First though, there are a few key things you will need before progressing:
1. A computer (The very same that you're using to view this Instructable)
2. Adobe Reader (Details Later)
3. Microsoft Word, Open Office, etc. (really any document editing program that is capable of changing fonts, colors, inserting pictures, etc.)
4. Ample time to read through this entire Instructable (although this is a fairly simple process, it would be in best interest if you could just sit and read through this, and not have to worry about other distractions ;)
*NOTE* This Instructable goes into very brief detail on all of the aspects of PDFs. It also contains some VERY basic information, from which those of you more experienced may find a bit TOO basic...but nonetheless, it just scratches the surface of the capability of PDFs. Also, please comment, as this is currently my only published Instructable (positive feedback please).
*ANOTHER NOTE* Yes, you can create PDFs directly in Open Office, the document suite that I have provided information for. There is a button in the top toolbar that utilizes this feature. HOWEVER-I have created this Instructable to show methods of creating PDFs if you do NOT have Open Office. Yes it's free, and it isn't that big of a deal, but why download Open Office JUST to create PDFs? That is why I have provided a method for those using Word, etc.
Step 1: What Is the PDF File Format?
This is especially helpful for people who don't want to go back and forth from program to program trying to make their file or document work with other programs. It can turn into a real hassle, having to convert your file from a Word doc, to a JPEG, to perhaps a PNG, etc. But PDFs eliminate the need for such calamity. To put it bluntly: one file format fits all-well, not really. You still need a PDF reader to view PDF files, but they are able to keep everything consistent from the original document.
Many companies use PDFs for many different applications. For example, many software downloads available on the Internet come with a Readme file, which tells you what the program does. Although often ignored, these Readmes are usually in PDF format. Another example would be educational boards or organizations. Some of them will put renovation or redistricting plans into PDFs, from which board members or community members can download them and see the plan for themselves. PDFs really do have endless uses in our modern world.
Step 2: Software Needed for This Project
1. Adobe Reader PDF Reading Software - This is CRUCIAL. This program is the proverbial backbone of your PDF body. It was developed by Adobe Systems in 1993, and has been used ever since to read PDF files. It will allow you to read any PDF files you create, as well as others that you may & will encounter in the future. It is completely free, and can be downloaded at: http://www.adobe.com/
In the picture below, I have shown the link to click for the download, as well as several other pictures that describe the rest of the process.
2. Primo PDF - This is as well, another free program that can be downloaded for your personal usage. This is the program that will be installed in order to convert your Word documents, etc. to PDFs. Again, here is the link to their website, and I have also provided pictures below of the download/install process: http://www.primopdf.com/
3. Any Basic Document Editor - A example of this would be Microsoft Office Word. It is really any program that has the capability to edit documents, and change characteristics like font, colors, add pictures, etc. Many of you will have Word already, but for those who do not, you can get a free open-source program called Open Office in place of it. Open Office is a totally free document editor suite that looks and functions very similarly to Microsoft Word-but without the over-$100-price tag. I will provide the link and pictures: http://www.openoffice.org/
Step 3: Create a Word/Open Office Document
The first thing we need to do is create a new document. Because Open Office is the software suite that I mentioned AND provided a link for, I'm going to cover it in this step. I will NOT go over how to do this in Word, because people that own it should know how to perform these tasks.
The first thing you want to do is open Open Office (haha...). If this is the first time you are opening the program, you will be guided through the brief setup with a wizard. It will ask you for your first and last name (for documents), as well as if you want to register or not. See the pictures below for what the wizard looks like.
After you have finished setting up, you will be shown a screen that gives you multiple different options. It will ask you if you want to create a new presentation, spreadsheet, text, database, drawing, or formula document. All you need to do is click on the "Text Document" button to create a new one.
When your new blank document opens, there are a few things that you should look for and be familiar with before we get started. The first is the top bar. This is the bar that says File, Edit, View, Insert, Format, etc. Click on File, then look down the list for Save As..., and click it. When a window pops up, choose a location to save your document. The first very important thing that you can do is choose a file format from the drop-down list at the bottom of the window. This list is right below "File Name". The great thing about Open Office is that you can save your documents as Microsoft Office Word documents, regular Open Office Documents, or any other number of file formats in the long list. What you want to click is the "Microsoft Word 97/2000/XP (.doc)" format. This will allow you to open your document on any computer that has Word OR Open Office. Also choose a file name, and click Save.
You will probably get a popup box that says something like: "This document may contain formatting and content that cannot be saved in the Microsoft Word 97/2000/XP file format. Would you like to save anyway?" I have a picture of this below. Chances are you won't be doing anything majorly different from Word, so go ahead and click "Keep Current". Sure, you can save your document in ODF format, but it only works with Open Office, and we want to stay compatible.
So with your new document saved, go ahead and get creative! The objective of this Instructable was to show people how to create PDFs. PDFs, as I have shown, can retain all of their properties from the original document. Type, change fonts, colors, add pictures, whatever! For the purpose of this demonstration, I have created a document that is shown below that features many different fonts, colors, and a few pictures. I will not be going over how to use Open Office in this Instructable, so if you have never used it or anything like it, your best bet would just be to tool around and figure some things out for yourself. Once you have created your wild document, click File, then hit Save. Once your document has saved, it's onto the next step.
Step 4: Exporting Your Document As a PDF
Now it's time to create the actual PDF. Save your document one more time for good measure, and click File again. This time, look down the list for Print. I know, I know. "Where the heck is he going with this?" you may be saying, but just wait and see. Go ahead and click print, and you should get a box that looks like the one below.
In the print window, the very first thing you see is a drop-down box that says *insert something here*. The reason I say this is because you may have printers and fax machines installed, but I do not. What the box says will vary from person to person. Mine in particular says Adobe PDF. This is a whole other PDF converter that I will not go into at all, because it came with Adobe Acrobat, which was purchased. Instead, click the drop-down arrow, and select PrimoPDF. Once you have done this, click OK.
After a couple of seconds, PrimoPDF will open (picture below). At the top of the program, you will notice different options and settings for creating PDFs, such as Screen, Print, eBook, etc. The print option, for example, is a group of settings that optimize your PDF for printing. Because we won't be printing this, We'll stick with the Screen option. This optimizes your PDF for viewing on a computer.
Click the 3 dots next to the "Save As" bar to change the file name. Also make sure that the Post Process is set to Open PDF. This will open your PDF once it has been created. When you're ready, click "Create PDF".
Step 5: Viewing Your Newly Created PDF File
Your new PDF file should open in Adobe Reader. If it opens, you have successfully created a new Adobe PDF file! If you compare the two documents side by side, they should look exactly the same, save a color shade or two(pictured below).
So finally, I say congratulations! In a few steps, you have gone from a simple Open Office/Word document to an Adobe PDF file. Now you can be a technology trend setter with your knowledge of creating PDF files. This method can also be applied to any other program with a print feature, such as Adobe Photoshop, most internet browsers, etc. I hope you found this Instructable helpful, and I would appreciate any positive feedback that anyone can offer.
Thanks again, and see ya next time.