What is PDF?
Portable Document Format. Adobe developed PDF as a tool to convert documents produced on any computer platform with any software into a self-contained new document that could be viewed on any other computer, using the the Acrobat Reader application. This was very handy. People who used different operating operating systems, who did not have the same type fonts, who did not have the same applications could use Acrobat Reader to view the document exactly as it looked on the original computer. Adobe made a version of Reader for Windows, Unix, Linux, Macintosh, and so on. They made Reader free and widely available and people began to use PDFs.
PDF started out as a tool to share documents solely for reading and office printing. The PDF format was refined and soon it was capable of delivering documents with all the quality and information needed for high-quality commercial printing. A correctly constructed high-quality PDF offered printers the option of trouble-free files for final output and they began promoting the PDF workflow.
It is critical that the PDF file is made properly. If the many options are not set correctly, the PDF will cause a crisis at the print shop.
Adobe has great resources on the Web.
A good starting page is: http://www.adobe.com/products/acrobat/adobepdf.html
Saving as a PDF from Applications
It is quick and easy
These "automatic" PDFs sometimes fail to work properly
If you should test them with the recipient. Iif they work, use them
If they fail or if you are sending the PDF to a new client, you should write a PostScript file and Distill it to PDF.
Writing to a PostScript file and Distilling a PDF
Most applications have an option to "write Postscript to file or print to file" (or words to that effect) in the Print command boxes. Choose this option and save the PS file in a handy location.
Select Adobe Acrobat or PDF as the Printer and the Acrobat driver.
Select the Save or Print and choose the destination for the PS file to save.
Launch Acrobat Distiller.
Choose the job options appropriate for your needs. For example, a small document to be e-mailed and read onscreen, or a high quality, high resolution file for output onto a printing plate.
Open the .ps file, or drag it onto Distiller.
Watch the message window for a report on the success, or not, of the operation.
After you have saved the PDF, you should open it with Acrobat Reader (or Acrobat Pro) and make sure it is working.
The PS file can be saved for later use or thrown away. In some cases you would distill a low resolution "screen" PDF to send via email for a quick check of design and copy, possibly distill a "print" quality PDF for the client to print in the office for reviewing, and, finally, distill a "press" quality PDF for the commercial printers to use.