My organization has one user who recently has noticed very large pdf files being exported from her mxds. When I recreate and do the export, I am getting a 4mb file (normal). When she exports the file we are seeing a 2.4 GB file. I changed some settings and was able to get it down to 1GB, but that wasn't satisfactory (obviously).

Things we have recently tried:

-Deleted the normal.mxt (reduced pdf size to 100mb)

-Turned off the setting that saves the spatial information in the pdf

-DPI is at 300

It isn't an overly large mxd. Normal vector data with some labeling. The pdf size is 42" x 60".

Any ideas on what to try next? She is on an ArcEditor 9.3.1 license.

  • Have you reviewed this ArcGIS Discussion Forum thread?
    – PolyGeo
    Commented Aug 29, 2013 at 12:50
  • PolyGeo'slink is good. It may not mention one other cause of large pdf file size: the output image quality/resample size. Set it to normal. Here's a link to something that might help you find the cause of rasterization: support.esri.com/en/knowledgebase/techarticles/detail/29935.
    – John
    Commented Aug 29, 2013 at 14:04
  • Is it just on this particular machine? When someone else does the same export on a different machine do they still get a large file? Commented Aug 29, 2013 at 14:24
  • just this machine. She sent me the mxd and I exported it at 4mb vs her 2.4 gb. No other users have had this issue.
    – Craig
    Commented Aug 29, 2013 at 14:37
  • Is "compress vectors" turned on in the export options? Also, try export to PNG and see if that is better. Commented Oct 17, 2013 at 20:42

2 Answers 2


I have had a similar problem where exported PDF would be larger than should be considering the data. In the Export window, I went to the Format tab and changed the Picture Symbol to Vectorize and in the Advance tab I changed the Layers and Attributes drop down to None. Things that used to be in the 50 Megabyte range were now under a Megabyte.

  • This worked for me as well and I am using Arc 10.2
    – TsvGis
    Commented Apr 28, 2015 at 6:57

Transparency of the layer also affects the size of the PDF considerably. I suggest use transparency to a minimum, or avoid it if you can.

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