PDF Export

This help article discuss different techniques which allow you to modify RadGrid when exporting to PDF.Following is a list with the content of this article.

Note that RadGrid will render as an XHTML table and will convert that table to a PDF document. That requires that the rendered grid output is valid XHTML. If it is not, you will receive an exception that the export cannot be completed.
The most common cause for bad XHTML are symbols like < , > , & that need to be replaced by the correct XHTML entity: & l t ; , & g t ; , & a m p ; respectively. Another frequent problem are unclosed tags.

PDF specific settings and events

Name Description
AllowAdd / AllowCopy / AllowModify / AllowPrinting Boolean properties that determines whether the corresponding action is allowed for the generated PDF file
Author / Creator / Keywords / Producer / Subject / Title PDF document specific information
DefaultFontFamily Specifies the default font
PageTitle Sets the page title (appears on the top of the page)
PaperSize / PageWidth / PageHeight These properties are related to the size of the generated page. You can either use the PaperSize to supply a predefined value ( A4 , Letter , JIS B5 , etc) or define the size manually using PageWidth / PageHeight .
PageBottomMargin / PageTopMargin / PageLeftMargin / PageRightMargin / PageFooterMargin / PageHeaderMargin All the page margins could be controlled via these settings.
UserPassword Used to set a password and enable password protection for the exported file (introduced in UI for ASP.NET AJAX Q1 2010 SP2)
  <Pdf PageTitle="My Page" PaperSize="A4" />

The default page orientation for the PDF file is Portrait. You can easily switch to Landscape by modifying the PageWidth / PageHeight properties manually.

  • A4 Portrait : <Pdf PageWidth="210mm" PageHeight="297mm" />
  • A4 Landscape : <Pdf PageWidth="297mm" PageHeight="210mm" />

OnPdfExporting event

The reason for having separate OnPdfExporting event is that by the time the OnGridExporting event is raised, the Pdf output is already generated and ready for adding to the response. Some cases where the OnPdfExporting event is helpful when you want to modify the output - as an alternative to the OnGridExporting event.

Although you can't modify the contents on OnGridExporting, you can use this event to achieve some other tasks. For example:

  • to save the file on the server/send it via mail if needed.

  • to show the PDF file in RadWindow - there is a blog post that contains a runnable project that demonstrate this scenario


RadGrid does not export any external styles. That means that your skins will not appear in the generated file. Still, the inline styles are preserved and should be used instead. Different approaches could be used depending where RadGrid will rebind before export (when IgnorePaging is set to true or when you rebind manually).

Since UI for ASP.NET AJAX Q3 2015 we have implement a new property named IsExporting which can be used instead of the old approach with a boolean flag. The property is accessible only from the server.

bool isExport = false;
protected void Button1_Click(object sender, EventArgs e)
    isExport = true;
protected void RadGrid1_ItemCreated(object sender, GridItemEventArgs e)
    if (e.Item is GridDataItem && isExport)
        e.Item.Style["background-color"] = "#888888";
Private isExport As Boolean = FalseProtected
Sub Button1_Click(ByVal sender As Object, ByVal e As EventArgs)
    isExport = True
End Sub
Protected Sub RadGrid1_ItemCreated(ByVal sender As Object, ByVal e As GridItemEventArgs)
    If TypeOf e.Item Is GridDataItem AndAlso isExport Then
        e.Item.Style("background-color") = "#888888"
    End If
End Sub

In the cases, where Rebind won't be invoked you can apply the styles directly:

protected void Button1_Click(object sender, EventArgs e)
    foreach (GridDataItem item in RadGrid1.Items)
        item.Style["background-color"] = "#888888";
Protected Sub Button1_Click(ByVal sender As Object, ByVal e As EventArgs)
    For Each item As GridDataItem In RadGrid1.Items
        item.Style("background-color") = "#888888"
End Sub 

To center the text in the GridHeaderItem, you should set the appropriate style to each cell (TH element) instead of the whole row.

Hiding Columns

You can use the HideStructureColumns property to hide GridRowIndicatorColumn, GridExpandColumn and GridGroupSplitterColumn. For the other columns types, you can use the following approach:

protected void Button1_Click(object sender, EventArgs e)
    RadGrid1.MasterTableView.GetColumn("C2").Visible = false;
Protected Sub Button1_Click(ByVal sender As Object, ByVal e As EventArgs) Handles Button1.Click()
    RadGrid1.MasterTableView.GetColumn("C2").Visible = False
End Sub

From Q2 2013 we introduced a new property named Exportable. This property allows you to choose whether a certain column should be included in the exported file or not. By setting this property to false the related column will be excluded from the exported file. Its default value is true.

