Conversion Options in PDF Maker - dummies

By Jennifer Smith, Christopher Smith, Fred Gerantabee

Adobe Acrobat Creative Suites 5 includes tools that make it easy to convert Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files to PDF. When you install Acrobat on your computer, it looks for Microsoft Office programs. If Acrobat locates Word, Excel, PowerPoint, or Outlook, it installs an add-in — the PDF Maker — to these programs that helps convert Microsoft Office documents to PDF in a single click.

When working in Microsoft Word, Excel, or PowerPoint, you can access the PDF Maker controls by clicking the Acrobat tab and then clicking the Preferences button (Office 2007) or by choosing Adobe PDF→Change Conversion Settings (earlier versions of Microsoft Office).

In the Acrobat PDF Maker dialog box that appears, you can then choose from a variety of settings that control how the PDF file is created. In this section, we focus on the most useful options for Microsoft Office users.

From the Conversion Settings drop-down list in the Acrobat PDF Maker dialog box, you can find these useful options that control how the PDF file is generated:

  • Standard: Choose this option to create PDF files that will be printed on an office printer or distributed via e-mail. This setting meets the needs of most users — it provides some compression of graphics, but they remain clear on-screen and look reasonably good when printed. This setting builds the fonts into the PDF file to maintain an exact representation of the document, no matter where the file is viewed.

  • Smallest File Size: With this setting, you can control the file size of the PDF documents you create. This setting provides significant compression of images and also reduces resolution, which causes graphics within the files to lose some clarity and perhaps appear jagged.

    In addition, fonts aren’t embedded in PDF files created with this setting. If the fonts used in the document aren’t available on a computer where a PDF created with the Smallest File Size setting is viewed, Acrobat uses a font substitution technology to replicate the size and shape of the fonts used in the document. This provides a similar appearance to the original document, but not an exact match.

    Because this setting is so lossy, use it only if you need to compress a large file to a small enough size to send as an e-mail attachment. Make certain the recipient has the fonts used in the document installed on his or her computer. Otherwise, Adobe uses font substitution.

  • Press Quality: If you need to provide PDF files to your commercial printer or copy shop, use this setting to create a PDF file that’s designed for high-quality print reproduction. Along with including fonts in the PDF file, the graphics aren’t significantly compressed, and they maintain a much higher resolution.

    Overall, these files tend to be larger, but the quality of the PDF file is more important than the file size when you’re having the PDF professionally printed.

Several other highly technical options might be useful for you if you have a specialized profession. For example, if you archive items with PDF, the PDF/A options are designed for this. Additionally, the PDF/X options are useful for those submitting advertisements to publications that require the PDF advertisements adhere to the PDF/X standard.