Creating PDF From Files

Adobe Acrobat, both Standard and Professional, offer you a number of options for converting application documents to PDF. For PDF creation supported by Acrobat, you don’t need to leave the program to produce PDF files from a number of different file formats.

The Create PDF task button pull-down menu offers several different options for PDF creation. You use the first two menu options, From File and From Multiple Files, to convert files saved from authoring documents to the PDF format. Converting to PDF with either of these commands requires you to access files supported by Acrobat’s Create PDF option.


Although the number of file formats supported by Acrobat through the internal conversion process is greatly expanded in version 7.0, not all files can be converted with the Create PDF tool or menu option. You can also convert any file compatible with the Create PDF >> From File menu command by dragging a document on top of the Acrobat window.

To convert files to PDF from within Acrobat you first need to understand all the formats that are supported. You can try to convert any file format to PDF with the Create PDF tool. If the file format is supported, the document is converted to PDF and opens in Acrobat.

If the format is not supported, a dialog box opens informing you the format is not supported. It won’t hurt to try, but knowing ahead of time what formats are supported is better. Many file formats that are acceptable to Acrobat can also have conversion settings defined by you.

Options for the conversion settings are the same as you have available with the Adobe PDF printer, as discussed earlier in this chapter, and they’re accessible in the Preferences dialog box. Before you begin converting files to PDF with the Create PDF tool, be certain to choose Edit >> Preferences (Windows) or Acrobat >> Preferences (Macintosh) or use (Ctrl+K) and click the Convert To PDF item in the left pane.

On the right side of the Preferences dialog box you’ll see a list of supported file formats. The file formats that are supported by Acrobat include the following:

  • Autodesk AutoCAD (Windows only). Autodesk’s AutoCAD files can be opened in Acrobat directly. Layered files are preserved and opened with data on different layers when layer data are created in the AutoCAD file. AutoCAD is also supported with the PDFMaker utility, which installs Acrobat tools and menu options in the authoring application at the time you install Acrobat.
  • BMP. Bitmap is a file format that can be saved from many image editing programs. Bitmap is also commonly referred to as a color mode in Photoshop. As a color mode, the file can be saved in other file formats. For example, a 1-bit bitmap image can be saved as a TIFF formatted file.

In regard to Acrobat, the bitmap file format that is capable of rendering images in 1-bit, 4-bit, 8-bit, and 24-bit color depths can be opened as PDF. Furthermore a bitmap color mode saved as any of the compatible formats listed here can also be opened as a PDF.

  • CompuServe GIF. CompuServe’s Graphic Interchange Format (GIF) was developed years ago to port image files to and from mainframes and microcomputers. It remains a popular format for Web graphics, and the later version of GIF89a supports interlacing.

If using Photoshop, you can either save in the CompuServe GIF87 format or use Photoshop’s Save for Web command and choose the GIF89a format. Regardless of what format is used, Acrobat can import either as a PDF.

  • HTML. Hypertext Markup Language files are documents written in HTML for Web pages. You can open any HTML file and the file and file links convert to PDF. Clicking an HTML link in a converted file in Acrobat appends the linked file to the open document.
  • InDesign. New in Acrobat 8 is support for Adobe InDesign. Click the Edit Settings button and you can choose from all the Adobe PDF Settings used by Acrobat Distiller.
  • JDF Job Definition. You find JDF files in prepress workflows. The resultant PDF produces a standardized XML-based job ticket with information about the file for commercial printing uses, such as page size, crop and bleed areas, trapping, colorspace, and so on.
  • JPEG. Joint Photographic Experts Group (JPEG) images are also used for Web graphics and file exchanges on the Internet. JPEG compression is a lossy compression scheme that can degrade images rapidly when they are compressed at high levels. These files are already compressed.

Adding further compression with the PDF conversion options won’t compress files smaller than the original compression. Inasmuch as the Settings button is active in the Open dialog box, you can’t actually get more compression out of the file when converting to PDF.

  • JPEG2000. JPEG2000 is a newer compression scheme that also offers a lossless option for compressing images. You can use JPEG2000 with lossless compression for the most discriminating quality required in high-end printing.
  • Microsoft Office (Windows only). Microsoft Office files are from the office programs of Excel, PowerPoint, Project, Visio, Word, and Publisher. Each of the Office programs is listed separately because you can edit different settings that apply to each respective program.

On the Mac, you can convert Word, Excel, and PowerPoint files from within Acrobat, but you don’t have access to settings options.

  • PCX. PCX files are native to the PC and were commonly used as an extension for PC Paintbrush. Adobe Photoshop can export in PCX format, but today it is rarely used for any kind of image representation. The advantage you have in opening PCX files in Acrobat is when converting legacy files saved in this format.

Rather than your having to do a two-step operation of opening a PCX file in an image editor and saving in a more common format for file conversions, Acrobat can import the files directly.

  • PICT (Macintosh only). The native Apple Macintosh equivalent to PCX (preceding bullet) is PICT (Picture). Photoshop supports PICT file exchanges in both opening and saving. However, Acrobat supports the format for conversion to PDF only via the From File or From Multiple Files commands.
  • PNG. Portable Network Graphics (PNG—pronounced ping) is a format enabling you to save 24- bit color images without compression. The format was designed for Web use and is becoming more popular among Web designers. Older Web browsers need a special plug-in in order to view the images, which have slowed its wide acceptance.

Interestingly enough, PNG images are saved from image editors without compression, yet Acrobat can apply image compression when converting to PDF. You can use all the compression options in the Adobe DF Settings dialog box with PNG images to reduce file sizes.

  • PostScript/EPS. PostScript and EPS files were formerly converted only with Acrobat Distiller. In Acrobat 8 you can open the files in Acrobat using the Create PDF tool and Distiller works in the background, handling the conversion to PDF.
  • Text. Text listed in the Convert to PDF preferences relates to plain text files. Unformatted text from word processors, text editors, and any file saved in a text-only format can be opened in Acrobat.
  • TIFF. Tagged Image File Format (TIFF) is by far the most popular format among the print people regardless of platform. TIFF files originate from image editors and scans. When scanning text you can save it as a TIFF, import the file in Acrobat, and then convert the image file to rich text with Acrobat’s Text Recognition feature.
  • XPS. XPS (XML Paper Specification) is a paginated representation of an electronic paper in an XML based format. XPS documents can be converted to PDF from within Acrobat in Acrobat 8. The Settings adjustments let you choose from any of the Adobe PDF Settings except the standards formats such as PDF/A and PDF/X.