Home: Basic Conversion Procedures

There are generally two types of documents which manufacturers may wish to convert to PDF format: "Digital" documents (those created and stored on their computer systems), and printed, or "legacy" documents, created before the company's operations were computerized. Acrobat is capable of converting both.

Converting Digital Documents

Adobe Acrobat offers two tools for converting digital documents to PDF format: PDFWriter and Acrobat Distiller. PDFWriter is faster, easier and is typically used for simple business-type and CAD documents. Distiller is required for more complex, graphics-intensive documents. Both tools are automatically installed when you load Adobe Acrobat on your computer system. After the program's installation, they appear as printers in the Print dialog box's Name drop-down list. Conversions are made using any program's Print command, and by choosing PDFWriter or Distiller just as you would select your laser or ink-jet printer - but the document is printed "to" a PDF file, instead of to paper.

It's best to make some tests of your own to establish which program works best for your company's documents. Try PDFWriter on CAD drawings, word processing and spreadsheet files. If the results are satisfactory, you'll save time using PDFWriter for these conversions. There are many fine-tuning options available within the program, but the default settings are generally reliable and should be used for initial experimentation. (You may want to review the PDFWriter tutorial before getting started.)

Acrobat Distiller can be used on all documents, but is required for converting documents created in more complex applications like Pagemaker, Quark, Photoshop, or Illustrator. Distiller can be customized for on-screen documents (Web and CD-ROM), and for business-type laser or ink-jet printed pages. It can also handle printing-press ready output such as brochures or magazine ads. In fact, with minor adjustments between conversions, Distiller allows for simultaneous creation of PDFs suited to different purposes.

Distiller is more capable than PDFWriter but comes with a steeper learning curve. Using it is a two-step process: First, a postscript is created from the original document; This is then converted to PDF using the Distiller application. Refer to the Adobe Acrobat manual for complete details on the Distiller conversion process. For an overview of the conversion process, review the Distiller tutorial.

Converting "Legacy" Documents

There are two options for converting "legacy" paper documents to PDF. Using the Acrobat Scan or Import command, you can scan or open a previously scanned and saved file in Acrobat, add document information for indexing, and then save it as a PDF. To make the text of the document searchable, use Acrobat Capture, an optical character recognition program (OCR). Review the Paper Document Conversion Tutorial to get an idea of how the process works.

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