Why Do I Lose Bullets When Converting Word to PDF?

By Terry Lavender

Microsoft Word bullets may not convert properly to PDF format.
i keyboard image by Fyerne from Fotolia.com

Saving a Word document in PDF format is a relatively straightforward process. But special characters like bullets may cause problems because sometimes they are not part of the same font as the rest of the text.

Bullets in Word

Bullets in Microsoft Word may be part of the same font as the rest of the text, or they might be part of a special symbol font. If you use the default bullet (which looks like a large period) it will be part of your body text font. But if you select a special font (such as a hollow box or check mark), Word will use a symbol font.

Converting to PDF

When you convert your document to PDF format, the fonts you use will usually be included (or embedded) in the PDF. But if you use graphical bullets, there might be problems in converting them. For example, the font used for the bullets may be corrupted or be missing from your computer. Or the "embed all fonts" option may have been turned off.


The easiest way to ensure your bullets appear in your PDF is to use text bullets, not graphic bullets in your Word document. If you need fancy bullets, make sure that "Embed Fonts" is selected in the Adobe PDF/Change Conversion Settings/Advanced Settings dialogue in Word.