Batch Conversion of Excel to PDF

Updated! I added some more options in this article, October 2010.

I recently received the following inquiries below from customers:

I have several hundred Excel files to convert to PDF as part of a case. Is there a way to do this in Acrobat? A lot of the files have multiple worksheets, too. Do I have to convert each worksheet separately?

So Yes and No. Yes, Acrobat can convert multiple Excel files to PDF. And, No, you don’t have to convert each worksheet separately!

Converting Multiple Worksheets

Fortunately, Acrobat 9 and Acrobat X can easily convert all of the worksheets in your Excel files to PDF:

Excel file with multiple worksheets

When you use the PDF Maker in Acrobat 9 or later, you have some additional options to select just the worksheets needed:

Excel conversion window in Acrobat

A) Choose options to convert all worksheets, the currently selected worksheet or a subset of the worksheets.

B) To choose some worksheets, but not others, select from the list on the left and use the Add or Remove buttons to move them to the list on the right.

C) Click the Convert to PDF button to complete the process

The result is a nicely bookmarked PDF that looks like this:

A nicely bookmarked PDF created from Excel

What about batch conversion?

If you want to convert many Excel documents in batch to PDF, there are a few additional tricks involved. Read on learn how in the rest of the article.


Setting Conversion Preferences

Acrobat makes a distinction between the settings you employ inside an application like Excel to convert to PDF (the Excel PDF Maker) and settings you use to convert in bulk via Acrobat.

Acrobat generally ignores some of the personal settings you’ve made in the PDF Maker. Instead, you’ll need to set Acrobat application preferences to get Excel file conversion to work the way you want. Here’s how:

  1. Choose Edit—> Preferences

  2. The Preferences window appears:

    Convert to Excel in Acrobat preferences
    A) Select Convert to PDF
    B) Choose Microsoft Excel
    C)Click the Edit Settings button

  3. The Edit Settings window opens:

    Edit Excel settings
    A) Choose the PDF conversion setting needed. I chose a custom setting I created.
    B) Enable "Convert entire Excel workbook"

  4. Click OK twice to exit Preferences

Converting Multiple Excel Files to PDF: Not Batch

If you have Acrobat Standard, you can convert multiple Excel files to PDF. The limitation is that they all need to be in the same folder and output to the same folder.

  1. Quit Excel if it is already open
  2. Choose File—> Create PDF from File and open the folder containing the Excel documents. Select them all and click OK.

Acrobat will convert each Excel document to PDF and open it. You will need to individually save each PDF document at the end of the process.

Convert Multiple Excel Files to PDF using Convert Multiple

In Acrobat 9 or Acrobat X, you can convert multiple Excel files from multiple locations and output them to a folder of your choice.

  1. Quit Excel if it is already open.
  2. Choose File> Create PDF> Batch Create Multiple Files
  3. In the Batch Create Multiple Files window, click the Add Files button and choose whether you want to process individual files or Folders, Click OK.
  4. The Batch Create options window opens. Here you can set where the resulting PDFs will be created and even add a prefix or suffix to the file names. Click OK and the processing will begin.

True Batch Conversion of Excel to PDF

If you have Acrobat Pro, you can take advantage of batch sequences to automate the conversion process.

Using Batch Sequences (or Actions in Acrobat X) you can open Excel files (or other supported file types) from the originating location and save a PDF version to the same location. You may also specify a number of operations to be made to a file. The following section describes how to build a very simple sequence.

Organizing and Getting Ready : The steps below presume that you will put all of the Excel files you wish to convert into a single folder. The Batch Sequence you build will allow Acrobat to convert any documents found within the folder, even if they are located in sub-folders.

Worksheet Print Settings: You may also want to take a look at your Excel documents to make sure the margins and print orientation is set as desired. It’s a good idea to set portrait/landscape printing as needed. Acrobat cannot make this change for you.

To create a Batch Process to convert many text files, follow these steps:

  1. Choose Advanced—>Document Processing—>Batch Processing
  2. Click the New Sequence button. Name the sequence and click OK.
  3. The Edit Batch Sequence window will appear:


    (A) Set Run Commands on "Selected Folder" . Then click the Browse button and locate the folder containing your source Excel files

    (B) Click the Source File Options button. This window allows you to choose which types of files will be converted.

By default, any of the types of files listed will be converted to PDF. If you only wanted to convert the Excel files found in the source folder, only select Microsoft Excel.

(C) Select the output location for the resulting PDFs. Choose Specific Folder from the list and click the Browse button to locate an output folder

(D) Clickthe Output Options button. This window allows you to rename the file after conversion to PDF. In the example below, I added a suffix to the file name.

Click OK twice.

Running the Batch Excel Conversion Sequence

To run the batch sequence, follow the steps below.

  1. Choose Advanced—>Document Processing—>Batch Processing
  2. The Batch Sequence Window appears:

    Run the batch sequence

A) Choose a sequence from the list on the right

B) Click the Run Sequence Button

Further Considerations

Batch Sequences may also be used to create Headers and Footers that number pages, add watermarks and much more.

After creating a batch sequence, click the Select Commands button.

Select Commands to add more options

You can then choose from many different commands (on the left) and add them to the list on the right.

Converting Multiple Excel Files to a Single PDF

This is easy to do in both Acrobat 8 and 9, Standard or Pro!

Choose File—>Combine—> Merge Files into a Single PDF

The window allows you to select many types of files and even select a set of worksheets from individual documents.

Combine Fiels

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