Helping people with computers... one answer at a time.

PDF, or Portable Document Format, is a common format for sharing documents. Turning your Word document into a PDF can be as simple as printing.

PDF, or Portable Document Format, is Adobe's solution for creating documents that can be read almost anywhere. By downloading Adobe's free reader, a PDF file can be read on almost any computer, and even portable devices such as PDAs.

But how do you create a PDF in the first place?

As is often the case, there are several answers...

The "official" way is to purchase a copy of Adobe Acrobat. Acrobat's purpose in life is to create PDFs. It installs several tools, including a Word macro that makes creating PDFs from Word a single-click operation. It also installs a Windows printer driver that will allow you to create PDFs from any application that can print.

Adobe also has an on-line solution Create Adobe PDF Online, that will allow you to create PDFs. It's a subscription service, but the first five PDFs are included in a free trial.

"The 'official' way is to purchase a copy of Adobe Acrobat."

A Google search turns up many PDF conversion programs, ranging from free to inexpensive. Their capabilities vary, so it would be wise to investigate and try a few before investing any money.

Yet another solution is the free Open Office. Open Office is a free suite of office applications, including a word processor much like Microsoft Word. Open office can read Word documents and can create PDFs. Again, the feature set is similar, but not identical to Word and Acrobat, so compatibility may still be an issue. But the price is right, and it's a well supported open source application with a very active user community to help.

For the record, if you're planning on professional PDF content creation as part of a business strategy, the investment in Acrobat is probably worth it. No issues of compatibility or missing features that way. If you're just experimenting, then the free or inexpensive converters are a good way to go.

Article C2371 - June 17, 2005 « »

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Leo Leo A. Notenboom has been playing with computers since he was required to take a programming class in 1976. An 18 year career as a programmer at Microsoft soon followed. After "retiring" in 2001, Leo started Ask Leo! in 2003 as a place for answers to common computer and technical questions. More about Leo.

Not what you needed?

July 4, 2005 6:41 PM

I have acrobat profesional 6.0 and would like to be able to be abe to edit and/or revise scanned docs that were prepared for internal office use but were not save to docs. I have read the instructions on the Acrobat "help" program and even bought a guide book. Both only go so far and I cannot get any help online.

July 5, 2005 9:19 PM

I guess I'm not sure exactly what you're asking. What you haven't mentioned is that you may also need an "OCR" program, for Optical Character Recognition, to turn those scaned images back into editable text. I'll warn you that it's a lot of work.

August 21, 2005 6:01 AM

is there any software free, that convert all files to pdf ?

August 21, 2005 9:23 AM

Yes, there are many.

October 20, 2005 7:01 PM


how do i repair my microsoft word to be able to convert word docs to pdf? i was able to do this before but now, i couldn't seem to convert word docs into pdf anymore. i tested if this is the case with excel, powerpoint and html files, but they are working perfectly.

i'd really appreciate if you can help me on this. thanks.


October 20, 2005 7:23 PM

Please read the article you just commented on. Word (and Excel) do not convert to PDF natively. You must have one of the PDF creation tools installed.

February 24, 2006 11:06 AM

Hello Leo. At the top of this page you say that you can download adobe's free reader. Is that a trial to buy program or is it a free download? If its a free download where can I download it?
Let me know please and thanks a lot for your help. Rianna

February 24, 2006 11:10 AM

Adobe reader is free.

Eli Coten
June 10, 2006 5:10 PM

For the mean time, this is an issue but come along Microsoft Office 2007 and its all change. I've been testing the beta of Office 2007 and can tell you that there is a built in "save as PDF" feature, much like OpenOffice - if you can find it in the completely redesigned user interface!

Kiril Josifovski
July 26, 2006 1:49 AM

I have a very strange problem. When I try to convert a doc. file to pdf, my Adobe Acrobat professional 6.0 simply opens my MS Word 2003 and stops there. No error message or anything... Also, I cannot integrate Adobe in Word. Any suggestions? Help appreciated, Kiril.

Viv Penhallurick
October 13, 2006 3:30 PM This site has both freeware and professional versions. I have found the freeware version is excellent when used in conjuntion with its companion program.

Rick P
October 24, 2006 3:58 PM

Kiril Josifovski - Open Word, click Tools, select Templates & Addins then tick the pdf maker box. This will activate the Adobe link & sort your problem.

January 31, 2007 2:32 PM

For some reason, when I convert a web page to a printable pdf file it comes back in a "landscape" format rather than portrait which is what we want. I have tried three attempts and they all come back in a landscape format. How do I fix this?

