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Acrobat Pro: Easy Web Research and PDF Document-Building Method

Updated on November 21, 2013

Make Your Computer Do the Hard Work for You

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Contents

  • How to Research a Topic or Collect All of the Pages on a Website or Portion Thereof
  • Why Use "Create PDF From Web Page"?
  • Benefits of PDF Document Conversion of Web Pages
  • How "Create PDF From Web Page" Differs from Other Methods of Creating a PDF File
  • How to Capture an Entire Website Into a Single PDF File Automatically
  • Research or Document-Building Using Acrobat's Web Page Capture Feature
  • Example: Easily Create a Research Document in PDF
  • Conclusion

How to Research a Topic or Collect all of the Pages on a Website or Portion Thereof Into PDF Format

An under-used feature of Adobe Acrobat Pro allows users to quickly create a PDF file of one or more web pages, including all background elements. The feature is the Create PDF from Web Page feature.

As a technical writer, I find this feature infinitely helpful and time-saving in technical writing as well as in researching other types of writing I do.

Note: The free Acrobat Reader application does NOT have the feature discussed in this article. You need to have a (legal) copy of Adobe Acrobat Pro, although it need not be the latest version: this feature has been around for a long time.

Why Use "Create PDF from Web Page"?

Task
Benefit of Using This PDF Method
Research a Topic
Collect all relevant pages of research into one file.
Consolidate an Entire Website
Get all pages--without missing any--automatically and quicker and more certain than could be done manually.
Build a Specific Document out of Diverse Web Pages
Create a research or reference document by starting with a single web page and then adding to that other relevant pages, such as from the links on the first page.
Tasks you can accomplish using the "Create PDF from Web Page" feature of Adobe Acrobat Pro.

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Benefits of PDF Document Conversion of Web Pages

Benefit
Details
No need to print out anything unless you want to yet all information is available right in front of you
Save trees and bulky research by creating a PDF file rather than printing interesting web pages.
It's relatively fast
Consider how long it would take you to manually create a single PDF file of all of the pages on a website--making SURE you didn't miss a single one?
It's very easy to do with Acrobat
To capture a whole, or part of, a website, simply tell Acrobat which one and how many levels you want it to capture--if not the whole thing--and allow it to "spider" the website for you.
Hyperlinks between pages work
All hyperlinks work, so there is no need to manually search for the desired page if a link to it already exists in your PDF file made using this method.
Text is keyword-searchable
Imagine keyword searching all of the content of a custom-made research document, with each search term being highlighted for you in the document?
You can mark up the PDF file
All of Acrobat's markup tools are at your disposal: highlight, cross out, circle, comment, etc.
Capture the web page as it appears onscreen
The "print-only" features of HTML are not heeded by Acrobat, therefore the entire page appears virtually WYSIWYG.
The many benefits of converting web pages to PDF for research, reference, or archive using the Create from Web Page feature of Adobe Acrobat Pro.

About These Instructions

Note: The instructions in this article are written for Adobe® Acrobat® Pro Version 11.0.04 for the Macintosh® operating system. Some modification to the instructions may be required if you are using an earlier--or Windows® operating system--version of the software. The Acrobat Pro online help files will contain this information.

How "Create PDF From Web Page" Differs from Other Methods of Creating a PDF File

This method of creating a PDF file is very different from creating a PDF by simply "Printing [or saving] to PDF". When printing/saving to PDF, only the single page is saved.

In contrast, using this method you CAN, even years later, add pages to a PDF file by right-clicking on the links on a PDF page that was created using the Create PDF from Web Page feature!

(Figures appear below the text.)

How to Capture an Entire Website Into a Single PDF File Automatically

Caution: Capturing an entire website can take a LOT of time: hours, in some cases, depending on the particular site and your unique computer system, internet connection speed, hard disk space, and system resources (RAM). Adobe Acrobat may err out or possibly crash at any point during the download if your computer is not up to this task.