Hiding items

There are two common ways to hide an item.

  • Directly - in the button handler when exporting from a button or on ItemCommand when exporting from the built-in buttons
protected void RadGrid1_ItemCommand(object source, GridCommandEventArgs e)
    if (e.CommandName == RadGrid.ExportToPdfCommandName)
        RadGrid1.MasterTableView.Items[2].Visible = false;
Protected Sub RadGrid1_ItemCommand(ByVal source As Object, ByVal e As GridCommandEventArgs) Handles RadGrid1.ItemCommand
    If e.CommandName = RadGrid.ExportToPdfCommandName Then
        RadGrid1.MasterTableView.Items(2).Visible = False
    End If
End Sub
protected void Button1_Click(object sender, EventArgs e)
    RadGrid1.MasterTableView.Items[2].Visible = false;
Protected Sub Button1_Click(ByVal sender As Object, ByVal e As EventArgs) Handles Button1.Click
    RadGrid1.MasterTableView.Items(2).Visible = False
End Sub
  • On ItemCreated / ItemDataBound - this approach should be used when IgnorePaging="true" or when you call RadGrid.Rebind before exporting.
bool isPdfExport = false;
protected void RadGrid1_ItemCommand(object source, GridCommandEventArgs e)
    if (e.CommandName == RadGrid.ExportToPdfCommandName)
        isPdfExport = true;
protected void RadGrid1_ItemCreated(object sender, GridItemEventArgs e)
    if (isPdfExport && e.Item.ItemIndex == 2)
        e.Item.Visible = false;
Private isPdfExport As Boolean = FalseProtected
Sub RadGrid1_ItemCommand(ByVal source As Object, ByVal e As GridCommandEventArgs)
    If e.CommandName = RadGrid.ExportToPdfCommandName Then
        isPdfExport = True
    End If
End Sub
Protected Sub RadGrid1_ItemCreated(ByVal sender As Object, ByVal e As GridItemEventArgs)
    If isPdfExport AndAlso e.Item.ItemIndex = 2 Then
        e.Item.Visible = False
    End If
End Sub

Border support

By setting BorderType, BorderStyle and BorderColor properties you could customize the look of the grid's border into the exported file. They could be set to ExportSettings-Pdf.

BorderType determines the border type that will be applied to the exported PDF file. The supported values are: Separate, NoBorder, OuterBorders, AllBorders. The selected border type will be applied for both flat and hierarchical RadGrids. Note that the Separate value is left to avoid breaking changes and also because of the fact that this functionality has a minor performance impact. When the BorderType is set to Separate, the BorderColor, and the BorderStyle properties will have no effect.

BorderStyle determines the style of the borders that will be applied to the exported PDF file.The supported values: Medium, Thick, Thin. Its default value is Medium.

And the last property BorderColor determines the color of the borders that will be applied to the exported PDF file. It supports all color from Drawing.Color collection. Black is the default color.

Additionally when Separate border type is used the following statements are applicable.

You can disable the RadGrid borders by settings the BorderStyle or GridLines properties - either in code-behind or in the markup.

RadGrid1.BorderStyle = BorderStyle.None;
RadGrid1.BorderStyle = BorderStyle.None

If you apply the same approach to the MasterTableView (or other GridTableView) you will remove the outer table border only - when combined with the above mentioned approach you can hide all borders in RadGrid.

RadGrid1.MasterTableView.BorderStyle = BorderStyle.None;
RadGrid1.MasterTableView.BorderStyle = BorderStyle.None

Fonts / Unicode support

RadGrid's PDF exporting engine supports all languages that use left-to-right orientation when the appropriate Unicode font is set. Live demo that exports Japanese characters is available online. The most common international font is Arial Unicode MS because it covers all Unicode characters. Of course, you can use other language-specific fonts as Batang for Korean, SimSun for Chinese, MS Mincho for Japanese and etc.

