How do I create a PDF?

A straightforward guide to creating PDFs for the Learning Web.

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As faculty are encouraged to print less, access to digital versions of course materials has become more important. But simply uploading copies of Microsoft Word or Powerpoint files to the Web is not necessarily the best approach. There are three important reasons for this:

  1. Office files are not universally accessible. When you share a Microsoft Word document, for example, the person receiving the document will need Microsoft Word to open the file. This is not always the case.
  2. Your formatting will not be preserved. When you share a Powerpoint presentation, if the other person does not have the same fonts, the layout of your slides will change and the content may even be unreadable.
  3. Others can edit your Office files and redistribute them. Sharing an original Word document with others can create other problems when the original file gets modified and/or forwarded beyond their original intended recipients.

Creating PDF versions of your files solves these issues for the most part. All modern operating systems, including Windows, MacOS, and Linux provide support for accessing PDF files meaning that anyone with access to a computer should be able to open and read a PDF file. And your formatting is preserved with a PDF as if it were a print copy of your original file. Finally, unlike Word documents or Powerepoint presentations that are intended to be easy to edit, PDF files can be read-only and are much harder to manipulate by the average computer user, meaning that your work is safer from misuse.

Step by Step Instructions

The following how-to provides an overview of creating PDF versions of your files. For these instructions, Microsoft Office 2010 for Windows 7 has been used. This software is available to all college faculty and staff. If you do not have a copy of the software, you can submit a request to Information Technology.

1. Open a document in Microsoft Word.

2. Click the Save button at the top of the window (Look for the floppy-disk icon).

3. From the Save As menu, choose PDF.

4. For the location, save the file somewhere where you will be able to easily locate it later.

5. Click Save.

6. Once you have confirmed that the PDF version of your document has been created, you can close all applications.

Note: This same process is generally applicable for other products in the Microsoft Office 2010 suite, including Excel, Powerpoint and Publisher.

Video Demonstration