  1. In your browser, locate the web page that you want to capture the contents of. For example, locate your hubpages.com website: http://lauraschneider.hubpages.com. Select and then copy the URL (path) of the page to your clipboard: Command + C (CTRL + C on Windows).
  2. Open Adobe Acrobat Pro.
  3. In Acrobat, select File-->Create-->PDF From Web Page. The small Create PDF from Web Page window appears. (Figure 1.)
  4. Paste the web address you copied in Step 1 into the URL box. (Command + V or CTRL + V).
  5. Click Capture Multiple Levels. The window expands to show more options. (Figure 2.)
  6. Click Get Entire Site. All other options will be unavailable to you. (Figure 3.)
  7. Click Create. The Potentially Large Download Confirmation window appears. (Figure 4.)
  8. Do one of the following:
    * Click Don't Show Again if you do not want to see this confirmation window in the future (not recommended even for experienced users!).
    * Click Yes to proceed with downloading the entire website into a single PDF file. (Continue with Step 9.)
    * Click No to cancel the download. The Create PDF from Web Page window appears.
  9. If you clicked Yes in Step 8, the download proceeds. You will see the Download Status window and, behind it after a minute or two, Acrobat adding pages to a PDF file in the background. (Figure 5.)
  10. IMPORTANT step: Once the download is complete, don't forget to save your PDF document!

Acrobat Screenshots for Capturing an Entire Website

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Figure 1: Create PDF from Web Page windowFigure 2: Create PDF from Web Page window--expandedFigure 3: Create PDF from Web Page window--Get Entire Site selectedFigure 4: Potentially Large Download Confirmation windowFigure 5: Download Status window
Figure 1: Create PDF from Web Page window
Figure 1: Create PDF from Web Page window | Source
Figure 2: Create PDF from Web Page window--expanded
Figure 2: Create PDF from Web Page window--expanded | Source
Figure 3: Create PDF from Web Page window--Get Entire Site selected
Figure 3: Create PDF from Web Page window--Get Entire Site selected | Source
Figure 4: Potentially Large Download Confirmation window
Figure 4: Potentially Large Download Confirmation window | Source
Figure 5: Download Status window
Figure 5: Download Status window | Source

Research or Document-Building Using Acrobat's Web Page Capture Feature

The web capture feature of Adobe Acrobat Pro is useful for more than just spidering a website and collating all of its pages in one place, however. It can also be a powerful research or document collection-building tool.

The following example shows how to use this feature as a research tool. It begins with a Google search on a subject that you are interested in and shows you how to add pages to that initial search as desired to build up a single PDF file that is easy to reference, edit, mark up, and keyword search.

Tip: Optimize PDF Files

Tip: To optimize the PDF file size and improve performance, select File-->Save As--> and over-write the original file. The file will consolidate fonts, duplicate backgrounds, and anything else to optimize it for web or other viewing.

Example: Easily Create a Research Document in PDF

In this example, we are going to do a Google search on a topic that we want to research and then create a research document out of the results. (Figures appear below the text.)

  1. In your browser, do a Google search on the topic that you are interested in. In this example, we will Google "hedgehogs". So, the URL for the Google search results that we want to get is: https://www.google.com/#q=hedgehogs. Select and then copy the URL (path) of the page to your clipboard: Command + C (CTRL + C on Windows). (Figure 1.)
  2. Open Adobe Acrobat Pro.
  3. In Acrobat, select File-->Create-->PDF From Web Page. The small Create PDF from Web Page window appears
  4. Paste the web address you copied in Step 1 into the URL box. (Command + V or CTRL + V). (Figure 2.)
  5. Click Create. The download proceeds. You will see the Download Status window (Figure 3.) and, behind it after a minute or so, Acrobat will create a PDF file in the background with the Google results page you requested.
  6. Save this file with a meaningful name!
  7. Now, you can add on to the file by right-clicking on any link in the file and selecting Append to Document from the pop-up menu.
  • Remember to save frequently; these documents can overwhelm some computers quickly.
  • If a page doesn't turn out to be what you were looking for, then you can easily delete it by right-clicking on the bookmark for that page on the left-hand list of contents and selecting Delete Page(s).
  • You can add sub-pages to the one you're on by following the same procedure--right-clicking on the link and clicking Append to Document from the pop-up menu. (Figure 4.)
  • Use keyword search to find a particular piece of information anywhere in the document.
  • Use Acrobat's standard mark-up tools to highlight or cross out or make comments on any part of the document you wish.
  • Use Acrobat's standard tools to rearrange and rename pages as desired.

