So you’ve decided you want to publish an e-book and the format you are going to use is called Portable Document Format (PDF). Good for you!
A Short History of PDF
The PDF file format started out in 1991 as a part of a system called Camelot, which is actually a forerunner to the current PDF standard. In 1993, Adobe Systems introduced the PDF file format and allowed desktop users to create documents in the format. Unfortunately, at the time, PDF was completely proprietary.
In 2008, Adobe Systems released the PDF format as an open standard file format, allowing anyone to create, distribute, use, or sell PDF documents and software to create PDF documents.
PDF was introduced in the early 1990s to allow users of various computer systems to read a single document type without having to convert from one code format to another in order to view the same document. While it caught on slowly, eventually the PDF file format would become an acceptable standard for cross-device communication.
Software You Can Use To Create PDF Files
There are a ton of PDF creation software on the market. Adobe Systems has a proprietary software called Adobe Acrobat, which can create PDF documents, but it’s pricey. Adobe Illustrator is another proprietary Adobe software that can create Portable Document Format files. It’s still a pricey bit of software. Besides, Adobe software packages are notorious for being memory hogs and can slow down computer systems drastically. There are reasonable alternatives.
PDF software generally fall into one of several categories – Converters, Editors, Creators, and Development Libraries. There are even software programs that are capable PDF viewers, but these generally aren’t helpful in creating PDF files.
Converters come in two types. They either convert files into PDF or convert from PDF into other formats. Sometimes, a converter does both. Popular converters include GIMP, ImageMagick, LibreOffice, OpenOffice, and SWFTools. Both GIMP and SWFTools convert from PDF easily but don’t go the other way. The other formats can convert in either direction.
PDFedit, Nitro PDF, and PDF Studio are able PDF document editors.
The best software programs for creating PDF documents are Creators. Some popular PDF creators include FineReader, OpenOffice, LibreOffice, Prince, and Scribus, just to name a few.
How To Create PDF Documents Easily
The easiest and cheapest way I’m aware of to convert your Word documents into PDF files is to download a free copy of OpenOffice. This is a free open source alternative to Microsoft Word.
OpenOffice is a versatile word processing program that allows you to save in a variety of formats, including .rtf, .doc, .txt, and PDF. You can open your Word documents and save them as PDF files. OpenOffice actually has an advantage here because Word does not currently allow you to save a document as a PDF file.
You do not have to work in Word then open your document in OpenOffice. You can actually work in OpenOffice and do everything you can do in Microsoft Word – plus, convert your file to PDF.
To convert your OpenOffice document into a PDF file, click on “File” in the top menu and scroll down to “Export as PDF.” You’ll get a pop-up box with a list of PDF options. Most of the time, the default settings are adequate. Click “Export” and your computer will ask you where on your hard drive you want to save your file. Choose a folder or create one and you’ll have a readable PDF document in seconds.
Of course, this doesn’t tell you how to format your document or get you from the beginning of the creative process to your publishing schedule, but you should have a basic understanding now of how to create a PDF document quickly and with no money.