PDF Creation Software

How to create a PDF file from any software package

After printing millions of pages for customers we’ve found many things that work and don’t work. We certainly do everything we can to work within your workflow but there are some limitations on what we’re able to do!

Adobe Acrobat is the gold standard for PDF creation, since the PDF spec was invented by Adobe. If you have it, use it. If not, we’ve found the programs listed below to have reliable output in most cases*. They’ve been tested by our creators and printers and have been put through rigorous tests to make sure that the PDF created will be print ready. Programs that aren’t included on this list (such as open source or small, independent creators) can create digital PDFs perfect for viewing on a computer screen - but only for that. When sent through production on an industrial print floor they are unreliable and can print in a way that is unexpected (and unwanted!).

  • Known cases for printing woes are special effects, such as drop shadows, text outlines, photo frames, and complex vector artwork. If you use such effects in your book, we strongly recommend you use Acrobat. It is expensive, but works and not nearly as costly as failed printing output. Some known programs that we’ve seen issues with are: Microsoft Publisher 2003, Microsoft Word 2010 or earlier, wkhtmltopdf, and PDFs below version 1.5.

Like all on-demand printers, we're not able to review everything about your file before printing. This is why if you find concerns that were caused by the files you uploaded then we aren’t able to reprint or refund those orders. It's also why we try to provide you with as much information as possible to optimize your PDF!

We have some great information on optimizing your PDF for printing with us at our PDF Specs page.

Here are some crucial settings to remember:
  1. Use the "Print" or "Press" settings for the maximum printing quality.
  2. Make sure all fonts are embedded
  3. Make sure you use sRGB colorspace
  4. Two page spreads should begin with page 2 since our pages start on the right
  5. Keep in mind the Cropping And Bleed for your project

PDF Creation Tools

Many of these programs install as printer drivers so from any application, you simply select "Print" and print to the "PDF Printer" that will generate the PDF file for you.

Adobe Acrobat Standard

Price: Varies
"Adobe Acrobat 7.0 Standard software is the simple way to create and share more secure and reliable Adobe PDF documents. Generate Adobe PDF files that accurately represent the original document, and take advantage of robust tools for sharing information and commenting on electronic files."

Adobe InDesign

Price: Varies
Adobe InDesign is an industry-leading design software that lets you create beautiful and fully customized layouts and PDFs. It's one of our favorites here at Photobooks.Pro! We even have some great information on creating InDesign PDFs for printing with us.

Foxit PDF Converter

Price: Free
"Over 325 Million Users
Small, Fast, & Feature Rich PDF Reader
Free PDF Creation / PDF Conversion
Protects Against Security Vulnerabilities"

neevia docuPrinter LT

Price: $19
"This is a PDF printer driver that can be used to create high-quality and searchable PDF files from any Windows application. You can also convert EPS and PostScript documents to PDF using the drag and drop feature, combine documents into a single PDF file, select the output resolution and compression, send via email, convert MS Word/PowerPoint headings, hyperlinks and forms into PDF bookmarks, links and forms."

neevia docuPrinter Pro

Price: $49
"A printer driver that allows you to convert your Windows documents not only to a universally accepted PDF but also to various image formats. docuPrinter Pro answers the need for a low-cost, yet easy to implement and use PDF/Image file creation solution. It has all the features the LT version has plus: EPS, PostScript, TEXT, JPEG, TIFF, PNG, PCX PSD, BMP and PCL-XL output formats and 40/128 bit PDF encryption support"

Pdf995

Price: FREE
"Pdf995 is a printer driver that works with any Postscript to PDF converter. The pdf995 printer driver and a free Converter are available for easy download." Distributed with a version of ghostscript that may cause printing problems.

PDFCreator

Price: FREE
"PDFCreator is a free tool to create PDFs easily from nearly any application. With the PDFCreator Printer driver you turn any program into a PDF-machine"

AcroPDF

Price: $69
"Convert your documents to Adobe PDF format quickly and easily. AcroPDF installs as a virtual printer and is accessible from any program that offers a Print option. It allows you to create PDF files from any printable document (.doc, .xls, .ppt, .vsd, images, text, web pages etc.)"

CutePDF (Freeware)

Does not support custom page size in Windows 98 or ME. Comes with a version of ghostscript that sometimes gives PDF printing problems. Uninstalling can cause deletion of files that Cute did not install. We don't recommend this application.

Mac: the easiest frontier

Mac users can easily save out PDFs from their computer. Simply select File —> Print —> Save as PDF. The new Apple program “Pages” also offers an option to export your file as a PDF. Mac OS X creates a PDF 1.3 version, and has limited support for effects like drop shadows. See the warning above, and use Acrobat if your document makes use of special effects.