NOTE: If you want to create fillable PDF Forms, please see Creating PDF Forms for Free instead.
Why would you want to use PDF (Portable Document Format) files when you can just create a Microsoft Word document? In this article I will talk about why you should be using PDF files and some examples of tools that will let you create them without breaking the bank.
Although Word is a great flexible tool, it does have its drawbacks. For one thing, people can change it before they sign agreement documents and send it back. Even if you lock the document, its layout can change from one computer to the next. PDF files on the other hand are more difficult to edit without expensive software such as Adobe Acrobat.
More and more office productivity applications now include the option to save, print or export your document as a PDF. But did you know that you can create PDF files from within just about any application on your computer for free? If you can print from an application, you can use the following solution create PDF files.
This is a PDF printer driver. What that means is that, once installed, it will appear in your list of printers just like any other. The best part is that, once installed, you will be able to create PDF files from just about any application.
- Make sure you are logged into your computer using an account with administrator rights.
- Download Ghostscript and save it to your desktop
- Install Ghostscript by double clicking the file on your desktop. Just let it use all of the default settings as you go through the installation.
- Download CutePDF Writer and save it to your desktop.
- Install CutePDF Writer by double clicking the file on your desktop. Just let it use all of the default settings as you go through the installation.
- You can now delete both of the files you downloaded to your desktop.
That's it, your ready to create PDF files. There is no configuring or anything else to do. Once the above software has been installed on your computer, just print from within your application. In the print dialogue box, select CutePDF Writer from the list of printers and click OK. Within a few seconds, you will be asked for a file name for the PDF file. It's really that simple.
The end result is similar in functionality to Adobe PDF Printer/Distiller but for a price that can't be beat (FREE!!!). There won't be any no watermarks, limitations, spyware, or advertisements in your PDF files. I have been using it problem free for years!
Although you can create forms, they are not fillable nor savable on your clients computer. Links may not be clickable either. To get these features, you will need to purchase and use the professional version of Adobe Acrobat. Acrobat Professional, not to be confused with Adobe Acrobat Printer / Distiller, can be used to create forms that are fillable, saveable, which your clients can email back to you.
A few tips
Although any Truetype fonts will work, these will quickly increase the size of your PDF file since the fonts must then be included within the PDF file itself. Try to stick with standard fonts such as Times New Roman, Arial, and Courier New. You will be better off anyway. Although it may be neat to put all kinds of interesting fonts, your documents won't look professional if you use more than a couple of fonts in a document.
You can further reduce the size of your PDF's by following the instructions on the following page: How to reduce the size of output PDF file. I use the -dPDFSETTINGS=/printer setting and I can't tell the difference on screen between this and the default setting however the size of the PDF is considerably smaller.
Want more advanced features?
Give these free alternatives a try:
It is interesting to note that the latest version of OpenOffice, the free alternative to Microsoft Office, can now also open and save PDF files.