Leo Notenboom
January 31, 2007 11:23 PM

It depends on how you're "converting" it. If you're printing to a PDF print driver, check printer settings for that driver - chances are that's simply set to landscape.

Amanda W
March 21, 2007 5:23 AM

To Rick P: THANK YOU for the solution to getting Word to create a PDF. I have spent days trying to figure out why my Adobe suddenly stopped converting Word files. THANK YOU THANK YOU!

March 24, 2007 6:15 AM

The best PDF converters are the ones that integrate with the usual PRINT menu option of applicatoins. e.g. Word, Excel etc..

Theres lots of freeware ones available. Im using one called CutePDF which is great.


Leo Notenboom
April 5, 2007 7:46 PM

Hash: SHA1

Not in general, no.

You might be able to copy/paste text if the specific PDF file you have allows

Alternately you can try feeding images of the pages through some kind of OCR

But neither solution is easy or guaranteed.

Version: GnuPG v1.4.6 (MingW32)


Rigo Muniz
October 30, 2007 5:15 PM

Go and download free primo pdf converter
it works with your acrobat 6.0 standard.
this free program will solve your problem of converting any ms word document into pdf format.

"i cannot convert my word document into pdf. Onthe contrary my excel and power point work fine. I am using acrobat 6.0 standard and office 2003 with sp2 and all the patches have been updated."

Sunni Morris
February 13, 2008 9:10 PM

I need to convert a Word 2000 manuscript into a PDF file to send to a publisher. They only accept documents created in Word so changing to a different document program is out of the question. I have been researching articles on this for the last couple of weeks and can't find anything that will work unless I have to pay a fee to install something else on my computer. According to something I printed out during a Google search there should be an Acrobat menu bar as well as Acrobat icons in my MS Word program. They do not exist. So it also gave me the option of selecting Adobe PDF through my printer window however there is no setting for that either. So I am stuck wondering what to do now. I have Adobe 5.0 on my computer as well as Acrobat 8.1.2 I am using Windows XP pro editon on my computer. Can anyone help me with this? I am willing to try whatever suggestion you can make as I have spent hours on this already. Is my best bet just to go with the subscription service "create Adobe PDF online?" Thank you for any help you can give.

Nan Young
February 14, 2008 12:38 AM

Leo...I read your article, even visited the site you mentioned...Open Office...a lot of the comments attached to your article pertained to difficulties converting a Word document to a PDF. Here is the SOLUTION...
1. Open Up Word;
2. Click on "Help" in Word;
3. Click on "About Microsoft Word";
4. Click on "Disabled Items";
You will see..."The items listed below were disabled because they prevented Word from functioning correctly";
5. You will see a notice - "Adobe PDF Was Disabled";
6. Highlight that statement;
7. Click "Enable".
8. Click "Close."
PLEASE NOTE THAT YOU WILL SEE A COMMENT - "You may have to start Word to enable these changes."

If you follow the above should not have any problems at all. It only took me hours and hours to figure out why my Word was not converting to a PDF, wherein Excel was giving me no problem at all. THE PROBLEM IS IN THE SETTINGS I HAVE DESCRIBED ABOVE IN WORD AND NO WHERE ELSE....GOOD LUCK EVERYONE !!!!!

Nan Young
February 14, 2008 12:58 AM


THIS IS TOTALLY FREE...You'll be happy about that!

1. Go to "" - It's FREE AND SAFE.
2. Type in "PRIMOPDF" in their search window.
3. Download the software you need..very quick.
4. You will be getting PrimoPDF 3.2 version.
5. At the top of the screen for Primo you will
see the Red Adobe PDF button.
6. Open it up....find your Word document and you
are done...just save your PDF and print.


June 20, 2008 7:13 PM

There is a good website for you.

July 10, 2008 3:58 AM

Try to convert your word document to PDF. I tried my thesis for conversion and 182 pages PDF file for free is great.

October 6, 2008 6:19 AM

Try to convert back your PDF files to word documents.

Werner Popken
October 28, 2008 9:19 AM

I use pdf995 for years; it is technically a printer driver - you will be prompted for a file name to save to. If you don't want to pay the license of US$ 9,95, you will get a nag screen in your browser. So far, I didn't do things I could not convert nicely this way. If your program can print, you can use the "printer" pdf995 - that's all. It may be Windows only, though.

March 6, 2009 2:38 PM

Jay from July 10, 2008, you were right. The website you linked to allowed me to convert my word file into a pdf in about 15 seconds and it was breathtakingly easy. Thanks for the tip. Everyone should go there.

