Export to PDF

PDF files are designed to be consistently viewable and printable across different platforms. They are commonly used for distributing documents on the web, and the format is now an official ISO standard for document interchange. PDFs are editable in many graphics applications. They can retain map georeference information, annotation, labeling, and feature attribute data in the file. Additionally, the entire document or individual layers can be rasterized to simplify the document and decrease file size.

To export a PDF document, complete the following steps:

Ensure a map, layout, or report view is active. On the Share tab, click Export Map Export Map, Export Layout Export Layout, or Export Report Export Report, depending on the active view, to open the Export pane.

Set File Type to PDF. Set a name and location for the file, as well as any other properties, and click Export.


Certain options are only available when exporting a map or layout. When exporting a map, you can set the size of the map export. When exporting a layout, you can clip to graphics extent.

Layers using any of the following blend modes will be rasterized (and flattened with any layers below) to preserve the appearance of the blend when exported to PDF format:
  • Linear Dodge
  • Linear Burn
  • Linear Light
  • Pin Light
  • Vivid Light

There are many properties available when exporting to PDF format. They are listed under two tabs in the pane, Properties and Security. If a layout is being exported, an additional tab, Accessibility, provides options for creating a tagged PDF document that can be read by screen readers. When exporting a map series, an additional Map Series tab with properties specific to the map series is also available. For more information about exporting a map series, see Export a map series.


The Properties tab contains the general properties and settings for a PDF export. The following properties are available:

Remove layout background

Remove the white page background when exporting a layout. Depending on the application used to open the exported .pdf file, you may not see a visual difference with the background removed unless you edit the file.

Show selection symbology

Show selected features in the map or map frame as selected in the output file. Unchecking this option does not affect selection within the view, only in the output file.

Output as image

Export all content as an image. For maps or layouts containing vector layers with a high density of vertices, this can drastically reduce the output file size. Options specific to vector data, such as Layers and attributes, are unavailable when Output as image is checked.


Alternatively, use the option to rasterize a layer to rasterize specific layers instead of the entire output.

Image compression

The compression scheme used to compress image or raster data in the output file. Choose from the following:

  • None—Compression is not applied.
  • Adaptive—JPEG and Deflate compression are combined, depending on the contents of the stream. This works well for most cases.
  • Deflate—Lossless compression method that works well for most cases.
  • JPEG—Lossy compression method that works well for photographic-type images.
  • JPEG 2000—Higher-quality compression with file sizes smaller than JPEG. This compression is lossless if set to quality 100.
  • LZW—Lossless compression method using a code table.
  • RLE—Run-length encoded compression, a lossless compression method that works well if there are large areas of the same color.


The amount of image compression applied to the export. Low quality has a smaller file size but less clear data; max quality has a larger file size but crisper data. This only applies when certain compression types are used.

Compress vector graphics

Compress the vector content streams. This option should be left on unless you need clear text for troubleshooting.

Vector resolution

The effective dpi of the vector data in the layout. DPI is available only when exporting a layout. When exporting a map, the dpi is calculated automatically.

Raster resample

The amount of image resampling. The control determines the effective resolution of raster content on output. For instance, if the output image quality ratio is set to 1:2 and the output resolution is set to 300 dpi, the raster content is output at approximately 150 dpi. In many cases, the raster data can be included at a lower dpi than the vector data without visibly affecting quality, reducing the output file size.

Embed fonts

Include embeddable fonts in the exported file to maintain font consistency across different platforms. Fonts that do not support embedding are not included, regardless of this setting.

Convert character marker symbols to polygon

Controls whether marker symbols based on font characters are exported as font characters or as polygons. Check this option to view the output on a machine that does not have the appropriate fonts installed when you cannot embed the fonts due to licensing or file format restrictions. This does not apply to text, only marker symbols based on fonts.

Export georeference information

Include geospatial information from the map frames. If this information is included, you can extract x,y coordinate information from the map frames and perform geographic measurement directly on the map frame in supported PDF readers.

Layers and attributes

Include layers in the map or layout that can be viewed and managed in supported PDF readers. Additionally, you can include the attribute data from the features. Including attributes for a large number of layers can affect performance and increase the size of the output.


The option to include feature attributes is not available if the layout export includes accessibility tags. If this option is not visible, uncheck the Include accessibility tags check box on the Accessibility tab of the Export pane to see it.

Include non-visible layers

When checked, this property ensures that all layers in the map are included in the exported file, including layers with visibility unchecked. The visibility status of all layers is retained in the exported file. Use this option to create deliverables with several views of the same data. When this property is unchecked, only visible layers in the map are included in the exported file. Non-visible layers are dropped.

Simulate Overprint

Also called soft proofing, Simulate Overprint shows a representation of how overlapping areas of ink appear when printed on a page. You set up overprinting on the symbol layers of symbols or graphics.

Learn more about overprinting


When you simulate overprint on export, vector features are rasterized into images. They are not maintained as individual vector layers in the output PDF document. This results in options specific to vector data, such as Layers and attributes, being unavailable.

Embed color profile

Include the color profile set for the map or layout in the exported file. This helps create consistency in colors when the file is viewed on different devices. If the profile is not embedded, or a non-color-managed viewer is used, the colors may be significantly different than what is seen on-screen.

This option is only available when color management is enabled. If color management is not enabled and the colorspace is set to CMYK, the CMYK colorspace is still included in the export. This may cause some colors to appear differently when viewing the exported file.


The Security tab contains options relating to the security of the PDF export, including password protection and restricting editing capabilities.

Use password to restrict opening document

Set a password that must be entered before you or others can view the exported file.

Use password to restrict editing and permission settings

Set a password that must be entered before you or others can edit or be granted permissions on the exported file.

Enable copying

Allow others to copy the exported file.

Enable text access for screen readers

Allow screen readers to access the text in the exported file and read it aloud.

Printing allowed

Set the print quality allowed, or restrict printing of the exported file.

Editing allowed

Set the type of editing allowed on the exported file.

Accessibility for layout exports

The Accessibility tab contains options for writing a tagged PDF document, which can be read by screen readers or other assistive technology. A tagged PDF document can include alt text—a text description of a graphic element that a screen reader uses to describe the element—for map frames, pictures, and chart frames. Alt text is added in the Element Pane for each element. Tagged PDF documents are currently only available for layout exports.

Include accessibility tags

Output a tagged PDF document from which text can be read by screen readers or other assistive technology. Alt text for layout elements is not included in the PDF document unless this option is checked.


Set the title of the document. This will be displayed when the document is opened.


Set the language of the text in the document so a screen reader can interpret it correctly. If the map or layout is in multiple languages, additional post-processing may be required to set the language appropriately for individual text elements.


Include a brief overview of what the document is about.


Include the document author. According to some accessibility guidelines, this should be the office or group producing the document and not an individual person.


Include keywords to assist in document searches.


The title, language, subject, author, and keywords for a PDF document are considered standard PDF metadata. They are not specific to a tagged PDF document and are included even if Include accessibility tags is not checked.

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