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Your Complete How-to Guide on PDF Documents

Download the PDFComputer screen with a PDF graphic on top

Did you know that saving a document as PDF is not the end of securing it? You can still make that document secure so that even a person with editing software cannot alter the content of the document. There are so many other things you can learn about one of the most used file types. This how-to guide will attempt to exhaust everything you need to know about PDFs.

What Does PDF Stand for?

So many people are used to simply referring to it as PDF and never give thought to what it stands for:

P-D-F = Portable-Document-Format.

PDF is a read-only file which means you cannot edit it and that makes it a good format to save and share files in. When a document is saved as a PDF, it is also compressed and secured. You can save, share, and open these files easily.

How to Create a PDF?

Have you been instructed to save a file as PDF and you’re wondering how to go about that? Relax, it is a very simple process as long as you’re using a program that can print files. Any program that can print, can also create PDFs. It is also possible to do it using web pages.

If you are using a program like Word or Excel, simply choose the “Save As” option, and in the File Format menu, choose PDF and then save.

How to Make a PDF Using Acrobat?

Making a PDF in Adobe Acrobat is easy:

  1. Go to tools in Acrobat and choose “Create PDF”.
  2. Choose from Single, Multiple, Scan, or other options of files you wish to make the PDF from.
  3. You can then select either create or Next according to the file type you selected in step 2 above.
  4. Convert the file to PDF by following the prompts and then save in the location of your choice.

How to Create a PDF File from a Webpage?

You might want to save a webpage as PDF so that you can read it later offline or maybe you need to use certain data in a table. Whatever the reason, you can quickly create PDF document from a webpage using the following procedure.

First: When you are on the webpage you wish to save, right-click on the page and choose “Print” (you can also use Ctrl + P).

Second: A dialogue box will appear and in the box that says “Destination” click and choose Save as PDF.

Third: Click “Save” and then choose the folder you want to save it in when the Save As box appears. The webpage will be saved as a PDF in the folder you have specified.

How to Create an Editable PDF?

This may sound a bit strange considering PDF is not considered to be an editable file type. However, you can have fillable PDF forms where signatures can be added or even calculations.

To do this you will need PDF editing software like Acrobat. Here’s the procedure:

Step 1: Go to Acrobat and click “Tools” then “Prepare Form”

Step 2: Choose the file you want to make an editable PDF, alternatively scan the document and Acrobat will analyze then add form fields.

Step 3: Add fields to the document using the toolbar at the top as well as the tools on the right pane.

Step 4: To share the form, click “Distribute” or you can save it for future use.

How to Create a PDF from Word?

If you want to share a Word document but ensure that the formatting remains the same no matter what device or program the recipient opens it in, then you should create a PDF of that Word document. To do that, follow these steps:

Step 1: Open the Word document.

Step 2: Click File and in the dropdown menu, choose “Save As.”

Step 3: On the box that appears, choose PDF in the “Save as type” section.

Step 4: Confirm the location where you want the file to be saved and then click Save.

How to Create a URL Link for a PDF Document?

The best way to share a large PDF document is to create a URL link for the document and then share that link with the recipients. This saves you from worry that the file might be too big and will be bounced by the email server.

The first step would be to save the document in a location that can be accessed easily by anyone with the link. Public storage like Dropbox is a good option. With that done, you can then follow the following steps:

  • Using Adobe Acrobat, upload the file you want to create a link for. (Simply click on “Upload a file” in the Home interface).
  • Now import the document you intend to make a link for.
  • Select the PDF document and then click “Share.” A link will be generated for the document.

You can now share the URL in an email or even on your website so that people can click and be directed to the PDF document.

How to Type on a PDF?

Let's say you discover some text missing in your PDF file and you would like to add it without going back to the text editor. This is actually as easy as cutting cake. You just need Adobe Reader DC for your PC or Mac. You can download it free if it's not already installed and then follow these steps.

Step 1: Go to Adobe Reader DC

Step 2: Select “Tools” at the top of Adobe Reader DC Window.

Step 3: From the menu that appears, select “Fill & Sign.”

Step 4: Click “Select a File” to find the PDF file you want to type on.

Step 5: Select “Fill and sign” which will open the PDF for typing.

