PDF Basics and Essential ToolsBy
At least three times this week, the topic of converting a document to a PDF file has come up. The general web population has become pretty comfortable with downloading and viewing PDF documents, thanks to the free Adobe PDF Reader application, however, more users are finding the benefits of creating PDFs from their documents and they aren’t sure how to do it.
WHAT IS A PDF FILE?
Created by Adobe Systems in 1993, a PDF, or Portable Document Format, allows you to share any document, created in any software with anyone, on any platform. Basically, it means if I create a document in PageMaker and you want to see it, you can – and you don’t need to have PageMaker to do it.
When the PDF application was first released, the only way you could read or create a PDF file was by using Adobe’s software, which is not always affordable for the average user. Adobe released a free version of Adobe Reader, which made it much more feasible for the general public to receive the PDF files.
So reading one is easy, but how do you create one?
CREATING A PDF FILE USING AN ONLINE SERVICE
If you need to create a PDF file quickly and just don’t have the time to research the best PDF creators, download software, or learn something new, Adobe offers a FREE trial of their online PDF creator. With the Adobe online PDF creator, you can convert your first 5 PDFs for free. If you think this is a service you want to use a lot more, you can get a subscription for it.
Other online options:
CREATING A PDF FILE USING A DESKTOP APPLICATION
If you think you will need to create PDF files frequently, it is definitely worth downloading a PDF creator application, or if you need your PDF files to be high-end print quality, you might just need to fork out the bucks for the real thing. A lot of design software comes with PDF capabilities built in. If you are using any of them (like Dreamweaver came with Macromedia Flash Paper, a great PDF creator that I use daily), you may want to recheck your installation disks. You may have something already.
When using a desktop PDF creator, it is often as easy as sending a document to a printer. Instead of the end product being a piece of paper coming out of your printer, you will “print” the document to a PDF file that you can then email, upload or share with others electronically.
Other PDF creators give you a one-click conversion option as well. It is just a matter of reading the documentation and playing around with the software.
Adobe Acrobat Professional 8.0 is about $400, however, there are plenty of more affordable options (all under $100):
Free is good, too:
- DocuDesk - 5 free trials
- Firefox add-on Loop to PDF lets you upload, convert and combine PDF files from your toolbar
- PDF Online
This was merely an introduction to PDF files and what they are. Depending on your needs or your end user needs, there are endless applications, add ons, additional capabilities and such you can get into. If you are sending files to a print publication, dealing with secure documents, multi authors, user interactivity and other challenges, it is well worth the investment into learning advanced PDF techniques.
And for all my readers who are already very adept with PDF conversion, I know there are other tools that are easy to use, powerful, and affordable. What do you use? Â