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Adobe Acrobat Basics

PDF documents have existed online for over a decade, and are now an inescapable part of web documentation. They're popular for many reasons (portability, accessibility, and consistency), and are used to share information in paperless and printed environments alike.

Adobe products are available at https://get.adobe.com/. Adobe Reader is a free product, and has many features of the full Pro version; if you are not able to obtain a fully licensed version of the software, Reader is a perfectly acceptable (although slightly limited) substitute. It is also the recommended PDF product for students and others who you may be sharing documents with.

Opening and Saving PDF Documents

Once you have Acrobat Pro or Reader installed, any documents that you download or save with the file extension .PDF will be displayed with the following icon:

Clicking on a document with this icon will launch your chosen PDF application. You can also open documents from within Pro/Reader, by launching the application from your Start menu, and using the open feature to navigate to and select your file.

Saving PDF documents

Downloaded PDFs do not necessarily save the same as many other common softwares. You will need to save them specifically to your computer, particularly if you've made any edits with the digital markup tools or completed a form. To access the save options, open the File menu, then choose Save As, and the Save As PDF. There are many other save options available, but for most users, Save as PDF will be sufficient.

Converting Files to PDF

One of the major misconceptions about using Acrobat is that its purpose is for creating files. In fact, most of the work that Acrobat performs on files is after they've been made in some other principle application or software. It's part of what makes PDF documents so universal; once a documented has been created, it can be shared for viewing and commenting by just about anyone on any computer or device.

The following demonstrations will focus on converting files in the Microsoft Office Suite (Word, Powerpoint, Excel) as it is the current educational standard. However, the procedures should be similar in nearly any other application (Photoshop, InDesign, JPG or PNG files, etc.)

Using Save As

Perhaps the easiest way to convert finished documents to PDF is simply by using the Save As feature. Open the File Menu, and look for the save options.

Save As Adobe PDF

Depending on the version of Office you're using, you may see the option to save directly as a PDF. This is a perfectly acceptable tool to use, but it is different in a fairly significant way; unlike the normal Save As feature, you will not be prompted to also save a copy of your work in its original format. Save As PDF creates a single copy of your work, whereas Save As creates a PDF version of your original Word document that is saved separately, preventing overwriting.

Converting with Acrobat Pro

The second most common option for converting files to PDF is to use the Pro or Reader applications. Open the software on your computer, then click the Create button to open a drop down menu. From this menu, select Create PDF from File. The same menu should also open in the splash screen, as shown below.
pdf-from-file.PNG create-pdf-menu.PNG

Acrobat will have you navigate to the document you would like to convert. You'll then see a progress bar appear as the conversion begins:

This should happen quickly for the average sized document, but may take slightly longer if your document is unusually large or image-heavy. When it is complete, your new PDF document will open in the application, where you can proceed with saving it as normal.

Converting Webpages to PDF

Even in our perpetually connected world, there are situations where it may be better to have reliable offline access to files and websites. Of course, converting a webpage to PDF will not allow the functionality enjoyed with online browsing, but for stable content (news and journal articles, or any other content that doesn't require following links) saving to a PDF is an excellent option for instructors who want to deliver information to students without requiring an internet connection. PDFs can be saved for years, they can be easily emailed, and they are not dependent on browser versions or on remembering to bookmark the page. Simply follow the steps below.

Conversion with Acrobat

If you have Acrobat Pro installed, you can use it to convert web pages. This is the recommended method, since it preserves much of the layout and formatting of the original source. In essence, it 'flattens' the webpage, creating a digital snapshot of the information.

To start, highlight and copy the web URL of the page you would like to convert.

Open Acrobat Pro, click the Create button, and select Create PDF from Web Page.

In the new window, paste the website URL into the text box.

Acrobat Pro will process the request - this won't be long, but it will take slightly longer than the other conversions. Your PDF webpage will open when it is finished.

Printing to PDF

If you don't have Pro, you can also convert web pages by printing to Adobe PDF. This may look slightly different between operating systems and browser versions, but it should be a supported function on all major systems.

While navigating within a webpage, use your keyboard to hit Control + P.
This will open the Print dialog within your browser. Look past whatever installed printers you may have, for something that says either Save to PDF or Print to Adobe PDF. Either will work.
print-pdf.PNG print-pdf2.PNG

Print as usual. Your PDF will open in whatever PDF Reader you have installed, where you can save and use it as you wish.