Step 6: On the toolbar, click the Ab icon to reveal the text tool.

Step 7: Place the cursor in the area you want to type and click for the typing space to appear.

Step 8: Click the typing area and begin to type the text.

How to Edit a PDF?

If you cannot locate the original file and all you have is a PDF or you just want to update a file with minor detail, it is possible to do it from the PDF. This guide will teach you how to edit a PDF file using Adobe Acrobat.

  1. Open the file you want to edit in Acrobat DC.
  2. Find the “Edit PDF” tool and click on it.
  3. The tool will reveal other editing tools that you can use to: Add text, resize images, add watermark, replace images, change fonts, etc.
  4. Name the edited PDF and save.

How to Combine PDF Files?

So, you have multiple PDF files with similar content and you would like to combine them. Using Acrobat you can quickly achieve this and have a more orderly file. Follow these steps and have your file combined in a few minutes.

  • Either “select files or you can drag and drop the files in the drop zone.
  • Using the PDF merger tool, choose the files you intend to combine.
  • Arrange the files in the order you want them to appear then click “Merge files.”
  • You can now download the merged PDF file and organize it as you please.

You can follow the same steps if you were searching for how to merge PDF files.

How to Reduce PDF File Size?

There are many reasons you may need to reduce the size of a PDF file. It could be too large to send as an attachment, it might be taking up too much space on your device or it could be a regulation that files must be a certain size. So what can you do to get it reduced?

Here’s your guide:

Save as Reduced Size

  • With your file open in the latest version of Acrobat, click “File”.
  • Choose “Save as Other and then click “Reduced Size PDF.”
  • When prompted to select version compatibility, click Acrobat X.

This option however will alter the quality of images and doesn't give you much control over what is changed, for example, digital signatures will be removed.

Use PDF Optimizer

If you wish to have more control over the elements reduced in the document, then Adobe Acrobat PDF Optimizer is a better option.

It is necessary however to study the document first and determine which elements may need to be reduced.

  • Go to File Save as Other and choose “Optimized PDF”.
  • Choose “Audit space usage” from the box that appears on the screen.
  • Select the elements that you wish to optimize. The space usage box can help guide your choices.
  • Click OK and the Acrobat will do the rest.

How to Sign a PDF?

Signing a PDF is not so different from adding text to such a document. In fact, you can type a signature or use an image of your actual signature. To do that you can follow these steps:

1. Use Acrobat or Reader to open the PDF document you intend to sign.

2. Select “Fill & Sign.

3. Click the icon for Sign. (it looks like the tip of a fountain pen).

4. Your signature of initials will be displayed as options if you have already added them and you can click the signature. If you are signing for the first time:

  • Proceed to the signature panel
  • Choose either Type, Draw, or Image
  • Select Save Signature and click Apply

5. You can enter the signature in the field provided and resize it accordingly.

How to Digitally Sign a PDF?

First of all, you need to create a digital signature that is encrypted, password-protected and authenticated. These are more secure than ordinary electronic signatures and are used for certification. If that is what you intend to use, then this is the right guide.

  1. Open the PDF to be signed.
  2. Select “Certificates.
  3. Within Certificates, click “Digitally Sign.”
  4. Drag the signature box to the area to be signed.
  5. Choose the signature you want to use then click continue.
  6. Verify the digital signature and then select “Sign.”

How to Write on a PDF?

There are 2 options to edit PDF files. First, you can use a PDF editor like Adobe Acrobat which will allow you to add, remove and change text within the PDF document. Alternatively, you can convert the document back to its original form. This could be Word, Excel, PPT, and so on. After that, you can write whatever you want and then save it again as a PDF.

How to Delete Pages From PDF?

  • Open the document you want to delete pages from.
  • Select “Organize Pages” in Acrobat.
  • Choose the thumbnails of the pages you want to delete
  • Click the bin icon on the right.
  • Confirm the action and then save the PDF with the changes made.

How to Insert PDF into Word?

  1. Open the Word document.
  2. Select Insert then choose text from file or Object from file depending on what you want to insert.
  3. In the popup box, find the PDF file and select it.
  4. Click “Insert” and you are done.

How to Remove Password From PDF?

You need to know the password first to be able to remove it.

