CAD to PDF Is Blurry


Regardless of which computer-aided drafting, or CAD, program you use to draw designs for anything from auto parts to buildings, you eventually need to share your work with others. Unlike word-processing software or Web browsers, you won't find CAD software on every computer user's desktop. To present your drawings for review by colleagues, you can export your CAD file in the Portable Document Format, or PDF. If your PDF files look blurry when you review them in Adobe Reader or another PDF-compatible application, check your CAD files and your export process for possible causes.

Document Contains Bitmaps

  • Today's CAD software allows you to incorporate bitmaps into your work, including TIFF, JPEG and PNG files. These images can appear blurry in your PDF export for three reasons. First, they may have been created at a low resolution. Second, you may have enlarged them in your CAD file, effectively treating them as larger, lower-resolution documents. Third, you may have set your PDF export process to reduce, or downsample, the resolution of your bitmaps. Check your bitmaps before you use them to verify their suitability and use export settings that create usable output.

Rasterizing Plotter Driver

  • If you use a plotter driver to export your files, the driver software may rasterize your entire drawing, turning its crisp lines and text into pixels. Depending on the resolution at which you create your exported file, you may see blurriness, especially when you zoom in to view the details of your drawing closely. When you use a PDF export process that preserves your CAD elements as strokes and text, you avoid these problems altogether. Choose an export process that doesn't convert your file to pixels.

Outdated Software

  • If you're using a CAD software version that contains a bug in its PDF export functions, you may be unable to create satisfactory PDF files. Visit the website of the company that makes your CAD package and check for user reports of the problem you're experiencing. At the same time, look for software updates that address the problem. Once you download and apply relevant updates, you should be able to export satisfactory files.

PDF Zoom Level

  • Depending on the software you use to view Acrobat files and the zoom level at which you're examining your work, you may see distortion in onscreen image clarity. Lines that should appear equal in stroke weight may vary in thickness. Curves may seem jagged. Some of these onscreen phenomena can result from the zoom level at which you view your work. Set your zoom to a multiple of 100 percent and reexamine your document. If the problem goes away, your apparent blurriness resulted from the settings at which you looked at your file, not a defect in the document itself.


  • Photo Credit Jupiterimages/Pixland/Getty Images
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