Visio: Fuzzy text, part two

August 31, 2010

Last month I wrote about how to save a Visio diagram so that the text remained crisp. The bottom line was to save the image with a 600 dpi printer setting.

That was the ‘quick and dirty’ version. Since then, I’ve done some more testing using a flowchart created in Visio 2007.

My aim was to save the Visio diagram in a format that had:

  • crisp and clear text when displayed on screen in a Word 2007 and/or PDF document
  • crisp and clear text when printed on a color or black and white printer
  • a small-ish file size
  • applicability across many graphics software applications.

In other words, I wanted the best possible text quality with the smallest possible file size. And the image had to be able to be edited in commonly available graphics software.

Based on my previous experiences with graphics formats, I expected saving as PNG to give me the best of all those worlds, but the reality was a little different! GIF actually turned out the best.

Here’s part of the flowchart I used as my test piece; notice there are some drop shadows, various colors and gradients used for fills, colored connectors, and some basic flowchart shapes:

In my testing, I used my previous findings to set the DPI to 600, where that option was available. I also used an external application (Microsoft Office Picture Manager) to reduce the image size. I then tried saving the Visio diagram in various file formats suitable for a Word 2007 document. I did not test saving as a TIF, EPS, BMP etc. as the file sizes are way too big — I limited my testing to GIF, JPG, PNG, EMF, and PDF (then further cropped and saved to PNG, GIF and JPG from the PDF).

My test results showed that saving as GIF at 600 dpi, then reducing the image size to 25% and inserting the image into Word gave me the best results that met all my criteria. Here’s a summary (click on the image to see it full size):

Some notes:

  • EMF was a distinct possibility until I found that it can’t be read/edited by many graphics software applications. This was a limiting factor — the file format needs to be as versatile as possible.
  • Any format that had a saved size greater than 1 MB was eliminated. My client has very large Word documents with many diagrams in each. If each diagram or figure is greater than 1 MB, the file size blows out dramatically (one of the Word docs I’ve had to work on is more than 150 MB!).
  • Fuzzy text (on screen or in print) was a no-no, and formats/resizes that made the text fuzzy were eliminated.
  • When I did my final assessment, I looked at all those that got a GOOD rating, then compared their file sizes. I then chose the GOOD one that had the smallest file size — GIF, at 600 dpi, reduced to 25%, with a saved file size of 204 KB.

Please note: These tests were done on a single flowchart from my client. I cannot guarantee that my recommended result will suit your Visio diagrams.

Below are the instructions for my recommended method for saving these types of Visio flowcharts.

To save the Visio diagram as a GIF (no top/bottom text)

  1. Click and drag your cursor around all objects, except the top and bottom text objects. A green ‘border’ should surround the selected objects.
  2. From the menu, select File > Save As.
  3. Select Graphics Interchange Format (GIF) as the file type.
  4. Click Save.
  5. On the GIF Output Options window, go to the Resolution section and select Printer (this changes the dpi to 600). Don’t change anything else on this window.
  6. Click OK.
  7. Insert the image into the Word document OR resize it (see below) then insert it.

To resize an image using Microsoft Office Picture Manager

  1. In Explorer, right-click on the image’s file name.
  2. Select Open With, then Microsoft Office Picture Manager.
  3. In Picture Manager, select Picture > Resize.
  4. Select the Percentage option in the task pane.
  5. Change the size to a lower value (e.g. 75%, 50%, 25%). Don’t go lower than 20% otherwise the image becomes fuzzy.
  6. Click OK.
  7. From the menu, select File > Save As.
  8. Give the resized file a new name — don’t overwrite the original!
  9. Close Picture Manager — you may be warned that you haven’t saved your changes (you have!). Click Don’t Save.

(You can use any graphics editor you have — I was limited to Picture Manager on the machine where I was doing this testing. Picture Manager works fine, but you may have graphics software that you’re more familiar with or that’s more powerful — if so, use that.)


  1. […] For more details on saving flowcharts as an image, see this updated blog post: https://cybertext.wordpress.com/2010/08/31/visio-fuzzy-text-part-two/ […]

  2. In my experience, GIFs are golden! Since CompuServe created the Graphics Interface Format to be the first file format for displaying graphics online, every graphics-producing applications created since then has included GIF as a Read/Save As, and/or Import/Export option to provide compatibility with other programs. Every graphics program I’ve used, including Visio, CorelDraw, and a couple of CAD programs, could produce GIFs, and scale them appropriately. The resulting GIFs were also handled by various versions of Word (including on a Mac), WordPerfect, FrameMaker, PageMaker, and InDesign.

  3. Another great user guide from Cybertext, keep them coming

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