Inserting a PDF into Visio is a very quick way to add a floor plan into the drawing. The problem with PDF is that the quality is degraded when it is added into Visio. It is often so degraded that it becomes unusable. There must be a solution for this, and the good news is, there is! Read on.

First, let’s take a quick look on some need-to-know information. Floor plans in PDF can be divided in two “types”: Simple and Complex.

  • Simple floor plans are composed of straight lines, no text, and are usually clean floor plans (no furniture, notations, etc.). These floor plans are not affected by quality degradation when inserted into Visio and should be chosen when available or possible. Please note that, technically, they are affected by quality degradation, but it can’t be noticed due to the simplistic nature of the floor plan.
  • Complex floor plans don’t fit in the above description (i.e. curved lines, text, and a lot of details). These floor plans becomes pretty much unusable when inserted in Visio.

Why? This occurs because PDF is composed of both vectors and fixed resolution images. Vectors will “re-draw” as the user zoom in or out. Fixed definition images loose the resolution when zoomed in. When a PDF is inserted into Visio, all vectors also become a fixed resolution image, and the whole PDF while inserted into Visio behaves as an image object. If the image is composed of straight lines only, you will not notice the low quality, however, you will notice the low quality on a curved line, or on a text.

Previously Presented Solutions:

All of the above is not new news, and has been extensively documented on other posts and on our Support Wiki, as well as on other websites. We recommend users to insert a the image as a CAD drawing instead of PDF. Here is a good article on this:

I still agree the solution presented on the link above is the “most” proper solution, however, if you were not successful in importing a CAD drawing (for any reason) and a requirement of your project is to have a high quality floor plan, then here is a  work around.

Pro-Tip Work-Around: Import your PDF in sections and merging them inside of Visio.

Dividing your floor plan in quadrants has shown good results as the quality is increased 4 times. You may find necessary to breakdown into more sections, but a good starting point of 4 sections is recommended.

Before start following the instructions, make sure D-Tools is opened, your project is checked out and the Visio drawing of the project is opened.

1. Open the PDF floor plan on Adobe Reader (free software) and analyze the drawing. Make four imaginary quadrant sections and use some feature in the drawing (like a wall, furniture, notation) the limit for each quadrant. It is important to consider the overlap as it makes easier to re-size and re-align each image inside of Visio. Here is an illustrated image of a floor plan divided in quadrants:



The above image has “imaginary” red lines. This is just a visualization on how the sections will be divided.


2. Go to “Read Mode” in Adobe PDF Reader.

3. Zoom in into one of the quadrants, leaving some room around the overlay section. I used 290% zoom for this instructions.

4. Click on “Take a Snapshot” and highlight the quadrant + overlay section as shown below:



5. Select the area to be copied:


6. In Visio, right-click and “Paste” (or Ctrl + V).

7. Re-size and drag the image to the corresponding area into the Visio page.



8. Repeat steps 3 through 7 with the additional quadrants

9. Align the quadrants by adjusting their size on the overlay section as shown below:





10. After all sections have been adjusted and lined up, select all four PDF images in Visio and group them so they behave as a single image obejct.

You now have a high definition PDF image!