INTRODUCTION TO ADOBE ACROBAT PDFs
Created by Maggie DeBaldo
University of Texas – Austin, School of Information
INTRODUCTION TO ADOBE ACROBAT PDFs
What is a PDF? And why do I need to know?
PDF stands for portable document format. A portable document format (PDF) can be
read on any computer and any platform (Windows, Mac, Unix). There are a variety of
programs which read PDFs, the most common being Adobe systems such as Adobe
Acrobat Professional, Adobe Reader, Adobe inDesign, etc.
PDFs are particularly useful for those in the information fields. Once a file or document
is converted to a PDF, the “look” is preserved exactly as it was intended. This includes
fonts, spacing, marginal notes, etc. Another positive function of PDFs is the ability to
compress the files. This function is handy in the case that you are putting together a large
document with text and graphs and which needs to be emailed to fellow classmates. Hey,
nobody likes one document to take up a large portion of email space!
Learn to create static PDFs on PC or Mac
Learn to add edit functions to static PDFs on PC or Mac
A LITTLE BIT ABOUT ADOBE
What are the uses of the different Adobe products?
There are many different Adobe products. The ones you will use in this tutorial are
Adobe Acrobat Reader, Adobe Acrobat Professional, and Adobe Acrobat InDesign.
Adobe Acrobat Reader is a product that can be downloaded for free from the Adobe
. In this program, you can read and print PDFs.
Adobe Acrobat Professional is the most versatile program for the beginning user. In this
program, you can create static PDFs. You can also edit or add comments to PDFs.
Adobe Acrobat Designer is the program in which you create dynamic PDFs.
PDF: Portable Document Format. A document that can be read on any type of computer
and on any platform as long as the reading software is available. Example: Adobe
Acrobat Reader or Adobe Acrobat Professional
Freeware: This is software that is free to download. However, users are not allowed to
access or change the program code. Example: Adobe Acrobat Reader
Static: Unchanging. Example: the text of a scanned file
CREATING STATIC PDFs
There are several ways to create static PDFs. You can:
create a PDF by converting a file
create PDF by converting multiple files
create PDF by converting a website
create PDF by scanning a document
CREATE PDFs FROM FILE
There are three different ways to create a PDF from a file. It all depends on what
program you are starting from. If you want to convert a saved file (any program) to a
PDF, use Method 1. If you have a Microsoft Office application open (Word, Excel, etc.),
use Method 2. If you have any other application open (Text Edit, etc.), use Method 3.
METHOD 1: This is the most basic method of converting a saved file to a PDF. The
saved file can be saved in a variety of programs, from any of the Microsoft Office
products to the very basic text editing programs, like TextEdit.
First, open Adobe Acrobat Professional. On the icon toolbar, you will see an icon labeled
“Create PDF” tag. Click on this and a menu will appear. Choose the first option, “From
File.” Alternatively, you can type Control + N. (On Mac, Apple + N).
A browse window will pop up, allowing you to search for the file. After you’ve found
the correct file, click on the file name and click Open.
METHOD 2: Let’s say you are working in an open application of one of the Microsoft
Office products, (such as Word, Excel, or PowerPoint). You want to convert your source
document to a PDF, so you can easily email it. This is an easy method to do that.
Once your source document is open, click on “Convert to
Adobe PDF” icon on the Adobe toolbar.
If the toolbar is not visible, got to the View
menu, Toolbars, Adobe Acrobat PDFMaker
Once you’ve clicked on the “Convert to Adobe PDF” icon, a window will pop up asking
you to save the file. Only a saved file can be converted. So if you do not agree to save
the file when this window pops up, the file that will be converted is the last saved copy of
the document. After you have agreed (or not) to save the file, a menu will pop up
prompting you to choose a location to save to. After you have chosen your location, click
“Save.” The file will then convert to a PDF. To view the new PDF, click on “View
File,” and the document will open in Adobe Acrobat Pro.
METHOD 3: This method could be used when you are in other word processing
applications. Let’s say you are working on coding HTML in TextEdit. You want a
colleague to look at the code and give feedback, but you do not want this colleague to be
able to directly edit your text. In this case, converting to a PDF would be important,
because your colleague could read the document but could not directly edit it.
First, open your source document. On
the tool bar, open the File menu and
select “Print” or Control + P. (On Mac,
Apple + P). After the Print window
pops up, select as your print Adobe
PDF and click OK.
A menu will pop up prompting you to choose a file name and a location to save the file.
Notice on the bottom of this window that the file is being saved as .pdf.
After you have done this, click Save. This step uses a function similar to “save as” to
convert the saved file to a saved PDF.
To open the file as a PDF, open Adobe Acrobat Pro. Within the File menu, select Open
and browse for the location where you saved the converted file.
CREATE PDFs FROM MULTIPLE FILES
This function is helpful if you have several documents that you want to combine into one
file. Let’s say that you’ve been working on a group project, and each person in the group
has saved his/her portion of the project as a PDF. You need to combine all of the PDFs
into one file. Here’s how to do that.
To start, open Adobe Acrobat Pro. On the icon bar, select the “Create PDF” icon and
scroll to the “From Multiple Files” line.
A window will pop up directing you to “Add Files” (or browse for your files). Click on
“Choose” and you can then browse for your files. After you have highlighted the file
name of the file you want to add, select “Add.” Continue this process until you have
found all the files you want to combine into one PDF.
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If you need to rearrange how the files are combined into a PDF, the left side of this
window allows you to delete, move files up or move files down within the completed
PDF. You can also preview the PDF to make sure everything looks just right.
