“HOW did my file get so messed up?!”

by | Oct 2, 2019

Whether you’re a business owner, a job seeker sending out résumés, or a writer trying to break into the ‘big time,’ you will appreciate this post.

This information isn’t hidden away in a vault.

You don’t need a government clearance to read it.

But, sometimes … we just … miss something important.

For example: how NOT to mutilate files we email to someone.

Here’s an idea that flies so far under the radar, it’s easy to overlook.
(You should see some of the things I used to email to people. Sheesh!)

It comes with its own
“OH! how could I not have considered this?” moment

Good news! This problem is easily solved!

The computer gods gave us a break on this one. <wink, wink>

This example is for MSOffice® and Windows®. Any steps or features mentioned should be available, in some form, with other software.

How can it go so-o-o wrong?

Like me, you probably create project proposals – or other types of business-y documents – within office suite software.

The completed files are emailed, and they must be perfect when your recipient opens them.


You tweaked it for days …
… and f-i-n-a-l-l-y got up the nerve to press SEND.

But that was two weeks ago.

You haven’t heard a peep from the potential client.

The culprit?

You emailed your proposal in a word processor format.

“What?! What’s wrong with that?!”

When the project manager opened it, your work fell apart.

The margins were all over the place.

The bullets misaligned.

Your professional two-page work of art … became an amateurish three-pager with a huge gap in the middle.

The busy manager dumped your file.

Bye, bye lucrative project

"HOW did my file get so messed up?!"

“HOW did my file get so messed up?!”

Here’s what happened

The manager’s printer set-up destroyed your proposal

This possibility hadn’t occurred to me until someone explained it.

The instant a file opens on a different computer, that printer’s coding takes over. It can mess up your work, big time.

The new printer may not recognize a font.

Or it may format spacing and page breaks differently.

The set-up does its best, but it may not translate everything well.

Even if problems are minimal, the document just. doesn’t. look. right.

It certainly doesn’t look professional.

Here’s how to fix it

These step-by-step instructions – depending on your suite of software products – should work for almost all your applications.

I use this process for Word®, Excel®, and PowerPoint®.

Yes! Really! Not just a word processor!

Freeze the file

For it to appear e-x-a-c-t-l-y the same at its destination as it does on your screen, you must ‘freeze’ your file as a PDF (portable document format).

Then, it isn’t altered when it’s opened on someone else’s computer.

Here’s an easy way to create a PDF and ‘wrap’ your fragile electronic parcels for emailing:

1. Open the file (document, spreadsheet, presentation, etc.).
2. Use the Save As option.
3. Select PDF on the Save as Type drop-down list.
4. Email the PDF to yourself on a trial run.
5. Review the copy arriving in your Inbox (not your SENT folder. You need to see what went through cyberspace).

Always email a copy (I use bcc) of the official ‘send’ to yourself.
Review the copy in your inbox.
As with #5 above, this shows you what your client received.

For critical work

If I have a critical file, I email the PDF to a couple of friends and ask them to open it. Do they see any issues?

I do this because they have a different:

• Computer.
• Printer.
• Internet provider (or received the file through a different server).


Two identical-looking files

Two identical-looking files

Now you have …

… two identical-looking documents on your computer: 

      • Your original file
      • A copy ‘frozen’ into a PDF (which looks the way it does because of your printer setup).

Except for irregularities we all seem to find with our iPads or tablets, our PDF usually looks great wherever it lands.

The best part?

The recipient doesn’t need a copy of the original application, because they are opening a snapshot saved in a portable document format (PDF).

Join the Conversation:

Do you have a “People should know about this …” time-saving writing tool?
Please use one of these items to tell your story, or bring your own:

• How did you discover it?
• Tell us about your success with the tool.
• What new writing gizmo (:->) would you like someone to create?

Please share this post, subscribe* (see the box below my photo) so you won’t miss next month’s offering, and join the conversation in the comments section.

*I promise: no inbox stuffing or sharing your information.

Let’s all learn from each other!

Thanks for stopping by. I know you’re busy, and I appreciate your time.
Feel free to email me if you have questions about this post, or need a quick chat about your tech or text project. Nooo invoice!

Email Kathie


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Kathie York, CSQE
Queen of Non-Overwhelm
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