microsoft's own portable graphics formats from the Windows world and can contain bitmap elements and vector elements. The EMF format is preferable over its older version WMF because EMF supports vector graphics better.

To embed vector graphics from a PDF file, the PDF file will need to be converted to an EMF file, but if possible, it would be preferable to use an EMF file exported directly from the software that was used to create the graphics in the first place. Vector graphics editors like Adobe Illustrator and Inkscape as well as OpenOffice Draw all can export .EMF files. (Affinity Designer currently not so.) The possible downside is that more complex graphics and effects from advanced applications like Illustrator may be rendered wrong in the EMF format, which then makes it necessary to convert the vector graphics into bitmap graphics after all.

For conversion, there are commercially sold utilities and free websites. There are also tools to convert PDF files directly to PowerPoint presentations (.pptx files), but I'm not sure about the quality of these solutions, e.g., they might just convert the vector graphics into bitmap graphics...

Using vector graphics applications for export or conversion:

Adobe Illustrator can export to EMF format. So if AI is at hand, this is the tool of choice: Open the PDF file (or the original .AI file) in Illustrator and choose File > Export…, then choose "Enhanced Metafile (emf)" from the format selection in the dialog box.

Inkscape (open source software) can export to the EMF format (File > Save As…), and placing the these files in PowerPoint seems to work fine. But when importing and re-exporting existing PDFs with complex graphics, e.g., from Illustrator, the result may differ from the original.

Wikipedia has a comparison of vector graphics applications with their export formats.


If this is all too much trouble and you want to keep at least a high-resolution bitmap image, the best workaround is to convert the PDF into a high-resolution image yourself, e.g., by using the Preview application to open and export the PDF as PNG. (Beware: Depending on the source of the PDF file, it may contain low-resolution bitmap graphics, which can not be 'upscaled' without visible pixelation.)

After placing the image, it's important to adjust PowerPoint's automatic image compression setting before you save the presentation: Choose File > Reduce File Size, and in the dialog box select "Keep Current Resolution"from the drop-down menu.

  • Thanks for reply. Would that also work for Mac? Actually I should have specified it in my question. – Xianjun Mar 23 '16 at 15:29
  • Yes, it's all from the perspective of PowerPoint / Office for Mac. – Dictionarics Anonymous Mar 23 '16 at 15:55
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Actually, after investigating different solutions, I found that EPS (also a vector-based format) works perfectly in Mac Powerpoint 2011 (I've not tried MS Word yet, but I guess it will work, too). If you convert PDF to EPS and insert it into powerpoint as a picture, it will keep crystal clear and infinite resolution :D The only caveat is the EPS file is usually ~1.5 fold larger than PDF. It worths to give a try if you are picky with the resolution like me :)

  • Interesting, I tested with an EPS before and it didn't import into PP. Now I re-tested it with an EPS exported from Illustrator and it does work, although there is an unwanted line element showing in the image. I'm guessing MS Office might be fickle with different EPS format versions. What is the original creator software of the PDF, and what app did you use to convert it to EPS? – Dictionarics Anonymous Mar 23 '16 at 15:58
  • I saved my AI (Adobe Illustrator) file into PDF and EPS and from there to insert into MS Office. – Xianjun Apr 7 '16 at 17:09
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Mac & Powerpoint users forget about everything. Just copy/paste each layer/graphic from the original vector graphics application to powerpoint (use several slides to ease your work), one by one, and then unite them. In this way you can create an animated logo for instance, easily. But be aware that you must use "screen recording" in quick time player, and than simply trim the video.

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Open PDF in Illustrator. Save the PDF from Illustrator as SVG. That imports well into PowerPoint, and scales very well in PowerPoint. There are options for the font too when saving to the SVG.

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  1. Open PDF in PDF-XChange Editor
  2. Right Click on the drawing
  3. Choose "Export Selection to PowerPoint"

This exports beautifully to PowerPoint, AND the vector drawing is fully editable afterwards in PowerPoint! Change line widths or colors, add or delete lines etc. pp...

Side note: editing the drawing afterwards in PowerPoint will only work when a valid license for PDF-XChange Editor is present. Otherwise the *.ppt file will be read only.

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As of macOS 10.12.6 and MS Powerpoint 2016, it appears that direct drag-and-drop a PDF to a slide will make it shown as a vector image and stored in EMF format (if you unzip the .pptx as a .zip file you will see the inserted image as an .emf).

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