Brett Anderson
March 26, 2009 2:19 PM

Turns out if you get Office 2007, you are all set. For both converting to PDF (via save as feature) and also converting from PDF to Word!!! I just found this out today and I've been using 2007 for a while. Here's how to do it:
1) Save as pdf - there's actually an add-in from Microsoft here:
or go to the download site and search for: Microsoft Save as PDF or XPS

2) Converting PDF to word doc. Right click a PDF file and choose "open with" then select Word 2007 (sorry doesn't work in 2003). Now the first time you do this, it will install a converter in the typical way that office installs components that are not already installed (you will need access to the original CD or network install source unless the install files were cached locally during installation). Here's the interesting tidbit, Word is just installing the SolidPDFConverter program (which indicates that MS bought a license for this program and incorporated the feature into Office software). Why would I say such a thing, because the installer box says as much during the install "Installing SolidPDF Converter..."

That's it. Upgrade to 2007 and you'd be all set I think. It may only come with a particular flavor. I've used the converter both ways in "Office 2007 Pro" and "Office 2007 Enterprise". Anyone have a software matrix and could say what other 2007 flavors support this feature?

April 2, 2009 3:18 PM


April 16, 2009 8:40 PM

On linux or unix style platforms, try anytopdf (command line converter), based on, basic macros and perl.

June 10, 2009 12:35 AM

you can try Tweak pdf to word.
it is free to try.
try it in

June 19, 2009 8:36 AM

Thank you for the very helpful information! I appreciate all the comments here - they helped me solve my problem. Great answers for the everyday user.

August 5, 2009 9:58 AM

I am using office 2007 to save as PDF and anybizsoft pdf to word to change pdf to word. The output quality is reliable. You may have a try.

August 25, 2009 10:59 AM

use openoffice to converts your work document to PDF

E. Camner
August 25, 2009 10:38 PM

Leo: For those of us who use Firefox, there is a wonderful PDF add-on/plugin, Foxit, that is as good if not better than Adobe, WITHOUT ALL OF THE HAZARDOUS SECURITY HOLES IN ADOBE. Besides Foxit Reader, the company also offers PDF Creator and other PDF programs. I recommend Foxit highly. ec

I've recommended FoxIt for a long time. Foxit Reader - A Faster Free PDF Reader

Lee Davis
September 10, 2009 8:41 AM

eWriter Pro ( was a win-win for me. Lightweight (at 12MB) for an eBook creation application, this utility is PACKED with value and truly FREEWARE.

Sporting a highly-intuitive GUI (Graphical User Interface), You're able to create both eBooks and articles. But this is the simplest of choices, as the eWriter Pro has an amazing navigation system for both document formats.

On the FILE tab, you're able to save your .doc or .rtf (rich text format) file to PDF format easily.

The DOCUMENT tab lets you insert information into the Properties box (just like Word™), choose your viewing preferences, gives you pertinent information (no. of pgs., no. of lines/characters/words) on the document and has a section for editing (find/replace function), a clipboard function, and a spell check function.

The STYLE tab is as fully-featured as any word
processor program to-date; allowing you to choose fonts and manipulate their properties and colors, text background color and alignment manipulation, and control of paragraphs, tabs, images, headers/footers, and framing of the text.

Lastly, the INSERT tab lets you control placement of images, text frames, hyperlinks, page breaks, headers/footers, and page numbers as well as manipulate those elements mentioned prior. Incredible. Do you realize there are PAID softwares that don't give you this control of PDF creation?!?

For all this incredible value, the ONLY drawback I can find is that the hyperlinks MUST be inserted manually one-by-one (which makes for a GIANT pain in the bum if you have a document that has multiple hyperlinks spanning its' length), but this is miniscule compared to the comfort you'll have in knowing that those hyperlinks are indelibly embedded into your PDF.

Making that Master Resale Rights template a breeze to create in under five minutes. I look forward to this drawback being amended soon (and right now the second version is available, so, we'll see if that has, in fact, been added).

All-in-all, this is the most robust freeware that I've found that has everything that lets it compete with Adobe™ for PDF creation, while leaving ALL other competitors choking on road fumes. THIS REALLY WORKS!!!!!!

Michael Garee
February 15, 2010 6:46 AM

I have a Word 97 document in which I have added a color background to the pages. However, when I convert this document to a .pdf using Adobe Acrobat 8, the color background doesn't print in the .pdf. (I have made the necessary adjustments in Word to print the background using a traditional printer.)

What is the solution to this problem?

Thanks for your help!

Mike Garee

Dillip Kumar Barik
March 14, 2010 7:11 AM

Now, I am using Office-2007 version. But, I want to convert my Office document to PDF format. How can I do this?

