Resources - PDFs: Compress a large PDF for upload

PDF files can become large files if they contain a large amount of high resolution photos.


For documents created using Microsoft Word

If you have the original copy of the document in Microsoft Word format, you can re-save it as a PDF file for publishing online (available in Word 2007 onwards under the "Save As" menu). Options are presented for saving for web or print. Choosing the web option will reduce the size of the file dramatically.

In addition, you can also alter the resolution of the imagery used within the original document before inserting, and this will have a significant effect on the final PDF size. Guidance on compressing photo are available for Windows and Mac.


Other PDF compression options for Windows

If you don't have the original document from which the PDF was created, or it was created on a programme other than Microsoft Word, then there are freely available tools on the web that you can use to compress your PDF.

One popular and free PDF Printing tool is CutePDF (, which allows you to select a PDF printer from your normal list of printers. Instead of producing a hard-copy, it then saves the output as a PDF, which is also of web quality.


PDF compression on Mac OS X

Computers running Mac OS X have a PDF compression function already built-in to the operating system. To access this functionality:

  1. Open Preview, in your Applications folder.
  2. Choose File > Open, select the PDF file to compress, and then click Open.
  3. Choose File > Save As, then select "Reduce File Size" from the Quartz Filter pop-up menu, and enter a name and location for the new PDF file.
  4. Click Save.

This process compresses the images in the file. The compressed images look the same as the originals when viewed on screen, but may appear to be of lower quality when printed.

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