The default font of the generated pages is specified by the DefaultFontFamily property:

    <Pdf DefaultFontFamily="Arial Unicode MS" />

Also, you can dynamically set fonts to the row elements in the same manner used to set background-colors:

item["OriginalName"].Style["font-family"] = "Arial Unicode MS";
item("OriginalName").Style("font-family") = "Arial Unicode MS"

Exporting HTML tables

There are a few rules that should be followed when exporting HTML tables to PDF:

  • The table should define <colgroup> and <col> elements

  • The number of col elements should be equal to the number of the columns in the table body

  • Width in pixels (or another absolute units) should be set to the table

<table width="300px">
    <col />
    <col />

Exporting images / using third-party image-processing tools

Our PDF engine can export all images nevertheless whether they use an absolute or relative path. The image can be stored on the local server or remotely. When using third-party image-processing tools like ImageResizer.dll or similar modules that use HttpHandlers and accept parameters via query strings, you should provide an absolute path to the resized image, otherwise RadGrid won't be able to find the image and will throw an error. Transparency is not supported.

You can use the following approach if you need to set a background image to your GridTableViews:

In order to export images that are spanned over multiple columns you should invoke PrepareItemStyle on the corresponding grid item. OurPDF exportdemo uses the depicted approach.

Resizing columns

There are two ways to resize the columns - declarative (in the markup) and programmatic (in code-behind). The first one involves the HeaderStyle property:

<telerik:GridBoundColumn DataField="ID">
  <HeaderStyle width="20px" />

It is also possible to set the widths dynamically - Page_PreRender event is suitable for this functionality:

protected void Page_PreRender(object o, EventArgs e)
    GridColumn column = RadGrid1.MasterTableView.GetColumn("MyColumnName");
    column.HeaderStyle.Width = Unit.Pixel(300);
Protected Sub Page_PreRender(ByVal o As Object, ByVal e As EventArgs)
    Dim column As GridColumn = RadGrid1.MasterTableView.GetColumn("MyColumnName")
    column.HeaderStyle.Width = Unit.Pixel(300)
End Sub

If you want the changes to be applied to the exported file only, you can use a boolean flag to distinguish whether the event is fired as a result of a button click (or manual invoking of the export method).

Text aligning

Text alignment could be set either to the row element or to the cell. The only exception is when the cell is part of the GridHeaderItem - the elements are not TD, but TH. In this case you should set the style (text-align) to each cell in the given row.

Page break

In RadControls for ASP.NET AJAX Q3 2009 Beta we introduced the possibility to use page-breaks. They can be added in many ways - declaratively, in code-behind or directly in the raw html.

The page-breaking tag is <?hard-pagebreak?>

       FIRST COLUMN        

From Q2 2013 PDF export supports header and footer. PageHeader element holds the header cells while the PageFooter elements contains the footer cells and they are applicable to ExportSettings-Pdf tab. The supported child properties for the both elements are LeftCell, MiddleCell, RightCell which contain the cell text and text alignment properties. Apart from the plain text,the cell text property can contain HTML code, and a special tag <?page-number?> which can be used to display the current page's number.

Image contents of the header/footer cells might be shrunk if they go out of the header/footer area. Adjusting the pagemargins can give the header/footer more space for the larger images.

            <LeftCell Text="Company Name" TextAlign="Left" />
            <MiddleCell Text="<img src="~/logo.png" alt="company logo" />" TextAlign="Right" />
            <MiddleCell Text="<?page-number?>" />

PDF Content Filters

The standard PDF filters can be separated in two categories. ASCII filters and Compression/Decompression filters.The first ones enable the stream contents to be represented in a printer-friendly way and enable better portability for environments which have restrictions regarding the special characters, maximum line length, and the like. Compression filters are helpful when the file size is important. The compression ratio depends greatly on the file contents. It is important to note that the filters are optional and can be turned off. ASCII filters serve no purpose if the file is encrypted.

From SP1 2013 Q2 we introduce a new property named ContentFilter which gives you the ability to choose a filter. The supported values are as follow.

  • NoFilter - no filters will be used (default)

  • ASCII85 - ASCII base-85 representation

  • AsciiHex - hexadecimal ASCII representation

  • Flate - deflate compression method; binary representation

    <Pdf ContentFilter="Ascii85"></Pdf>

Content Encryption

The PDF file generated by RadGrid has the content encryption enabled by default. This functionality is normally used for obfuscating the content especially when there is a UserPassword specified in the PDF settings. When the encryption is disabled, the password will not have an effect. It is important to note that if FIPS validation is enforced the encryption is automatically disabled and can't be used. By default the content encryption is disabled.

