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PDF Creator for Excel does not use standard paper sizes. Instead, it always defines a custom paper size each time you create a PDF according to the size of the content.

Standard paper sizes are handy when you want to print hard copies. On the other hand, if the PDF file is created for sharing the digital version only, it is not necessary to follow the size limitations of standard papers. This is especially true if the content is a diagram, chart, banner, or poster.

Excel (Office) supports two types of fixed document, XPS format and PDF format, both are implemented as a virtual printer, and both allow to scale the content when generating a fixed document. For example, when you choose PDF format, Excel offers the following scaling options: "No Scaling", "Fit Sheet on One Page", "Fit All Columns on One Page", "Fit All Rows on One Page".

These scaling options are handy when the sizes (width and height) of the content meet the standard paper size closely. If it doesn't and you still apply one of the scaling options on generating PDFs, you may notice obvious distortion from the result. This is something not avoidable when the content is scaling down, especially when you use images and shapes (text boxes, rectangles etc.) along with Excel cells.

Here is a simple example (Download the Excel file and PDF file of this example).

  1. First, insert a rectangle into a cell, make sure it is on the center of the cell. Excel sheet for testing scaling
  2. Click Excel menu "File" and then "Print", choose "Microsoft Print to PDF".
  3. Expand the options for scaling and choose "Custom Scaling Options". This opens the Page Setup dialog box.
  4. Adjust it to 30% normal size.
  5. Click "OK" to close the Page Setup dialog box.
  6. Now print it to a pdf file.
  7. Open the PDF file in a PDF reader. Enlarge it. As you can see, the shape is no longer located at center of the cell. The shape isn't on the center of the cell
  8. Our test shows that the offset is related to the number of cells on the top and left side of the cell. So, if you have a large diagram, the unwanted distortion will be more noticeable.

To prevent this type of distortion, we must avoid scaling as much as possible. This, in turn, requires a custom paper size defined for the content.