Whether you're a PC, Mac, or Linux user there is one common document format that's viewable across multiple operating systems - the Portable Document Format... commonly known as PDF and viewable with Adobe's free Acrobat Reader.
PDF stands for Portable Document Format. This means that a PDF document can take whatever you have created on your computer and convert it into a standard format that can be read by someone using a different computer, with different software.
Viewing PDF documents is the easy part, but creating PDF documents has in the past required expensive programs like Adobe Acrobat that runs about $200 per license.
Fortunately there are some free or inexpensive tools available that make creating PDF files a breeze.
PrimoPDF installs as a PDF printer. This means you can use PrimoPDF to print your documents to a PDF file from any Windows application.
To print a document to PDF with PrimoPDF: With your document open, click File > Print. Select PrimoPDF from the list of printers, and your file will be saved in PDF format to your system. Installation and instructions can be found at http://www.primopdf.com/install.htm.
The PrimoPDF driver crashed every 3rd or 4th time I used it, and it didn't always convert all of the slides in my Powerpoint documents. I abandoned it after a couple days of frustration using it, but the price is well... free (although in this case you get what you pay for).
Not only does OpenOffice do an excellent job of converting Microsoft documents to PDF format, it's also completely free and comes with a spreadsheet and word processor that's comparable to Microsoft Office.
OpenOffice can also read Microsoft documents and can save in Microsoft-compatible formats, so if you're trying to save some money on software licenses, it's a great way to go. :-)
Download links and instructions are available at http://www.openoffice.org/
The only drawback in my opinion to using Open Office for pdf conversion is that it's a large program that takes up a lot of memory, and is slow to open up. But once it's opened, it works quite well.
If you're looking for an all-in-one PDF converter program and are willing to pay a little money, then check out Expert PDF Pro. It's the only product on the market that provides PDF conversion as well as conversion from Word back to PDF format.
Expert PDF is easy to use and a reliable PDF application that creates, modifies and sends PDF files as easily as Word documents. You can modify text, images, layout or comments quickly and easily. This version can also be used as a default viewer for all your PDF documents.
The nice thing about Expert PDF is that you can use it to edit PDF documents, without having to spend a lot of money for the full version of Adobe Acrobat. You can also use it to convert PDF files back to Word docs - something you can't do with Open Office.
Here's a link to Download Expert PDF for a free trial.
While we're talking about PDFs, did you know that using PDF documents can improve the way you do business?
- Improved Security. If you send invoices or legal documents, then use a PDF as these are far more secure than standard Microsoft Office documents. PDFs also make it very difficult for anyone to tamper with the content of the document.
- Save Time and Money. By sending your invoices or contracts electronically by PDF you can ensure that they are secure and in a clear format that can't be changed. This can reduce vital time in getting paid or securing a vital contract for your company.
- Look Professional.Using PDF's can give your business a professional appearance, and might impress potential customers.
- Universal Compatibility. By using PDF documents you can ensure that the person you're sending it to can read it, even if they don't have the same software that the document was originally created in.
- Standard formatting. Some documents may have complex formatting or use special fonts. By converting and sending these as a PDF you can ensure that the reader sees the document exactly as you intended.