**Note: Creating a PDF from multiple files requires that all files being combined are
formatting as PDFs first.
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CREATE PDFs FROM A WEBPAGE
In this scenario, let’s say you have found an amazing website and want to print it out. A
website is made up of multiple webpages, so you'll need to follow the following steps for
First, go to the webpage you want converted to a PDF. Then open Adobe Acrobat Pro.
On the icon bar, select the “Create PDF” icon and scroll to the “From Web Page” line.
Alternatively, you can press Control + O. (On Mac, Shift + Apple + O).
Now a window should pop up, allowing you to enter or browse for the URL address of
the webpage you want converted.
Adobe Acrobat Pro will automatically convert the webpage. It may take anywhere from
several seconds to a minute or two to convert the webpage, depending on how much and
what kind of information is being converted.
Some things to be aware of when converting a webpage:
Webpages often use font sizes larger than what you normally see in a document.
So when you convert a webpage, you may be converting text with a font size
anywhere from 14-18 points, which will look strange on paper.
Webpages often use spacing as a way to make text easy to read on a monitor.
When a page is converted to a PDF, however, you may see much more space than
is normally needed in a printable document.
CREATE A PDF FROM A SCANNED DOCUMENT
There are several ways to create a PDF from a scanned document. In this tutorial, you
will learn the method which is based out of Acrobat Pro. Additionally, this tutorial will
specify the process using the scanners available in the iSchool IT lab. Although the
basics will probably be the same for most scanners, some variation can be expected.
First, make sure a scanner is hooked up to the PC. The lab scanners connect by USB
ports. Also, make sure the scanner is plugged in and turned on.
To begin converting a scannable document to a PDF, go to the “Create PDF” icon on the
icon bar and scroll down to “From Scanner.”
A window will pop up prompting you to choose a scanner.
Before moving on, let’s take a look at this window to find out what everything means:
Scanner: Here you choose which scanner to use. Generally, there will only be
one choice unless more than one scanner is connected to the computer you’re
Scan: Here you decide whether to scan 1 side only (specified as “Front Side”) or
both sides. The flatbed scanners available in the IT lab can only scan one side at a
Destination: For the purposes of this tutorial, “Destination” is not an option. Just
as an FYI, however, this option is used if you are scanning a document to be
added to a PDF which is already open.
Recognize Text Using OCR: OCR stands for Optical Character Recognition. This
is a process by which a computer can read scanned text as if it was written in
Add Tags to Document: This is an option by which tags can be added to
documents as headings, thereby facilitating an increased accessibility for disabled
For the purposes of this tutorial, choose a scanner and click “Scan.”
Here, the scanner software will temporarily take over. In the lab, this is Epson software.
Follow the prompts through until your document has been scanned. (This will consist of
2 processes: the first scan tells the software what kind of graphics are on the document:
black/white or color, text only, line art (this means simple graphics like graphs), or
photgraphs and how the software should accommodate this structure. The second scan
actually scans the document into a file.
After the document is scanned, a window will pop up
prompting you to continue with further scanning or not.
If you have more pages to scan, click “Next.” If you
only have one page to scan, click “Done.”
After clicking “Done,” your scanned document will
appear as a PDF.
EDITING STATIC PDFs IN ADOBE ACROBAT PRO ON PCs
Adobe Acrobat Pro includes editing functions on its toolbar. Editing functions in this
case means mark-up capabilities. Although Acrobat Pro has the function to actively edit
a PDF, this tutorial won’t address that.
In this portion of the tutorial, you will learn how to:
Insert, Move, Delete a Comment (aka Notes) window
Highlight, Underline, Cross-out Text
View and Hide Comments
Open Adobe Acrobat Pro. On the icon tool, you will see the Comment & Markup icon.
Clicking on the words, not the pull-down menu arrow, will open the Comment toolbar.
Notice that the Text Edit pull-down menu allows for the user to add a note and the mark-
ups to replace, highlight, underline, and cross-out text. Note that text within the PDF
must be highlighted in order for all of the options to be available.
For this tutorial, I will be using parts of the old iSchool TA application to illustrate the
Inserting a note is an effective way to include more substantial comments to a PDF.
Think of the notes function as margins in a paper document. There are two ways to insert
a note. If you want to place a note where the curser is positioned in the text, you can
select the Note Tool tab on the Comment toolbar. Alternatively, if you have text
selected, you can select the pull-down menu of the Text Edits tab on the Comment
toolbar and select “Add Note To Selected Text.” Once the note is inserted, it should look
If you want to hide the comment box, click on the “x” in the upper right hand corner
(circled in the image above). This causes the window to collapse, leaving the small
yellow icon (also circled) signifying that a note has been placed at this point in the text.
To view the comment box again, simply click or double click on this same icon.
To move a comment, click on the either the comment box (if it is open) or on the
comment icon. Drag the box to where you want it moved. Moving a comment does not
allow you to insert the comment into another part of the document. It merely repositions
where the open comment box appears when maximized.
Let’s say that a colleague has reviewed your document and inserted comments. You
have since looked at the comments and are ready to delete them from your PDF. To
delete a comment, Control + Click on the open comment box or the comment box icon
and select delete from the menu which pops up.
You can follow similar steps to insert, move, and delete notes about replacing text,
denoted by a carrot, and deleting text, denoted by strike-through text followed by a carrot.
HIGHLIGHT, UNDERLINE, DELETE TEXT
These are simple ways to easily draw attention to areas of the text you’re marking up. On
the comments toolbar, you will see an icon of a T with a pen drawing a line through it.
This is the pull-down menu to select if you want to highlight, underline, or delete
(meaning strike-through) text.
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