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How to Create a PDF File… And What You Need to Know About File Formats

Confused by different document and image file formats? Unable to open documents you are sent? Need to create a PDF file? Follow this guide on what you need to know about files, formats and how to create PDF documents easily for sharing online.

Technology has advanced so much in the past decade: so much so that the filing cabinet and even letters themselves – are slowly becoming obsolete.

The internet and more sophisticated computers mean that paperwork – in the physical form at least – is now largely a thing of the past for many homes and offices.

Understanding File Formats

There are plenty of formats and file types you can use to save your work on a computer; either on a PC or Apple Mac.

Regardless of what computer you use, a computer file can be anything from a document produced in a word processor, a photograph captured with a digital camera or even a video clip.

But do not assume they are all the same file, even if they appear to look alike. As an example, lets look at a very popular program – Microsoft Word.

A Word document can be saved in a variety of different file formats, such as Word 97- 2003, Word document or Word Template: if the file is not saved as the right version of Word, you may not be able to view or edit the contents on your computer.

When it comes to digital photographs which you have uploaded onto your computer, if it is a PC or Apple Mac, pictures are normally saved in JPEG file format and depending on the type of computer you are using, just like Word documents, there are many formats in which you can store pictures.

It is always a good tip to double check the dropdown box before clicking the ‘save’ button to make sure you have the right format, as it can be difficult to change or transfer an image file if it is not compatible.

Most of the time you will not have to worry about a file’s format as when double-clicking the file your computer typically knows to open it in the relevant application.

The only reason why there are so many file formats is simply because of competition and the fact that newer versions are constantly being released.

What Are the Most Important File Formats to Remember?

The most useful file formats to remember out of the hundreds out there are the DOC format files, which are Word and word processor files. With the launch of Office 2007, these files often also require an ‘x’ to be added to the end of the existing Microsoft file format.

For photos, it would the JPEG format. The Joint Photographic Experts Group or better known as JPEG is standard for compressing still images. The format is very popular as it allows for a variable compression range.

JPEGS are saved on a sliding scale based on the quality desired. The image can be saved in high quality for printing, in medium quality for the web and in low quality for attaching to e-mails, as these file formats provide the smallest file size for fastest transmission: the bigger the file the longer it takes to upload or be sent around the web.

As versatile as the JPEG format can be it is, however, not suitable for graphs, charts or illustrations because of the low resolution and compressed image can become blurry.  For images such as this opt instead for a GIF or PNG file format.

File Sharing via PDF

The easiest and most concise way to share documents is to use PDF files. PDF’s or portable document format files are commonly used.

This is the favoured file format for a lot of users, both personal and professional, to store documents on the web and distribute them through their email every day. The most popular software used to create PDF files is Adobe Acrobat Professional.

You can download the software online and be ready to start turning all your documents into PDFs within minutes – Microsoft Office into easily transferable PDF file.

PDFs are best for sharing files with those who do not have the same software.

You can send files to people who use different platforms such as Macs, Windows or Linux.
No matter which platform you use, the files sent using PDF formatting, will look the same in terms of layout, fonts and design on the multiple computer systems available on the market.

PDF files are also a safe way of saving and sharing information electronically. The files can be protected from unauthorised viewing, printing, copying or editing as they are encrypted and are only able to be changed by the creator of the file. Once a PDF has been created it is only available as a ‘readable’ file.

There are two main methods of creating a PDF document. One is by saving an Office document as a PDF and the other by using a PDF creator to convert files from any application into a PDF document.

How to save PDFs

To save an Office document as a PDF:

1. Click on the ‘file’ tab
2. Then on ‘save as’
3. Choose a drive and folder in which you wish to save the document
4. Enter a file name
5. Click on the drop-down arrow ‘Save as type’ and select ‘PDF’ (*.pdf)
6. Press ‘save’ button

You can also use a PDF creator to transform documents into PDF files. To create a PDF file using the Print option, open the document:

• Open in any application, select the option to ‘print the document’
• Select ‘PDF creator’ as the printer to use
• Click on the ‘printer’ drop-down arrow and select ‘PDF creator’
• Click ‘print’
• Make changes where required and click ‘save’
• Choose the drive and folder in which you wish to save the file and enter a file name.

Once saved, the document will open using the Adobe Acrobat application and display your PDF version of your document. The file now is ready to be shared with via email and on the web.


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