How to Create a PDF for Free

How to Create a PDF for Free

When I visit web sites I notice many of them are offering e-books. These are usually books in a PDF format that can be downloaded and viewed with a reader. The most popular reader is Adobe’s Acrobat Reader. The once nice thing about PDF documents, and probably the reason they were chosen for e-books, is that the document will look the same regardless of the reader’s computer. Other formats, such as Microsoft Word, may look different depending on whether the reader has the same fonts installed.

Many tools that are used to create a PDF document cost money, but I use a tools that is free. So if you are interested in creating your own e-book, or would just like to create a PDF document, then I’ll talk about the tool you can use for free with pretty much any application.


Create a PDF for Free

What is a PDF Document?

Before I explain how to create one, let me introduce you to this file format. PDF is an acronym for Portable Document Format, and was created by Adobe in 1993. It was developed to allow others to share documents independent of the application, hardware and operating system.

Many of you have probably viewed a PDF document in the past using a reader such as Adobe’s Acrobat Reader. Many software packages, and games include a PDF instruction manual on the CD instead of a paper copy. You may also be able to download instruction manuals online from a product’s vendor as a PDF file. I know my digital camera’s manual is downloadable in PDF from Canon in case I lose the one that was packaged with the camera.

As you might have guessed, PDF files are a popular way of sharing documents. The question is how do you go about creating one? It’s as easy as printing a document on your printer.

Creating a PDF Document

In order to create a PDF, you first need a document to convert to PDF, and an application to do the conversion. The good news is that there is a free application to perform the conversion. The application is called PrimoPDF. I have used this application several times in the past, and have not had a problem with it.

To create a PDF, use the following steps:

  1. Download and install PrimoPDF.
  2. Open up the document you would like to convert in an application. For example, if you would like to convert a Microsoft Word document, open that document in Microsoft Word.
  3. Once the document is open, print the document.
  4. From the print dialog, select PrimoPDF as your printer. Click OK to print. Don’t worry it won’t actually print to a printer.
  5. Select PrimoPDF as Printer
  6. After a few seconds, the PrimoPDF dialog will be displayed. There are several presets that you can use to create your document. Clicking on each preset will provide a description of the type of PDF file that is produced. Other options in the dialog include:
    1. Document Properties: You can specify such information as the title, author, subject and keywords.
    2. PDF Security: Allows you to specify a password that is needed to open the document, or permissions associated with the PDF file.
  7. PrimoPDF Dialog
  8. Once you have set your options, you can then specify the location in the Save As edit box. You can also tell PrimoPDF what to do after the creation of the PDF, such as view the PDF, or send it in an e-mail.
  9. When you are ready to create the PDF, click the Create PDF button. A new PDF document will be created in the location you specified.

I have tested this tool with various applications, including Microsoft Word, Excel, Notepad, and GIMP (an image editor). PrimoPDF was able to create a PDF document from each tool using the Print function. I wasn’t able to get it working with Internet Explorer, however, so I’m not sure you can turn a web page into a PDF.

Summary

If you are thinking about creating e-books or PDF files, then you may want to check out PrimoPDF. This tool allows you to create PDF documents from many different applications, such as Microsoft Word, as easily as sending a document to a printer.

Have Your Say

  • Do you currently create e-books, and if so, which PDF creator do you use?

24 Responses to “How to Create a PDF for Free”

  1. Katherina says:

    When I originally commented I clicked the “Notify me when new comments are added” checkbox and now each
    time a comment is added I get three e-mails with the same comment.

    Is there any way you can remove people from that service?
    Cheers!

    • Paul Salmon says:

      Hi Katherina,

      In the e-mail there should be a link that allows you to manage your subscriptions. When you click that link you will be directed to a Web page that allows you to remove yourself from specific comment subscriptions.

  2. Lewis says:

    Greetings! I know this is kind of off topic but I was wondering
    which blog platform are you using for this website?

    I’m getting sick and tired of WordPress because I’ve had issues with hackers and I’m looking at alternatives for another platform. I would be awesome if you could point me in the direction of a good platform.

  3. Sohail says:

    Paul thanx a lot that was really good & easiest way to create the pdf file, I love that thanks a lot.

  4. Sherri-Lee says:

    Great article thanks, I have a pdf document, that I have to now edit and add things to… can I do this in the program you suggested? Thanks!

    Sherri-Lee

  5. Johnathon says:

    Yes very good apllication. One problem though. I was in need of this as I have material that I needed to turn into a PDF, however I can’t take a chance that people can print it and also copy and paste from it. So I made sure I locked it and made it unprintable in the Primo setting when the file but it still prints and copy/pastes even though it has a big “secure” in the heading of the Tittle.

  6. Carrie says:

    Does this work with scanned in items? For example: Need to scan in old medical records, recipes, etc; decluttering my household. I would like to scan them in and save as PDF so I can reopen them on any device. Those new ‘neat desks’ look great, but way too expensive. Please help! Thanks.

    • Paul Salmon says:

      Many scanners and scanning software support saving your scanned image directly to PDF. If not, then you can save as an image, and the open the image in the editor. From there you may be able to print the image to a PDF using PrimoPDF.

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