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Creating PNGs from Illustrator

We all get this question as designers: “Can you provide us with a copy of the logo or masterhead design in a format that we can use in Microsoft Word”… or “PowerPoint”?

Illustrator CS, released back in 2003, introduced the Save for Microsoft Office command. (File menu), which converts your Illustrator artwork to a 150ppi Portable Network Graphic (.png).

File menu in Adobe Illustrator with arrow pointing at Save for Microsoft Office command.

Funnily enough this command is very often overlooked by designers. Yet it provides a pretty clean image result for use in Microsoft Office.

Logo artwork Illustrator (left) and with transparency displayed (right)

Illustrator artwork (left), and with Transparency view enabled (right).

Although the generated PNG graphic certainly works nicely with Microsoft Office applications, it does have some limitations:

  • especially for graphics containing smaller text or finer details, the detail can get lost a little.
  • the PNG file that is created does not contain any transparency.

Which is why I often use Illustrator’s File > Export command. This command can also convert your Illustrator artwork to a PNG file.

PNG Options dialog

It has an added bonus in that it provides you with the ability to retain background transparency and control image resolution. Increasing the resolution can result in better looking text once the graphic is inserted into your Microsoft Office application.

Left logo without transparency, right logo with transparency, displayed in Microsoft PowerPoint.

The graphic above shows you the comparison once the artwork is inserted into PowerPoint.

  • Left: the Save for Microsoft Office Result, which generates the white background
  • Right: the File > Export result, at a slightly higher resolution, displays a little crisper and retains transparency.

The advantage of using PNG over JPEG when generating graphics for use in Microsoft Office is that a) PNG supports transparency (JPEG does not), and b) PNG is more suited for graphics that contain a limited number of colours or text, such as logos.

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  1. Me Me
    December 7, 2011    

    There is also the ‘Save for Web & Devices’ command which gives further controls to the output.

    • December 19, 2011    

      That’s true 🙂

      However that command I think always generates 72ppi graphics (?), which is why I really only use it when preparing web/device graphics 😉 Must admit I’ve not tested that that is still the case, but just assuming it is 😉

  2. Lena Lena
    July 29, 2011    

    Thanks for your help. This is exactly the information I needed – very clear too!

  3. June 16, 2011    


    I’m going to have to disagree with you on using WMF and EMF as preferred formats for the purpose of recoloring and ungrouping to be honest.

    A graphic designer who’s paid for his/her expert designs would not like to see their artwork recolored or ungrouped.

    Especially when it concerns logos that are part of a company’s branding. Generally there are very strict rules on how they may be used, editing logos generally is a no-no.

  4. bluekdesign bluekdesign
    June 16, 2011    

    In many cases, exporting to WMF or EMF is preferable. These metafile formats can be scaled, recolored, and ungrouped within Office.

    Also, I prefer File > Export because it supports pasteboards. Save for Office does not.

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