How to Articles

How to keep your Word 2010 background image or gradient when you save it as a PDF

How to keep your Word 2010 background image or gradient when you save it as a PDF –

Have you ever created an awesome looking document in Word 2010 using a shaded gradient background and when you went to save it as a PDF, the background colors are gone? Even when the print preview showed it because after that first attempt you Googled why your background wasn’t showing up?

Well, I just went through this process while trying to create fancy Character Sheets for my new book. I Googled why my background disappeared and followed the directions to go to File, Options, Display, and when that window box pops up, go to Print Options and check the box in front of Print Background colors and images.

It didn’t work. Not the save as a PDF, not printing it from Word, not printing it as a PDF. Nothing worked even with that little boxed checked.

Print box checked image

So began my next Google search for a work around because I really wanted to keep the pages I created looking as nice as I had originally designed.

I eventually found a work around but how people described to do it, made it sound much more difficult than it actually is. That’s not to say that it didn’t definitely require a few extra steps. It most certainly did.

I’m here to break down those steps. This How To teaches as least 13 or more different things for using Word, Paint and Adobe Acrobat. I go step-by-step so there might be things you already know how to do in this post but I wanted to cover the steps for those that didn’t know each one. If you already know how to do a step, just move on to the next one.

The first thing you need to do is open both the document you created in Word 2010 and a new blank Word document.

Keep the original Word document open and save it as a new file with a slightly different name. This way, if something goes wrong while you are trying to do this, you won’t lose all that original work you did and you can reference the original file.

Once you save the created document as a newly named file, open up the new file in Word as well.

You should now have 3 Word documents open – the original (for this post I’m working with my Stefano Moriarti character sheet), the blank document, and the saved as a  new titled original (for this post I saved the Stefano Moriarti Character sheet as Stefano Moriati Character sheet 2). Make sure to verify which document you are working in before you follow the next steps.

Now would also be a great time to open up the Windows Paint program or any art program you have installed on your computer. For the purpose of this post, I’m going to work in Word Paint.

Okay, now the fun stuff begins.

In the saved as Document, follow these instructions.

  1. Verify that you are in the renamed document. This is a full screen shot of my character sheet 2. I’m in the correct document as you can see by the file name at the top of the screen.

Screen shot of Moriarti sheet 2

2. Once you open that file, go to the Page layout tab. You can see the tab in the image above. Click on the Page layout table and your editing options will change.

Page Layout Tab shot

3. Click on Page Colors. This should be how you created the gradient to begin with but I’ll walk you through the steps to be sure we’re on the same page.

More colors box shot

4. Now click on the box that says no colors. What? You’re probably like why would I delete all that time I spent selecting the right gradient colors and clear my work? Because you have to in order to get the colors to save to PDF or Print to PDF. Remember this is the saved as document so you still have that work saved in the original document. Once you click the no colors box, your background should be back to blank page white.

No color screen shot

5. Now that the document is back to background blank page white, we go to our new blank document and start working in that.

blank page screen shot

6. Now go back to the Page Layout Tab, select Page Colors and create your background gradient by clicking on the Fill Effects box.

Fill effects box click

7. Once you click on the Fill Effects box, a new window will open up. For the purpose of this post, click on the Two Colors circle:

2 color choices selected

8. A new box will appear giving you choices. Select the arrow button next to the white box under Color 1. From there select the color you want to use. I selected mine.

Color 1 selection

9. I went to the More Colors option to select my Color 1 choice. After you pick your first color, you will see your color in the white box under Color 1. And now you can select your Color 2 like you did in step 8.

Color 2 selection

10. Here is what it looks like when you select More Colors and pick a color choice:

Color 2 Blue selection

11. Once you select both colors, you can choose how they show on the page with the Shading styles options below. I selected Horizontal for the purpose of this post. I also selected the top left corner Variances square. My image below has arrows so you can see what I’m talking about.  Once you make your selection, click the OK button to see how it looks.

2 color choices selected

12. My background for this post turned out something like below:

Background colors example

13. Now go to the View Tab and select Full Screen Reading view:

Full screen selection

14. Once you select the Full Screen Reading button, your screen should immediately look like this:

Full screen view

15. Now is where it gets more technical. On most keyboards there is a button that has PrtScr and a little tower symbol with (( )) around it. Go back to your Word document – the one with the blank page with the pretty background colors we just created in Full Screen Reading view still – and click on the PrtScrn button. Did you click it? And nothing visibly happened, right? Don’t worry. If you clicked the button while on the Full Screen Reading view, the next steps will show you how that button is going to be our best friend for this project.

(Picture of my laptop keyboard PrtScr button)


16. Your Paint program should have been opened and waiting for this next step. If its not open, please open it now. Click on the white little screen, and while holding the Ctrl button, press the letter V button on your keyboard. If you did it correctly, the Full Screen Reading image will have been screen grabbed and pasted into the Paint program and you should see something like this:

Paint pastes screen grab


17. This next part is a little tricky. I’m going to walk you through cropping out just the Word document with the background colors. This is tricky because part of the Word document is not visible on my screen so when I go to crop out just the Word document with the background colors, I’m going to have to do some adjustments. Okay, in the Paint program, there is the crop option.  Click the Select button in the tool bar. Then select crop. When you select crop, the mouse arrow will turn into a star like circle. I can’t screen grab the image for you to see it but that’s your new mouse arrow for the next few seconds.

