Creating PDF files


PDF (Portable Document Format) files are cross platform files used for sending an electronic version of a document to someone especially if the person does not need to edit the file. For example, if you need to send your resume to an interviewer, a PDF file is an excellent choice. This is because it will look the same on any computer screen on any computer platform (Mac, Windows, Unix). Also, if the file is printed on any reasonably good printer, the printed version will look exactly how you intended it to look no matter what computer platform is used. The software (Acrobat reader) required to view PDF files is available free from Adobe's website (

PDF files can be made from any file that can be printed. In order to create PDF files on the Macintosh computers in our group follow these steps:

  1. Open the file you want to make a PDF file of. For example, if you have a ChemDraw file that you want to convert to a PDF file double click on it in the finder. Alternatively you can drop the file on the desktop printer and the print dialog window will appear (skip to step 3).

  2. Choose Print from the file menu

  3. In the upper right-hand menu of the print dialog window, choose Destination: file.
    The button in the lower right hand corner switches from Print to Save.

  4. Click the Save button.

  5. Save the file wherever you prefer (I generally use the desktop)--leave the .pdf filename extension. If you ultimately plan on putting the PDF file on the web or emailing it use "_" instead of spaces in the filename.

  6. The file will be spooled to the desktop printer, automatically converted into a PDF file, and saved where you indicated


Last Updated: October 5, 2001
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