  1. Open the document by entering the password.
  2. Go to tools and click the “Unlock” tool, Select Protect, then Encrypt and Remove Security.
  3. For PDFs with Document Open passwords, select “Ok” to remove the password.
  • If the PDF format has a permissions password, enter the password in the “Enter Password” space and click OK. You will need to reenter the password to confirm the action.

How to Convert PDF into Word?

You need a PDF to DOC converter to do this. You can find many options online. The most common one however is Adobe Acrobat. Simply drag and drop the PDF you want to be converted into the drop zone. Click convert and Acrobat will take care of everything. You can then download the converted document and open it in Word.

How to Convert Word Into PDF?

  1. Open the Word document.
  2. Click the Microsoft Office button and select “Save As.”
  3. In the next tab that opens, choose PDF or XPS.
  4. In the box that Opens, choose PDF in the Save as type area
  5. Click Save.

Best PDF Creators

There are several PDF creators online. Some of these are free and others paid for. Based on popularity, functionality, and added tools, here is a list of the top-rated ones:

  • Adobe Acrobat PC
  • Microsoft Word
  • Google Docs
  • PDFelement
  • PDF-XChange Editor

Tags Start & End

Tags Can Start & End Anywhere

Appendix B

.NET code for multi-page image output

Appendix A

Java code for multi-page image output

Data Bin Search

The Data Bin can now be searched to find a table, column, node or other piece of data without scrolling through it all.

Shrink to Fit

This will shrink the contents of a cell until it fits the defined cell size.

Time Zone Conversion

A new Windward macro has been added to help with converting dates and times from UTC time to the local time zone.

Image Output Format

New image output formats added.

PostScript Output Format

PostScript, commonly used with printers and printing companies, has been added as an additional output format.

New and Improved Datasets (Designer, Java Engine, .NET Engine)

Datasets have been re-written from scratch to be more powerful and easier to use.

Stored Procedure Wizard (Designer)

This works for all tag types that are connected to a SQL-based data source (Microsoft SQL Server, Oracle, MySQL, or DB2).

Boolean Conditional Wizard (Designer)

Before, conditional statements could only be written manually. Now they can also be built using our intuitive Wizard interface.

Reorganized Ribbon

The ribbon menus have been re-organized and consolidated to improve the report design workflow.

XPath 2.0 as Data Source

Adds various capabilities such as inequalities,descending sort, joins, and other functions.

If you've just discovered us, we're excited. Learn more about Windward document automation software now.

Try Windward with our 14-day free trial and start creating documents in quick time with our low/no code solutions.

SQL Select Debugger

SQL Select  Debugger

  • The look and feel was improved
  • Stored Procedure Wizard
  • Improved Exceptions pane

If you've just discovered us, we're excited. Learn more about Windward document automation software now.

Try Windward with our 14-day free trial and start creating documents in quick time with our low/no code solutions.

Tag Editor/Tag Selector

Added a Query tab as a field for typing or pasting in a select statement

  • Color Coding of Keywords
  • TypeAhead
  • Evaluate is now "Preview"

If you've just discovered us, we're excited. Learn more about Windward document automation software now.

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Rename a Datasource

All tags using that Data source will be automatically updated with that name.

If you've just discovered us, we're excited. Learn more about Windward document automation software now.

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Connecting to a Data Source

New single interface to replace 2 separate dialog boxes

If you've just discovered us, we're excited. Learn more about Windward document automation software now.

Try Windward with our 14-day free trial and start creating documents in quick time with our low/no code solutions.

Tag Tree

Displays of all the tags in the template, structured as they are placed in the template. This provides a simple & intuitive way to see the structure of your template. Also provides the capability to go to any tag and/or see the properties of any tag.

Added Javelin into the RESTful Engine

If you've just discovered us, we're excited. Learn more about Windward document automation software now.

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Support for Google Application Engine Integration

The ability to integrate the Windward Engine into Google’s cloud computing platform for developing and hosting web applications dubbed Google Applications Engine (GAE).

If you've just discovered us, we're excited. Learn more about Windward document automation software now.

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Additional Refinement for HTML Output

  • Improved indentation for ordered and unordered lists
  • Better handling of template header and footer images
  • Better handling for background images and colors

If you've just discovered us, we're excited. Learn more about Windward document automation software now.