Select and Crop tool bar image

18. Now carefully select the top corner of the Word document by clicking the left mouse button. Keep a solid hold on the left mouse button as you drag your mouse diagonally down to the opposite corner. Don’t worry if you don’t make it all the way down to the bottom corner since you can adjust so that the selection covers JUST the complete page. If you didn’t make to the bottom corner, carefully hover the mouse over the lower right corner of the dotted box your created, until you see an arrow appear and click the left mouse button again. While holding the button, move the dotted box until it fully covers only the Word document. If you mess up and the image gets shifted or messed up, the undo left arrow button is your friend. I use it a couple of times while I try to select the Word document. You may need to use the slide roller on the mouse to shift the image up and down so you can select the whole page. This helps to make sure you get the full Word page. I’ve provided a few images of the process:

Image: Initial Page Crop Selection. You can see I didn’t make it to the edge of the Word Doc or the bottom.

Full screen crop selection part 1

Image: I’ve hovered over that little lower corner square, seeing the double arrow, left clicked my mouse button and dragged the dotted box to the edge of the page. Then I scrolled down until I could see the bottom of the Word doc. I hovered over the middle square box, saw the double arrow and dragged the dotted line down to the bottom of the Word Doc.

Bottom dotted box

19. Now, once you have the page selected, don’t scroll, don’t touch anything except the crop button and should see something like this:

Word Doc background color cropped

20. Save the image as a JPEG in the same folder that both the Word documents are saved in. Title it whatever you want. I saved my as Stefano Moriati Background color.

screenshot of saving as a J P G

21. Next, go back to the saved as Word document that you changed to a blank white background. Make sure you are in the saved as document and not the original one. In the saved as document, select Insert tab, select picture,  then a box will open up. Your saved background image should be in the same folder as your Word documents.

This image is the Insert tab and picture steps.

Select picture image

This image is the window that pops up in which you have to go to the folder where you saved your image and Word docs and select the background image to insert:

Insert image steps

Be prepared. When you click insert, some of your text may shift about but the next step will fix that.

Shifted text after pic insert

22. Now as you can see in the above image, my text has shifted all over the place and I have the background image there but it’s not filling the page. If you haven’t clicked on anything else, there should be a Pictures Format tab now opened up. Select the Wrap Text button so a box appears. If you did select a different tab and need to get to the Wrap Text button, go to the Page Layout tab and select the Wrap Text button so that a box appears. Select the BEHIND TEXT option as shown in the picture below. You can already see how I have my image and text back.

Behind text selection

23. Now, select the background gradient image and expand it to fit the entire page. The next few images will show the process of doing that.

First expansion to the left corner and side:

First background expansion

Second expansion over the right side of the page:

2nd background expansion

Third expansion to the bottom of the page:

Bottom page expanded

Full page once the image has been expanded to cover it:

Screen shot of Moriarti sheet 2

24. So now you’re probably wondering why you just went through all these steps just to make the exact same background you had originally made with the Fill Effects options. Well, remember, that gradient wouldn’t print. Not to PDF, not via a printer. This method will print!! I wanted to save it as a PDF and then in Acrobat save my image as a JPEG. Using this method, I can do all that and keep my background gradient!

Next save your document in Word. Then click Save as when you go to save it again. A window will pop up. From there, you need to select the arrow button by the Save as type selection box and select PDF. Like this:

Select Save as:

Save as screen shot in Word

Here’s the window that popped up. You can see the Save as type and drop down menu where you select PDF:

Save as PDF Word screen shot

25. You can opt to change the title of your PDF but I usually keep my PDF file name the same as my Word doc. Once you click PDF, it will give you a save button to select. Click that and You should have a PDF file waiting for you to open. Another method to save as a PDF is to Print to PDF. You would select the Print option, select the Acrobat Printer. Make sure it’s set to print background images and click Print. A window will pop up asking you to save the file. Make sure its set to save in the same place as the Word Doc and click Save. It will take a few seconds for the file to print.

26. Next we go to Adobe Acrobat and open up the file to see if we successfully saved it and can now see the background colors. I have Adobe Acrobat 9 Pro. Here I am finding my Character Sheet 2 file to open:

Adobe file selection

27. Once I select open, we get to see if we have achieved are goal. SUCCESS!!

PDF success


28. Now if your goal was only to get the background gradient to print to PDF, then you’re all done! Enjoy! But if you wanted to save that PDF to a picture you can share, follow this step. Click on File, Click on Save as and a window will pop up again. Click on the Save as type box arrow down button and select JPEG from the window that comes up. You can see this step below:

Save PDF as J P E G

29. Select Save and you will now have the Word Doc saved as both a PDF and JPEG with a visible and printable JPEG.

Here is an image of the saved documents accessed through File Explorer in Windows 10:

All three files together

And here is the final Word document saved as a JPEG. I hope this How To has helped you. I know it helped me a lot while prepping my next book to be released. I inserted Clip Art into my book and had to use a version of this How To for it to print correctly to PDF. That’s another How To blog post to come!

Stefano Moriarti - Character Sheet 2