PDF: Corrupted image and lost links

January 16, 2013

A work colleague called me. She’d discovered that an image in the Word document she was creating a PDF from was corrupted in the resulting PDF. She tried creating the PDF using the PDF/A setting and that worked to a degree — the image was now OK, but she’d lost all her clickable links (Table of Contents, cross-references, etc.). She needed both an uncorrupted image AND clickable links, but couldn’t get both using the ‘save as PDF’ option in Word 2007.

I remembered this document — there were a couple of images in the document that weren’t really images; they were linked Visio objects. And the ‘corrupted’ image was one of these. I suspected that’s where the corruption was coming from, especially as she told me in her phone call that she’d saved the document to her desktop for the purposes of PDF’ing it (the document and the Visio diagram normally live in the client’s SharePoint site); that made me think that the link to the Visio diagram got broken in the process of creating the PDF.

I got her to save the document under a different name (just so she didn’t mess up the one she already had), then got her to copy the (Visio) image and paste it as a picture, then remove the original Visio image. Next I got her to try saving it as a PDF as normal (i.e. not PDF/A), and everything worked! The image was no longer corrupted and all her links worked.

Finally, I suggested that she speak to the author of the document to see if he really needed the linked Visio diagram — if it was unlikely to change, a static image (like the one she’d just created) would appear to be the same and wouldn’t corrupt in the PDF creation process; however, it wouldn’t be able to be edited from within the Word document.

As an aside, it’s likely she wouldn’t have had this issue if she had PDF’ed the document from within SharePoint as the links would have worked correctly. By copying the document to her desktop, it’s likely that those links got broken.

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