How to Create and convert files to PDF for free
PDF (Portable Document Format) is an electronic file format originally designed by the Adobe company with a specific goal: to preserve the layout of a document that combines text and images – fonts, layout. shape, columns, etc. – as produced by its author, regardless of the software, operating system, and device used to print or display it. Deal! A PDF appears – almost always – identically regardless of the computer or device on which it is displayed, whether with Windows, macOS, Linux, and Android smartphone or tablet, an iPhone, or an iPad.
The PDF format is so efficient that it has become the standard for exchanging documents around the world, to the point of being adopted as an international ISO standard in 2008. It is used by printing professionals as well – all books, newspapers, and magazines are printed from PDF – only in companies, administrations, and individuals, especially for exchanging documents via the Internet.
Even if it is still possible to download and use for free the Adobe Acrobat Reader DC PDF reader, which remains the reference, or one of its free competitors, all current devices allow you to easily view a PDF document without anything. have to install, as they include the necessary tools and functions as standard. On the other hand, many users are wondering how to create a PDF. And for good reason: there is not one but several ways to do it!
Why create a PDF?
It is useful to be able to create – more exactly, to be able to generate – a file in PDF format in many situations. Here are the most common.
- You want to create and distribute an electronic document that will be readable by everyone, including if it is a form in which certain fields will have to be completed by the user, without worrying about whether people have or not the application you used to create the document.
- You must provide a printer with a file that is perfectly faithful to what you created in your page layout or graphic design application, for printing a brochure, flyer, poster, work of any type.
- You want to take advantage of advanced professional PDF features such as document locking or electronic signature.
- You want to scan an important or official paper document, either to keep a digital copy in your hard disk archives, or to email this document in PDF format that an organization requests from you.
How to create a PDF?
Although Adobe offers a paid application, Adobe Acrobat DC, to create a PDF document from scratch (or rework existing ones to make them interactive, for example), more often than not, you open a document already created in a sound application. choice (Word, PowerPoint …), then it is converted for free into PDF.
If the application offers PDF among its recording formats, so much the better. But even if it does not provide for it, it is still possible to produce a PDF by printing the result with a special virtual printer, which generates the PDF file for you.
So here are some possible ways to create PDF on a computer:
- By using office applications like Word, Excel, LibreOffice, and many others, or desktop publishing or DTP applications (including InDesign, QuarkXpress, Scribus …) that allow you to create a document composed of text and images, then Save it as, or Export as PDF.
- By using any of your applications (including those just mentioned), as long as it offers you to Print its documents. Even if no printer is connected to the computer, at the time of the printing request, you just have to choose a “virtual” printer that will create a PDF file on your hard drive. Windows 10 offers it to you automatically.
- By scanning a paper document or a photo with your multifunction printer and requesting the creation of a PDF.
- By using a free online service, on which you send an existing document to be converted: you download in return the corresponding PDF file.
- By creating a PDF document from scratch with the specialized and paid software Adobe Acrobat DC or one of its competitors.
Note that these methods do not only apply to Windows, they almost all have an equivalent on Mac, Linux, smartphones, and touch tablets.
How to convert Word files to PDF for free?
There are several ways to convert a Word file to PDF, whether or not Microsoft’s word processor is installed on your computer.
Convert Word Document to PDF Format
- If Word is installed on your computer, open the Word document (.doc, .docx), or any other Word readable file, that you want to convert.
- Click File and then click Save As.
- Optionally modify the name of the PDF document to generate.
- Select PDF (* .pdf) from the drop-down list of file formats.
- To specify another folder to save the PDF, click on the name of the current folder to open the explorer window.
- To access the PDF options, click on Other options …
- In the same window, when the PDF type is selected, two options allow you to specify whether you prefer an optimization of the Standard PDF (with good quality for images) or an optimization to obtain a Minimum size (for a publication in line, for example, with slightly more pixelated images but a less cumbersome PDF to download).
- The Options… button gives access to other parameters, for example adding a password to be able to read the PDF document (choose to Encrypt the document …).
- If you want to check the layout of the PDF as soon as it is created, back in the same window, select the Open file after publishing the check box. It will open in your usual PDF reader.
- Press the Save button to confirm the creation of the PDF.
Other quick ways to create PDFs with Word
- With the most recent versions of Word, the File, Export command gives you access to the same options as the Save as the function above, to create a PDF document.
- Windows 10 allows any application capable of printing its documents (and therefore Word) to convert them into PDF files by choosing the Microsoft Print to the PDF printer. Try this method if the Save As (or Export ) function does not produce a satisfactory PDF file.
- If you have installed an application specializing in PDF management, such as PDFCreator: it is supplied with a PDF printer driver which allows you, in Word, to launch the File, Print command and choose the PDFCreator printer. This method can be useful to take advantage of PDFCreator’s options, for example, to print several Word documents in succession and merge them into a single PDF file.
Convert Word File to PDF Online
There are dozens of websites for converting Word documents to PDF files: smallpdf.com, PDF2Go, Conv2pdf.com, etc. Their strengths: you don’t need to have Word or install anything on your computer, they take care of everything and you get the result in seconds. Free if you only carry out a few operations per day, these services are not limited to Word format and offer many options for converting and/or manipulating PDFs. Demonstration with smallpdf.com.
Do you work on confidential documents? It might be better to avoid going through an online service, and therefore favor a method that works offline: convert the document with Word if you have it, or use the free LibreOffice office suite (which reads Word files very well ) as explained here.
- In your Internet browser, for example, go to smallpdf.com.
- Click on Word to PDF.
- To select the Word document (.doc or .docx) on your hard disk, click on Choose files (one document at a time for the free version, otherwise press the Ctrl key to select several). You can also pick up a file kept in your DropBox or Google Drive online storage, or grab a Word doc in Windows File Explorer and drop it on this web page, anywhere in the area.
- Word file is converted in seconds. Click on Download to retrieve it on your hard drive, or on the chevron next to it to save it to your DropBox or Google Drive online storage.