If you want your document, artwork, postcard, flyer, business card, etc. to print correctly, the best way to make that happen is to learn how to create a print-ready PDF and also to review it carefully before submitting it to your printer. We’ve talked in the past about creating PDF/X-1a compliant files for perfect print jobs, but for many of our customers that is way too technical. They just want their documents to print like they look on their screens! So today’s post is intended to help these people learn to create a PDF from within common Windows programs. Note that we are not talking about exporting designs from software made to produce camera-ready art such as Adobe Creative Suite, but rather creating PDFs from within Microsoft Word, PowerPoint and similar programs.
There are 2 basic methods for creating a PDF…
The first method is the “Save As” method. When you are finished editing your document, click “File” (or the Microsoft Icon upper left if you are using a more recent version of Microsoft Office) and then “Save As”. A new dialog box should appear. It is within this dialog box that you will identify three important things about the file you intend to create:
- Where (in what folder or location) to save the new document
- The name of the new file
- The type of file to create
With respect to the first element (where to save), you will want to save the new file in a convenient location. Perhaps a folder on your desktop is a good spot. You don’t want to have to search for the file.
As far as the name goes, you’ll need to save your file with a unique name because you’ll eventually have to locate it when attaching it to an email to your printer, saving it on a USB drive, etc. Many programs assign files generic names such as “document” — you’ll want to be more specific.
Last is file type. You should see a number of options in the drop-down for the type of file it is possible to create from within your program. Since you want to create a PDF, find that option in the list. When you click “Save” you should have a new PDF document to review. Review it carefully to make sure it appears as you expect.
Print to PDF
The second method you may want to try is the “Print to PDF” method. When you are ready to try to create your PDF, click “File” (or the Microsoft Icon upper left if you are using Office) and then “Print”. A new dialog box should appear. The top of this dialog box is where you you identify the printer to use. Click on the arrow to the right to see a drop-down list of all your printer options. Is there a printer called “Adobe PDF” listed? If so, select that as the printer by clicking on it.
Before you click the “Print” button, click on “Properties” to the right. A new dialog box should open. In this new dialog box you can make a lot more configuration changes to the PDF file you are about to create, including the PDF standard to use (use PDF/X-1a), the PDF page size, and more. Once you are finished, click “OK” to go back to the print dialog box. Print to PDF and review your document on screen and on paper for formatting errors.
Hopefully this will help you start to understand the PDF creation process from many of your computer programs. Let us know in the comments if you have any questions or concerns!