PDFs- how do you create?

The shock hit me today - no more Adobe Professional and no more CS2... :(

I quickly downloaded: PDF995 so I could send my client/friend an email with the project I just completed.

What do yall recommend for creating PDFs? What do you use? Is there a free version that is similar to the Adobe Professional program? Are you able to create multiple paged PDFs?

Thanks much :)

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Open Source

A lot of the open source office/graphics oriented products create PDF files. Some use GhostScript to produce the files, others do it native. OpenOffice.org, Scibus, Inkscape, for example will each generate PDF files for you. The GIMP (or The GIMPshop) will create PostScript files that you can then process with GhostScript to produce PDFs.

Do there's a pressing question ... why do you want to create PDFs?

i need em

PDFs are universal for the most part... anyone can open them and knows what they are. I will be getting together my portfolio and creating a cd of PDFs... I am confident that everyone I send it to will be able to open them.

For printiing, I preferred high resolution TIF files but many people don't recognize that extension...

PDFs are just ... great :)

my artwork | my blog

i hate em

As a pre-press format PDF is useful. And if that's all it's used for then it is good. Making the DIY planner templates available as PDFs is useful but there in lies my real objection to the format --- the encoded contents can't be changed. Once you go beyond wanting to make marks on paper PDF isn't useful at all. It loses all structure; reducing everything to how much ink is to be deposited and where.

Sadly Adobe wants PDF to be used as the document format even for those applications where document structure is mandatory. They are also adopting the same feature-creepism that afflicts Microsoft Word by stuffing in features for the sake of it.

Plus there are technical problems with displaying PDFs as a one-solution format. Difficult (neigh on impossible) to embed PDF documents into a web page. Adobe's recently acquired Flash product is significantly better for that purpose than PDF; also Flash paper is much much much faster than Adobe Reader.

no changes..

I like that changes cannot be made... :blush: ... Keeps my work - my work.

Adobe Illustrator is fun because it takes a PDF and creates an editable version when it opens it... but it IS another Adobe program.

my artwork | my blog


I like that changes cannot be made... :blush: ... Keeps my work - my work.

That's an excellent reason for personal use of PDF. Your background in arts and needing to demonstrate your work makes it useful.

It's also....

a good reason for professional and public use.

Reuse reuse

Nah. When you're working with a variety of document structures PDF's flattening to ink-on-the-page or pixel-on-the-screen is inappropriate. PDF makes it difficult to reuse content because of the flattening. Dealing with document repositories containing millions of documents or fragments of documents PDF is the lsat thing you want to have to deal with. Yup, I know that Sara isn't dealing with that many documents but as a computing scientist I do/did --- you develop a hate-relationship with PDF when it destorys the structure of a document.

Personally I'd rather deal with Microsoft Word format than PDF, at least in Word there is the possibility that the user will have been sensible and used styles (aka descriptive) than procedural markup. PDF's is procedural markup absurbio.

Wrong tool for the job

If you are using pdfs for this sort of purpose, you are using the wrong tool. You don't blame the screwdriver for being a bad wrench. It's a great screwdriver--but a lousy wrench. You use the proper tool for the job, not blame the wrong tool for its shortcomings in areas it was never intended to fill...



You have screwed the screw in with a screw-driver. PDF when limited solely to pre-press application is a good tool. Sadly almost everyone at the encouragement of Adobe is using it for purposes for which it becomes a chisel. Stick with pre-press or it just doesn't work.

not just for prepress

in fact, it was _never_ intended for pre-press in its original iterations. It was designed for on-screen viewing across platforms and systems that may not have the same fonts, etc. installed. It was also designed as a secure way to share text documents online. It is designed for final-form sharing of documents you don't want edited. In fact, the usage for pre-press came long after pdf existed, and has been shoe-horned into the pdf spec, and it hasn't been a pretty ride. Trust me, I've dealt with it. In fact, I have frequently simply given the press/newspaper my doc in Illustrator format, with the fonts converted to "curves" (the word we use in Polish. I suddenly forget the English word). The PDFs are/were great leading up to the final pre-press work, but for press, they want Illustrator, if possible, not pdf, because pdf is still problematic. You need to know what you are doing with pdf to get it right off the press. I can do it, but most places don't trust the customer enough. ;-) And I don't blame them!

No, pdf is best used for what we use it for here on this site--electronic publishing for at-home printing. It's not for editable documents, nor for collaboration of "live" documents, but it's fine for the final form, when you don't want it fiddled with--the fact that some people want to fiddle with that document merely proves the worth of using pdf in the first place! (BTW, which is also why I tend to upload my templates, both in pdf and the original format--because I don't mind people mucking with them) ;-)

But please, don't pretend that pdf is for pre-press only! It's the exact opposite!

On my Mac...

the standard print dialog has a "Save to PDF" selection


"I think the surest sign that there is intelligent life out there in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us." (Calvin and Hobbes/Bill Waterson)


i have a 6 yo pc... :(

my artwork | my blog

PDF Creator


I like PDF Creator better than PDF995. No nag screens. I'm not familiar with Adobe Pro, but the free pdf generators will take any document (no matter the pages) and turn it into a PDF. Some of them have more options than others, but they all serve the basic purpose.

Once you have one of the doohickeys installed, you just print your file as usual, but pick the printer the PDF thingy made for you. You'll have to enter a file name and path for the output, and maybe select settings like 'screen' vs 'printer' resolution and the like, but that's it.

