How to make a PDF file
What is PDF?
"How do I make a PDF file" was one of Flycatcher's questions from the "How To...How Do" quest list.
PDF is short for Portable Document Format. Adobe created the PDF file 20 years ago to enable computer users on a wide range of platform to share a document without any changes to the document's formatting and font types.
If you click open a PDF file, it will usually open in Adobe Reader or other PDF reader software. If you don't have Adobe Reader, it is free to download from Adobe's website.
But how do you create a PDF document from scratch?
Save a file as PDF - Save your MS Word doc as a PDF file
The good news is that you can save a text file from MS Word as a PDF file. In fact, you can use the "Save as .... Format ... PDF" on most text editors.
In MS Word for example, when you click "Save As..." you can open the drop down box which gives you different types of file options. If you select Portable Document File here, you will create your PDF file.
Just remember to save your file as a Word .doc or .docx file as well. That way you can edit it later in Word and save it as a PDF again. Most versions of MS Word can't open a PDF for editing, although MS Word 2013 apparently does have this feature.
But how do you EDIT a PDF file? - If you don't have the original Word version, you'll need some software
Adobe created the PDF format, and they still have the best software for making PDF's.
Adobe Acrobat is the software you need to get the most out of PDF files. With Acrobat you have a wide range of tools, commenting and sharing options for sharing the documents over the web and working with others on the document.
You can protect your contents by using digital signatures for copyright, setting passwords so that others cannot alter your files, and certificates.
Because of the way the PDF format compresses the file contents, you can also embed multimedia files into your document, including sound files, animations, Quicktime or AVI files and still have relatively small file sizes.
You can create forms with interactive buttons, and you can include attachments and interactive links to websites.
The version of Adobe Acrobat Pro I am using now is X, but XI is the newest release.
I have chosen four versions of the software for you to look at below, as well as the Acrobat XI Classroom in a Book.
I find the books easier to work with than the online help guides because with the book open in front of me I can work through whatever it is I am doing without flicking from the software screen to the help tab.
This is the PC download version of the standard software above.
If you live in the US and have a US billing address, you can buy it on Amazon and the software files will be sent electronically, immediately. Very convenient!
Read the manual! You can become a real pro with Acrobat XI when you work through the Classroom in a Book. With tips and tricks to get you really proficient, fast.
This is the latest Acrobat and the standard version of Acrobat XI for PC. With this version, you get an integrated Acrobat toolbar for Microsoft and browser applications for quickly turning documents and web pages into high-quality PDF files.
You can also create PDF documents from ANY desktop app that prints.
And you can convert back the other way - you can convert PDF files to Microsoft Word, Excel or Powerpoint to PDF directly from your Office application in Windows.
At under $120, this is one of the cheapest versions of Acrobat, but you will need to verify you are a student or a teacher to purchase at this special price.
What Acrobat Pro looks like
When you open Acrobat Pro, you'll have a few different options for creating a new PDF.
I often work from documents created in other file formats eg Scrivener and Pages and I import them by saving them as a PDF then opening them in Acrobat.
This is one of the features I use most often when compiling content, especially for creating ebooks.
Once you create your files in your text editor, save them as a PDF.
You can select files you have already created and combine them into one document in just a few clicks. Just select the compile a PDF option and choose your files.
I use this method to compile separate chapters into ebooks. It is especially useful when you are collaborating on an ebook with a number of contributors, because when you use this compilation method, it is very easy to juggle the chapters to get the best topic flow.
You can re-order the files by drop and drag, the same way you drop and drag your Squidoo modules and widgets.
In this screenshot I have opened the Tools tab on the right of the document to give you a look at some of the editing options.
And there you have it, a beautifully compiled PDF file, which you can edit and tweak within Acrobat Pro until it's ready to share.