    <Pdf DisableContentEncryption="True"> </Pdf>

Forced Text Wrapping

Until now, the overflowing text was carried over the next lines only when there are whitespace characters inside. With the newly introduced ForceTextWrap property it is now possible to force the text wrapping even when there are no white spaces or separator characters. It is important to note that the forced mode will make the file size larger.

    <Pdf ForceTextWrap="True"> </Pdf>

PDF Export Q & A

Below, you can find the answers of some commonly asked questions

Q: How to insert newline character?

A: You can use <br/> tag to add a new line. Another solution is to use paragraph <p><p/>.

Q: How to fit XX columns on my page?

A: Depending on your scenario, you can choose one or more suggestions from the following list:

  • switch the orientation to landscape

  • reduce the font size

  • use narrower fonts

  • decrease the page margins

  • increase the page size

Q: I want to export multiple RadGrids / I want to export nested RadGrids

A: Have a look at the following code-library project: Export multiple RadGrids

Q: The PDF file appears blank on my Mac

A: Please use Adobe Reader instead of the built-in Preview. This limitation does not apply to versions later than SP1 2013 Q2.

Q: My PDF file is blank or I see the page title only

A: Disable the Scrolling/StaticHeaders functionality - don't forget to Rebind() the RadGrid control afterwards, otherwise the changes will not take effect.

Q: I have a RadChart control nested in my RadGrid. How to export it?

A: Although this is not supported out-of-the-box (since the RadChart image is served by a HttpHandler) you could use the following trick: Insert a regular (invisible) ASP.NET Image next to your RadChart control and then call the Save method on ItemDataBound event. Set this image to the ImageUrl property of the aforementioned image control. Of course, you will have to show (Visible="true") the image before export.

Unsupported features / scenarios

Although we are striving to constantly improve our products, there are some limitations in the current implementation of our PDF engine

  • Image transparency

  • Right-to-left fonts

  • Nested DIV elements with absolute position

  • Nested DIV elements with specified width or height

  • Automatic text clipping

  • Client-side binding

  • Medium trust


  • At least one of minimum, optimum, or maximum IPD must be specified on table

Reason: Nested tables should have width in pixels

  • The '*' character, hexadecimal value 0x2A, cannot be included in a name

The default pager's RadComboBox uses special CSS approach that is unsupported by the PDF parser

  • Telerik.Web.Apoc.ApocException: fo:block must be child of fo:basic-link, fo:block, fo:block-container, fo:float, fo:flow, fo:footnote-body, fo:inline, fo:inline-container, fo:list-item-body, fo:list-item-label, fo:marker, fo:multi-case, fo:static-content, fo:table-caption, fo:table-cell or fo:wrapper not fo:table-header

This exception is probably result of a hard-pagebreak, inserted in a wrong place - for example directly after the starting tag of a table

  • System.IndexOutOfRangeException: Index was outside the bounds of the array.at Telerik.Web.Apoc.Render.Pdf.Fonts.Type2CIDSubsetFont.GetWidth(Int32 charIndex)

You are either using RTL fonts or mixing Korean characters with another language in the same element (rare scenario)

  • Unable to cast object of type 'Telerik.Web.Apoc.Layout.BlockArea' to type 'Telerik.Web.Apoc.Layout.AreaContainer'

Most probably you have DIV element with specified dimensions or absolute positioning. Remove the relevant width/height/position attributes to avoid this exception.

  • System.Security.SecurityException: Request for the permission of type 'System.Security.Permissions.FileIOPermission

RadGrid's PDF export engine doesn't work in medium trust.

  • Telerik.Web.Apoc.ApocException: internal-destination or external-destination must be specified in basic-link

PDF engine is trying to resolve empty anchor URL. Please note, that the anchor links are supported only when valid URL is supplied. Example:

  • System.IndexOutOfRangeException: Index was outside the bounds of the array. at Telerik.Web.Apoc.Fo.Flow.TableRow.CellArray.GetNextFreeCell(Int32 colNum)

The reason for this exception is that the number of col elements is the colgroup is not equal to the maximum number of cells per row. Put simply, if you have a table with two columns, you should put two col elements.

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