Problem: Excel table colors in the layout view are lost when exported to PDF


Occasionally after copying and pasting an Excel table to the layout view of ArcMap, the colors of the table are not reflected when the map document is exported to PDF. For example the images below show an Excel table with color when viewed in the layout view of ArcMap on the left, and the same Excel table without color when viewed after the map document is exported to PDF.
Excel table in the layout view in ArcMap (left) and exported to PDF (right)


This is a known limitation as ArcMap uses the Microsoft Graphics Device Interface (GDI) for drawing to screen, to printer, and to map exports. When exporting to a graphical interchange format, such as PDF or JPEG, ArcMap uses information from Windows' default printer; therefore the default printer affects the accuracy and appearance of the exports.

This issue also occurs when exporting the map document with the Map Page Size of A1 or A0. For more information on Map Page Size, refer to ArcGIS Help: About map printing.

Solution or Workaround

To resolve this issue, use one of the following methods:

  • Use ArcGIS Pro if available
This issue is resolved in ArcGIS Pro as it does not rely on the Microsoft GDI, but uses a high-performance drawing engine to achieve better performance and drawing quality. It is recommended to use ArcGIS Pro for printing and exporting, since ArcGIS Pro does not experience the issues caused by the limitations of the ArcMap display engine.
  • Insert the Excel table in the map document
Insert the Excel table as an object into the map document instead of copying and pasting the Excel table. To do so:
  1. Open the map document in ArcMap.
  2. Navigate to Insert > Object.
  3. In the Insert Object dialog window, check Create from File.
    Screenshot of the Insert Object dialog window with Create from File highlighted.
  4. Click the Browse button and select the Excel file with the table. Click OK in the Insert Object dialog window.
  5. Export the map document to PDF.
  • Use a different Map Page Size
Before exporting the map document to PDF, change the Map Page Size of the map document by the following steps:
  1. Open the map document in ArcMap.
  2. Navigate to File > Page and Print Setup.
  3. In the Page and Print Setup dialog window, select an option under Standard Sizes other than A1 or A0.
    Screenshot of the Map Page Size Standard Sizes
  4. Export the map document to PDF.

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