What you won't get with the free things is the ability to do fancier stuff with your PDFs, like bookmarks and security and combining different files into a single PDF.



I will look into that PDF Creator...

I will miss creating and reorganizing multiple page PDFs... but not as much as I miss the rest of CS2. ;)

my artwork | my blog

multiple page PDFs

I will miss creating and reorganizing multiple page PDFs

I've been using the super easy to use freeware Combine PDFs for this, but just realized it's Mac only.

PDF Split and Merge looks to be something similar that'll work on a PC.

My experience with free and open source software is that along side the big boys (like GIMP, mentioned above) you also find streamlined little tools that do one thing really well. You might be able to build up a collection of little apps that do all the things the program you used to use did.



or PDFLab is another app for merging/splitting pdfs. Its' quite flexible, but sadly, to my surprise, it's Mac-only. I thought it was like Multivalent-java-based, but it turns out it's Cocoa/MacOS X only. But maybe somebody else can use it? LINK



I just downloaded PDF Split and Merge... and tried it out.

I feel a bit gimpish relying on so many different programs to do what I used to so smoothly and easily but I will adjust.

Thanks much! off to organize a pdf porfolio...

my artwork | my blog

You adapt or you spend money

Amazing what is available for free, ain't it ?

"I think the surest sign that there is intelligent life out there in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us." (Calvin and Hobbes/Bill Waterson)

I will miss creating and

I will miss creating and reorganizing multiple page PDFs

You might want to explore the Multivalent toolset to get those back. Been some discusion here on its capabilities; a search for multivalent will find you a few discussions including this one posted earlier in the year.

Multivalent should do the job

It's pure Java and works from the command line, however, since you are on a PC, you may have to install Java.
I found out the hard way that a full Java installation is not a standard part of the Microsoft setup.
"I think the surest sign that there is intelligent life out there in the universe is that none of it has tried to contact us." (Calvin and Hobbes/Bill Waterson)

PDF Online

You could also try Adobe's Create PDF Online service. It will cost you a bit (~US$10/month). Seems to accept the more frequently used formats including Word and HTML!!!



When I am on a PC that doesn't have Adobe Acrobat, I use doPDF. This is a free PDF converter for your PC that doesn't have any popups or adverts or anything.

I came across this app in Lifehacker a few months ago and it really was easy.

Hope this helps,

I am also a fan of doPDF.

I am also a fan of doPDF. It is specially easy to use because it does not require to install Ghostscript beforehand.

OpenOffice can directly export to PDF. Inkscape can save to PDF too. I also quite extensively output to PDF when using LaTeX (but that does require installing Ghostscript)

PDF "Printers"

Google for "PDF Printers". As stated elsewhere, these programs will install a new printer in Windows that will create a PDF when used. You'll find some of the ones listed in this discussion. I've personally used CutePDF (http://www.cutepdf.com/). Make sure you get the free version. It is bare-bones, but worked for me.

These are also free:


Anyone have experience with these?

Pleased with Primo

I use Primo pdf at work amongst other things to produce our newsletter (www.uwc.no). It works very well, even our printer is pleased with the quality.
I also use it for converting scans in to .pdf files. It definitely serves our need.

:) kat-in-norway


One app that isn't free but works well as a pdf printer if you have it is Macromedia (now adobe) flashpaper, which comes with contribute. It's works for me in situations where CutePDF and the others that use ghostscript didn't work (I was filling out a pdf form and realised I couldn't save it, so I tried printing it to another PDF).

I guess this would only really be useful if you had the version of creative suite with only the old macromedia apps (as I did in my last job).

Another good reason for Flash Paper

There is one use of Adobe's Flash Paper that Adobe Reader can't match. Flash Paper can be included within a web page whereas Reader forces the entire browser window/tab to be devoted to PDF. (Or in the case of Firefox on Linux and Mac OS X has to be displayed by a separate Reader instance.)

Also I find that Flash Paper is much faster to start up, display, scroll, and generally to deal with.

The specification of Flash is in the public domain. THe guy that wrote it originally (and from whom Macromedia bought it) placed the documents in the public domain so that others would write viewer and creator applications. That few have done says more about the market penetration of PDF than it does about the virtue of Flash Paper.

Given a choice between PDF and Flash Paper I'd take the latter anytime; much more versatile.

CutePDF Writer Freeware

Someone already mentioned CutePDF earlier -- and I just have to sing its praises. The Freeware version has met all of my needs. It's a really fast install, and allows you to publish PDFs from any MS Office program via the Print function (you simply select 'CutePDF' from the list of printers in the dropdown menu on the Print screen).

I've made PDFs in Visio, Word, and Excel -- and I've used it extensively at work. It's been great for distributing documentation to clients at work, because: a) I do all my IA stuff in Visio, and the majority of my clients and co-workers don't have Visio, so saving my work as PDFs allows for quick universal distribution; and b) it safeguards my work by allowing me to distribute documents in a 'read-only' format -- so that a client can't make any edits (either on purpose or by accident!).

It's one of the few elegant applications I've run across. Good luck.

Addendum: Forgot to mention that the Freeware version only allows you to create PDFs from a single file -- it doesn't give you the ability to do any fancy editing (such as form-filling), nor can you combine different file formats (e.g. a Word doc here, a Powerpoint doc there...) into one PDF.