Publishing any documents into the PDF format used to be an expensive and complicated procedure, with only Adobe’s Acrobat software to do it with. However nowadays the eBook author has many options available to them, and converting their final Word (or other format document) just became a breeze! I’m going to run you through three of these, and most are available - for free!
The full free Office Suite OpenOffice, has within its Writer software, a PDF conversion function. OpenOffice Writer can open your Microsoft Word documents also. So if you’ve prepared everything in MS Word, simply open it in Writer, check formatting etc, then convert!
1. Download Open Office from OpenOffice.org (while you’re at it, you might want to pick up the Writers Tools extension pack available for free also - but you don’t need it for PDF conversion).
2. Either write your eBook in ooWriter, or in Microsoft Office’s Word application (and open the final version into ooWriter)
3. If opening a word document into ooWriter, you may need to look at the extension of this file. If you have the most current version of Word (Word 97-2003) it will normally be saving the file with a four-character extension (normally docx) which ooWriter doesn’t currently like. Instead, use the Office Button / Save As, and save as the default Word format, ensuring that the extension is only .doc. You can then directly open the .doc file into ooWriter.
4. Another option is to simply copy and paste into a blank Writer document. You may need to then go through and setup the links you have throughout the document, and some font formatting etc may need altering.
5. Check everything appears as you want it.
6. On ooWriter’s toolbar you will see a PDF icon. This is for exporting directly as PDF. Give the file a name and allow the converter to put on the file extension (.pdf) and you’re done! OR -
7. If you wish to have some security restrictions on your eBook (Password protection, printing restrictions…) this is available from the File / Export as PDF option. Once the window is up, select your options. From the Security tab, you will be able to select password encryption, printing restrictions, and extractions of information. There, you’ve done it this time!
Note: Would you believe this isn’t just for the Writer application. ALL of the Open Office applications have this one-button PDF conversion functionality. This applies to the excel spreadsheet equivalent - Calc, and importantly for eBook authors, the Powerpoint equivalent, Impress.
Owners of the latest version of Microsoft Office don’t have to copy their documents into Open Office anymore. There is now a PDF plugin which works perfectly. Here’s how you get this working -
1. In Word, select the Office button / Save as. You will see an option to Find out about the Save as PDF or XPS plugin.
2. Open this option, and scroll down to the link to download this extension. This will take you through your browser to the download plugins area of Microsoft Office online.
3. If this is your first time to download a plugin, you will be asked to download firstly an Original Geniune Software plugin. Once you have downloaded this and run it, you will be able to download the next plugin and have your Office applications checked for validity before the install.
4. Once through that process, you will be taken to the download button for the Save As PDF and XPS plugin. Download this as, and run to install.
5. Now, once you open up your Word document you will have a new option to Save as PDF or XPS. There are some options found in this Save As window to play with. But unlike Open Office, Microsoft’s PDF converter doesn’t have password or printing security options.
Without OpenOffice or Microsoft’s PDF Plugin
For those who don’t or can’t use OpenOffice applications (perhaps you have a document in a non-compatible format?) there are still some excellent freeware PDF conversion applications out there.
When choosing these, make sure the program doesn’t put in its own advertising blurbs somewhere - quite a few pop these into the bottom footer as hard-coding. Secondly, ensure the program creates live-links from any URLs / web-links you may have included in your eBook - some don’t process these so you end up with a nice blue underlined phrase or link, but it goes nowhere.
Most PDF converters with the best options for you work like a print driver. This is a good function to have. It means that any type of document which has a File / Print function (in Windows) will allow you to select from a number of printers from a drop-down list in the Print Options window. Instead of selecting your normal printer, you will instead select your PDF Converter. From there, you will be given a choice of what to name the job, and where to save it to.
There are also some online options for converting documents to PDF. Additionally some fuller featured PDF Converter applications are available for download free - but often only for personal use, or with some limitations on full functionality.
Of all of these, here are some of my favourite methods for PDF conversion (if OpenOffice can’t be used) -
1. Purchase a copy of Adobe Acrobat (the latest version is 9). It is quite expensive, but comes with a large feature set. If PDF group documents or password protected files are a need, then this may be the way to go.
2. Adobe’s website offers online PDF conversion for free - for five conversions only. This is under the Acrobat.com brand, and also offers file-sharing and team collaborations on documents. If you want more than five, you can subscribe to the Create Adobe PDF Service as a monthly or yearly paid subscription.
3. There are many other online converters. One I like is DrawLoop - which is completely free to register for, and you can upload most Microsoft Office formats.
4. PrimoPDF is a popular desktop application for converting or printing to PDF - with passwords if you would like. PrimoPDF used to be free, and I use a free copy downloaded at the time. However the product now is downloadable with a support subscription only. This isn’t much, however, and is a one-off payment for a very good little PDF converter.