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I've been having a devil of a time getting Inkscape to export PDFs cleanly and there don't seem to be very many answers out there on all the various wikis and tutorials. In particular, transparencies are a bit of a crap-shoot - sometimes the transparency will disappear and sometimes it'll be made into a solid block.

I've tried fiddling with the save-as-PDF settings in Inkscape and I've tried printing to a PDF using CutePDF with less than satisfactory results. Is there some method of exporting my file - or some method of creating my file - that I can use to get predictable results?

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Hopefully, @DA01 will chip in here. He's deeply familiar with Inkscape. – Alan Gilbertson Feb 9 '12 at 21:45
I wouldn't say deeply...but I am a fan of it. I don't know the answer but my guess would be that SVG and PDF are simply different file formats and support different parts of each specification. There's a lot you can do with SVG in terms of transparency, blur, blending and the like and I'm assuming PDF simply isn't supporting that yet. You may have to run the SVG through Adobe Illustrator first in hopes that AI will convert it to a format the PDF will be happy with. – DA01 Feb 9 '12 at 23:41
Inkscape has gone through a few updates since this question was asked. I'd be curious to know where this situation stands now, and if there are specific parts of the SVG to PDF conversion that are still problematic. – Scribblemacher Sep 2 '15 at 13:43

12 Answers 12

Are you trying to export to .PDF to keep the editing capabilities? Otherwise, if you're trying to share an image with someone from Inkscape, save it as a .JPG or .PNG (if a translucent background is needed).

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In the past, trying to save as a PNG/jpeg reduced the physical size and resolution of the image remarkably. Perhaps I'm just doing it wrong? – Zelbinian Feb 9 '12 at 20:47
Do you have the latest version of Inkscape downloaded? – kamalo Feb 9 '12 at 21:30
@Zelbinian, an SVG has no inherent size or resolution. It is only when you want to export as a PNG that Inkscape would ask for a size. Specify this to be as large as you want. – Abhranil Das Mar 18 '12 at 9:46
Changing a vector image to a raster image will definitely not maintain (other aspects of) the integrity of the image. – Sparhawk Feb 24 '14 at 5:38

From the main menu, choose:

File → Print... → Print to File

From here you can choose to save the file as PDF, PostScript or SVG.

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On a Linux operating system, I export to PNG then use the convert tool to convert it to PDF.

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+1 This isn't a bad answer...and is, in fact, a method I've used to get around Inkscape's flaws in masking shapes (that 'explode' when converted directly to PDF). For complex SVGs that Inkscape can't fully turn into a PDF, rasterizing is a viable workaround sometimes. – DA01 Jul 14 '13 at 16:26

I love using Inkscape to draw - it is much more intuitive than Illustrator and produces very professional results.

I used Inkscape to prepare figures for publication, however, and had significant difficulty exporting the figures with publication quality settings. Saving files as .eps did not properly embed my fonts and .pdf did not allow me to save with press quality. (I am using Windows XP and Inkscape Version 0.48.4.)

To get around this, I followed the directions for producing press quality figures found at

Click on "PC Applications PDF Creation Guide".

These step by step instructions show you how to print to a pdf with embedded text and press quality settings.

I did have difficulty printing to pdf for some of my larger figures (only random portions of my figure would end up in the pdf, which was very frustrating!). To circumvent this problem I grouped all aspects of my Inkscape figure and shrank down the overall size. For some reason this worked really well and I obtained nice looking pdfs for these figures.

Another option is to cut the figure in half (if possible) and print two pdfs. These can be combined in Adobe Acrobat Professional (older versions are available for download at

Click on "Create PDF" Choose "From Multiple Files" and select the pdfs you want to combine. These will show up as individual pages in the pdf document. To combine them to a single page go to "File - Print" Under "Page Handling" change "Page Scaling" to "Multiple pages per sheet" Then you can customize how many pages you want per sheet. Click OK and your two pdfs will now be combined into a single page.

I hope this information is of help to those of you with strict requirements for publication quality figures.

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Inkscape (v.0.91) supports command-line options, and that is how I prefer to do it:

inkscape --file=mySVGinputFile.svg --export-area-drawing --without-gui --export-pdf=output.pdf

This is actually the command that LyX uses to prepare SVG images for use in LaTeX. I have used PlantUML to generate SVG, which then goes into PDF.

Here's a screenshot of the SVG in inkscape, which has pure vectorial representation (including fonts).

SVG in inkscape

Here's a screenshot of the PDF zoomed in, with a selection of the text "oo" from the word loop, showing that it's still text in the PDF:

PDF in Acrobat

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Actually this has been asked and answered here for linux users.

You need to install librsvg2-bin. I'll just add that you will need to fit page to your svg otherwise it will be truncated. Within Inkscape: File -> Document properties -> Select your svg objects -> fit page to selection.

Then just run:

rsvg-convert -f pdf in.svg > out.pdf
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This is, by far, the best answer: only one that worked! – Werner Feb 13 at 3:39

It’s been years since I had any problems with transparency of Inkscape-generated PDFs and if I had, those turned out to be a problem of the PDF viewer (or in one case: of an esoteric printer), not of Inkscape. Thus I would say that using a new version of Inkscape should fix such issues.

That being said, since Inkscape 0.47 (from 2009), there is the option Rasterise Filter Effects for PDF export, which should rasterise all those filters (for example blur) that are not supported by the PDF format and keep everything else vectorised.

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  1. Print
  2. Select Bitmap in the Rendering tab and choose the desired resolution.
  3. Select your PDF printer in the General tab.
  4. Print.
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It is very simple. Save your file/selection as pdf.

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Which version? Has it changed? See answer of user 14047 and the comment of DA01 ... – Kurt Oct 1 '15 at 12:32
This answer doesn't address the question. The user's problem isn't that they don't know how to export a PDF from Inkscape, it's that the results are not satisfactory. – Scribblemacher Oct 1 '15 at 13:42

I am using Inkscape and routinely store SVGs into PDF. Stay away from filters, and opaque settings as PDFs (or should I say InkScapes export to PDF) does not handle this feature very well.

I instead use color scales instead of opaque levels to soften colors directly on the palette and avoid the filters altogether. I know this is cumbersome and limits your abilities of what you can do. But exports looks fine if I follow these rules.

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If you have FoxIt Reader installed, then you can just

  1. FIle -> Print (Ctrl+P)
  2. Choose "FoxIt reader PDF printer" to export file as a pdf.
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Try using the Snipping tool that comes with Windows 7. If it's not already pinned to your task bar you will find it under,All Programs,Accessories. Looks like a pair of scissors. That will save it as a jpeg, then open the jpeg and print with the cute PDF.

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This probably isn't the solution Zelbinian is looking for; exporting to PDF would imply that vector objects are maintained. As the other answer pointed out, you could just export the file as a JPG anyway, taking a screenshot would be an inferior method in this case – JohnB Jan 28 '13 at 20:02

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