Reading Time: 5 minutesWriters are often asked to send files as PDFs. But how do you create PDFs when you write in MS Word or Apple Pages? In this article you’ll learn how to easily convert or save files to PDF.
PDF is an acronym for Portable Document Format which was created by Adobe in the 1990s. For several years, the format was controlled by Adobe and required Acrobat to open PDFs. That is no longer the case. Many software programs or apps can now create PDFs.
I’ve known people who were slightly confused about PDFs and how you wrote in that format. You don’t write or create in PDF as you would in say, MS Word or Photoshop. You write documents in almost any software that is designed for that, then convert that file into PDF. Same thing for page layouts, images, etc.. The piece must be created first in a document, layout, or image format, then converted to PDF.
What is a PDF?
The simplest way I know to describe PDF in layman’s terms is as a file format that preserves the content and appearance of a different file. For example, you might create a book cover in InDesign or Photoshop. Some indie authors use Microsoft Word to format their final document how they want it to appear when it is printed. To send that cover file to a digital printer such as print on demand services, you are commonly asked to submit your work as a PDF. When the PDF is opened, it looks just like the original that you created.
The same is true if you write your book then have someone design a layout for it. When the final version of the book is ready to submit to the printer, it is very often submitted as a PDF. When the PDF is opened the book pages will look just as they did when they were created and will print the same way, assuming the PDF was created with the parameters that the printer requested.
In some cases, such as when working with full color artwork that includes ornate text, etc., the printer will ask that the PDF be created with certain settings. If you are skilled in the use of complex image or design software, you probably are well versed in how to find and use those settings. In this article, you’ll learn the more basic task of converting your writing files to PDF.
How to convert Apple Pages files to PDF
In Apple Pages, there are two simple ways to covert a file to PDF which are as simple as printing your document. When your document is ready:
- Go to File > Print or click the Print icon in the toolbar.
- In the Print dialog box, look in the lower left corner for a small drop-down list which says PDF. Click “PDF.”
- A list will drop down where the second item also says Save as PDF.
The second method to convert Apple Pages to PDF is through the Export function.
With your Pages file open:
- Go to File > Export.
- In the slide-out menu, select “PDF.”
- A dialog box will open with six tabs labeled with export choices. The first is PDF.
- Select PDF, the Next in the lower right corner of the box.
A box will open allowing you to name your PDF and select a location for the PDF to be saved. Make those choices, then click Export to finish the conversion process.
How to convert Microsoft Word files to PDF – Windows
Microsoft Word allows you to save your work as a PDF also, but the process is slightly different.
In MS Word for Windows there are two simple methods. The first is to use the Save As function in the File menu.
- Choose File > Save As.
- Then name your file.
- Choose a location to save it.
- Before you click the Save button, select PDF from the save as file type drop-down.
The second method to convert a file in MS Word for Windows to PDF is to use the Export function.
- Choose File > Export > Create PDF/XPS Document.
- Click the Create PDF icon to the right.
How to convert Microsoft Word files to PDF – Mac
In Microsoft Word for Macs, the process to convert a file to PDF is slightly different. There are still two ways to do it, but there is no Export to PDF. Instead, for the first method:
- Use the File > Print function.
- Select PDF from the drop down list in the lower left corner of the print dialog box.
The second way to convert a file to PDF in MS Word for Mac is to use the Save As function. Select File > Save As.
- Select the location
- Type a file name.
- Just before you click the Save button, open the File Format drop-down and select PDF.
- Save the file.
How writers can use PDFs
The methods detailed in this article are most useful for files such as book manuscripts, forms that need to be printed, brochures, etc. The PDF that you’ve created can be emailed as an attachment to editors, printers, etc..
If you need to create a PDF for a digital printer—for example, a print on demand book printer—you will need to be sure that your file meets certain technical specifications that are not covered in this article. This is due to the complex equipment used to print your books. A representative of your printing company can give you the details if necessary.