Josh Trigg
March 25, 2010 10:04 AM

Yes Adobe is a good answer, but the other day I came across the need to convert a PDF to word (i.e. convert it to the other direction. There are several but I wound up with this as a trial.
PDF to Word 1:

Here was the second candidate
PDF to Word option 2:

March 25, 2010 8:26 PM

Adobe Acrobat will cost me a lot,so ,i think, the best way to convert a word.doc file to pdf format is using pdf converter.Last week,a friend recommend Advanced word to pdf 5.0 to me,I am quite satisfied with it.It is very good in preserving the formatting. It also allow us to convert a lot files at the same time.

March 30, 2010 12:38 AM

Thanks for the post, impressive.

However sometimes when i see some important file, i choose to convert to pdf for long-term reference.

I am using this word to pdf now. Works well!

April 1, 2010 6:37 PM

Hey, look what I found.
Nemo word to pdf converter is a document creation program in php. It can be used to convert Doc to PDF. I've not tried it yet myself, but I certainly shall be experimenting with it soonish.

April 10, 2010 4:09 AM

Great article, i need to upload documents as PDFs for my site: [Link Removed] though was hoping for a free version since it will have very limited use. Any ideas?

S. John
April 15, 2010 6:10 AM

I am writing a novel and intend to use Print of Demand. The printer wants the file preferably in pdf format (cheaper for me. In their self publishing guide the printer recomends the freewhere PDF program I down loaded that and it has done the job an

Monica Sharma
July 6, 2010 10:11 PM

Thanks for the post, impressive.
But you can also use

tom eyre
July 27, 2010 9:14 AM

An easy work-around is to just print the PDF and then scan it into a word or wordpad document
Works for me

Mudassir Ammaar Janjua
July 28, 2010 12:16 AM

This very simple if you have a software named "Adobe Acrobat 3D Version 8". Just right click on word or excel file convert to PDF, you file will open in PDF format after conversion then you can save.

September 15, 2010 2:45 PM

We created a 17 page document into PDF with Adobe and uploaded to a site. This was excellent when we did that, however few days later we discovered an error but couldn't retrieve original word file in our PC, so either we had to rewrite all 17 pages again or find a way to convert PDF to word
and remove the error. Latter turned out to be excellent. what I liked best about was that

1) Its online 24×7
2) It has manual support, which is great for quality because we always face some problem or other converting correctly – though problems are trivial but timely help is awesome.
3) costs just a few cents, works out much cheaper than even Free sites
4) Paid sites so its safe & secure – free from viruses and malwares etc rampant these days
5) Instant and we pay as we use – works out to be very affordable

Bev Rhcirh
September 30, 2010 6:54 PM

I have many floppy discs that can't be read, would this help me to read them? I have spreac sheets and word processing files unable to open

This has nothing to do with unreadable media, sorry.

October 21, 2010 10:42 AM

I have been using for a while now for my PDF converting and creating needs. They do a good job and they are really competitive with their pricing compared to some of the bigger names.

January 3, 2011 5:19 PM

This comment is geared for developers, not end-users. We need to print PDF document programmatically without the use of any other plugins or programs (such as Open Office, Adobe Acrobat or MS Word). We're looking into jWordConvert, a library that can convert Word documents to PDF.

Susan Sims
January 6, 2011 8:14 AM

jWordConvert by Qoppa Software is a 100% java library and can convert Word documents to PDF.

January 12, 2011 7:21 PM

I use advanced word to pdf 5.0,it is pretty good.convert word files to pdf Documents,Converted quality is fairly good: with text content, page layouts, images,and text hyperlinks preserved.I chose it because it is a standalone application, I could run this program independently and needn't extra install Microsoft Office or Adobe Acrobat which costs hundreds of dollars.

Chand Sohail
January 19, 2011 4:59 AM

Can anybody tell me that where is free edition of Universal Document Converter??? for word file convert into pdf.

February 17, 2011 2:33 PM

I just used doc2pdf and in worked great. no need to download any software and it's free. their web site is

February 20, 2011 3:30 AM

Nice post. Thanks for sharing.
You may check out the article below on how to convert Pdf document to word or Doc file through website.
I hope that you will find it useful. cheers.

Reza Mosayebi
April 28, 2011 5:53 AM

Dear sir,
I want a program wich converts word to pdf including it's source code.can u help me on this?

January 3, 2012 3:54 AM

i have several word files and some jpeg files.all of them need to be converted into one single pdf file.
how can i?

Mark J
January 3, 2012 2:19 PM

You can create a new Word file and copy the text and photos into that file and then print it as a PDF file using a utility such as CutePDF.
CutePDF Writer - Create PDFs from any application that can print.

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