Acrobat Screenshots for Capturing Research Pages

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Figure 1: Create PDF from Web Page Window   Figure 2: Download Status WindowFigure 3: Initial Search Results PDF fileFigure 4: PDF File with Additional Pages Appended to It (See the Bookmark List at the Left of the Picture)
Figure 1: Create PDF from Web Page Window
Figure 1: Create PDF from Web Page Window | Source
Figure 2: Download Status Window
Figure 2: Download Status Window | Source
Figure 3: Initial Search Results PDF file
Figure 3: Initial Search Results PDF file | Source
Figure 4: PDF File with Additional Pages Appended to It (See the Bookmark List at the Left of the Picture)
Figure 4: PDF File with Additional Pages Appended to It (See the Bookmark List at the Left of the Picture) | Source

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Conclusion

The next time you need to research a topic on the internet, wish to put together a portfolio of different web pages, or capture all of the pages on a given website, remember this extremely useful feature of Adobe Acrobat Pro. Even older versions of Acrobat Pro featured this under-publicized and under-used feature, so you need not spend a fortune on the latest version of Acrobat Pro if you do not wish to in order to take advantage of this feature. Instructions will vary from the above if you are using a different version of the software, however the online help system should provide all the information you need to be successful with it.

When researching new topics on the internet, this feature is absolutely priceless!

About the Author

Information about the author, a list of her complete works on HubPages, and a means of contacting her are available over on ==>Laura Schneider's profile page. But wait--please leave ratings and any comments you have about this article so that it can be improved to best meet your needs. Thank you!


All text, photos, videos, and graphics in this document are Copyright © 2013 Laura D. Schneider unless indicated otherwise or unless in the public domain. All rights reserved. All trademarks and service marks are the property of their respective owners.

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    • Laura Schneider profile imageAUTHOR

      Laura Schneider 

      4 years ago from Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota, USA

      Thanks, stuff4kids! It's always nice to know I helped or might help someone!

    • stuff4kids profile image

      Amanda Littlejohn 

      4 years ago

      Thanks for that, Laura.

      really interesting and thoroughly useful introduction to these great features. I'll look into it as there are all kinds of ways that this could be useful to me.

      Thanks for sharing. :)

    • Laura Schneider profile imageAUTHOR

      Laura Schneider 

      5 years ago from Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota, USA

      I'm glad that I could inspire you!! Cheers!

    • Pamela Kinnaird W profile image

      Pamela Dapples 

      5 years ago from Just Arizona Now

      Wow! It's exciting to know this in case I find myself getting energetic and in a writing mood at the same time. This was easy to read and understand. Thanks for sharing your knowledge. Up, useful and Shared.

    • Laura Schneider profile imageAUTHOR

      Laura Schneider 

      5 years ago from Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota, USA

      Thanks, word55! I hope you find it as useful as I do! Cheers!

    • word55 profile image

      Al Wordlaw 

      5 years ago from Chicago

      Hey Laura, this is a great article. Very useful. Thank you!

    • Laura Schneider profile imageAUTHOR

      Laura Schneider 

      5 years ago from Minneapolis-St. Paul, Minnesota, USA

      Thanks, DDE! I use it all the time when researching articles!

    • DDE profile image

      Devika Primić 

      5 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Acrobat Pro: Easy Web Research and PDF Document-Building Method, a useful, and informative hub sound advice for any one with the knowledge of a computer and internet knowledge,

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