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 Styles' Free Lesson on How to Convert any Document to PDF

[This instructions work only with the full program, not the Acrobat Reader.] 

Adobe Acrobat (AA) is a program to transmit, view and print documents from an originating PC to another PC with “perfect” reproduction of fonts, styles, graphics and all other details. In effect, AA takes a "picture" of each page so that the PDF version you see or print on another PC is exactly the same as the original. It's helpful to view AA as a way of "printing" a document so that it always looks the same as the original.

AA converts files with a printer called Adobe Distiller. If you go to Start/Settings/Printers, you will see an Adobe Distiller icon (Distiller is a “virtual” printer.) Right click the icon and then click Properties to review all the printer default settings. Look them all over, but only one is important -- Adobe PDF Settings. If you click the window, you will see entries for Press, Printer and Screen (maybe some others, but they're not important). Selecting Screen as the default gives the least exact result (and minimum file size). Press gives the most exact result (and maximum file size). I select Printer as my default, but the type can be changed before each conversion (I'll get to that later.) Also, when you have decided on your default, click the Edit Conversion Settings button and then the Fonts tab. Be sure that Embed all Fonts is checked. (If you don't, AA will select the nearest match of fonts loaded on the other PC.) This adds to the size of the file, but file sizes are still relatively small because everything is compressed.

There are several ways to convert a document to PDF. You will find menus in Word (and probably other Microsoft products) that invite you to click for the conversion. They're okay, but the following procedure seems to work for all applications:
1.  Open your document on the screen. Enter print mode (Control P). Select Adobe Distiller as the printer, instead of your default.
2. You can skip this step, but I always cancel out of Print mode and then review the document to be certain it looks exactly as I want in PDF format, particularly pagination. Make any changes you want, and then get back to Print mode. (If you have made any changes in your document, it's a good idea to Save As the altered document under an altered file name so that you can get it on the screen the next time without having to re-enter your changes.)
3. At this point you can change the default Adobe setting (see above) to Press, Printer or Screen, if you want to (usually by clicking a Properties box). This changes the setting only for this conversion; your system will return to the default when you are finished with the specific conversion.
4. Click Print. You will be asked whether you want to save the document (now with a PDF extension), usually on your Desktop. ClickYes. Then wait for everything to stop making little noises. There is usually no bell or visible sign that the conversion is complete. It should take only a few seconds, depending on the length of the document.
5. Exit out of the document and out of your program. There should be an icon on the screen for the converted document. (If there isn’t and your PDF file is no where else to be found, the conversion process failed. There should be a .log file that you can open -- in a word processor, not in AA -- to find the problem.) Double click the PDF icon (or drag it over your Adobe Acrobat icon) in order to open the converted document in AA. Assuming you want to save the result, do a Save As in whatever folder you keep your documents. You can now send this PDF file (not the icon on the screen) by e-mail attachment, put it on a disk, take it to a printer, or whatever. You can also add or delete pages and do other things in AA, but that's another lesson.
6. After you have done all this, you might as well delete the screen icon (and the accompanying log icon), because it is now useless. It is there, in effect, only as a transitional step.
Notes: The above procedures were developed to use with WordPerfect and other Corel products. Other programs may vary the conversion process. For example, when you invoke the Print command using Acrobat Distiller as your virtual printer, you may be asked whether you want to save the PDF file in a folder rather than on your Desktop. Also, other programs may automatically open the PDF converted file in Adobe Acrobat. Do not assume, however, that your PDF converted file has been automatically saved to your disk. To be certain, always do a Save As in Adobe Acrobat. Another thing to remember is that PDF files can only be opened in Adobe Acrobat (or Acrobat Reader). In other words, you can convert other formats to PDF, but (so far as I know) you cannot convert (or open) a PDF file to another format.

Thanks to Michael H. Styles for providing these instructions.

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