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Redesigned PDF Output Support

This new  integration will allow for processing of complex scripts and bi-directional  text such as Arabic.  Your PDF output  will be much tighter and more closely match your template, and we’ll be able  to respond rapidly to PDF requests and fixes.

If you've just discovered us, we're excited. Learn more about Windward document automation software now.

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PowerPoint Support

Includes support for new ForEach and slide break handling, table header row repeat across slide breaks, and native Microsoft support for charts and images.

If you've just discovered us, we're excited. Learn more about Windward document automation software now.

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Tags are Color Coded

Tags are color coded in the template by type, making it easy to visually identify them.

If you've just discovered us, we're excited. Learn more about Windward document automation software now.

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Increased Performance

Version 13’s core code has been reworked and optimized to offer a reduced memory footprint, faster PDF generation and full documentation of supported features and limitations in the specifications for DOCX, XLSX and PPTX.

If you've just discovered us, we're excited. Learn more about Windward document automation software now.

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Advanced Image Properties

Documents can include advanced Word image properties such as shadows, borders, and styles.

If you've just discovered us, we're excited. Learn more about Windward document automation software now.

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Improved HTML Output

Windward has updated HTML output to reflect changing HTML standards.

If you've just discovered us, we're excited. Learn more about Windward document automation software now.

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Version 13 New Data Sources

Windward now works with a slew of new datasources: MongoDB, JSON, Cassandra, OData, Salesforce.com

If you've just discovered us, we're excited. Learn more about Windward document automation software now.

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Generate Code

The Generate Code tool in the designer allows you to open an existing template and, with a click of a button, automatically create a window with the code needed to run your current template with all data sources and variables. Simply copy this code and paste into your application's code in the appropriate place. You now have Windward integrated into your application.

You only need to do this once. You do not do this for each template. Instead, where it has explicit files for the template and output, change that to parameters you pass to this code. Same for the parameters passed to Windward. This example uses explicit values to show you what to substitute in where.

Pivot Tables Adjusted in Output

Any pivot tables in an XLSX template are carried over to the XLSX output. The ranges in the pivot ranges are adjusted to match the generated output. So your final XLSX will have pivot tables set as expected in the generated file.

This makes creating an XLSX workbook with pivot tables trivial.

Imported Template Can be Set to Match the Parent Styles

In an imported sub-template, if its properties for a style (ex. Normal) differ from the parent template's properties for the style, the use in the sub-template can be set to either use the properties in the sub-template, or the properties in the parent.

You set to retain when you don't want the child template's styling to change when imported. You set to use the parent when you want the styling of the imported template to match the styling in the parent.

Any explicit styling is always retained. This only impacts styling set by styles.

Tags can be Placed in Text Boxes

Tags can be placed in text boxes. Including linked text boxes. This gives you the ability to set the text in a textbox from your data.

Tags can be Placed in Shapes & Smart Art

Tags can be placed in shapes & smart art. This gives you the ability to set the text in a shape from your data.

HTML Output Supports Embedded Images

When generating HTML output, the engine can either write bitmaps as distinct files the generate HTML references, or it can embed the images in the HTML providing a single file for the output.

Footnotes & Endnotes can Have Tags

You can place tags in pretty much any part of a template, including in footnotes & endnotes.

Document Locking Supported in DOCX & XLSX

Any parts of a DOCX or XLSX (PowerPoint does not support this) file that are locked in the template, will be locked the same in the output.

Specify Font Substitution

If a font used in the template does not exist on the server generating a report, the font to substitute can be specified.
In addition, if a glyph to be rendered does not exist in the font specified, you can specify the replacement font. This can be set distinctly for European, Bi-Directional, and Far East fonts.

Process Multiple Datasources Simultaneously

If you need this - it's essential. And if you don't need it, it's irrelevant.

Windward enables you to build a document by applying multiple datasources to the template simultaneously. When Windward is merging the data into a template, it processes the template by handling each tag in order, and each tag pulls from different datasources. (As opposed to processing all of one datasource, then processing the next.)

This allows the select tag to use data from another datasource in its select. For example, if you are pulling customer information from one data source, you can then pull data from the sales datasource using the customer ID of the customer presently processing to pull the sales information for that customer. If you're interested in patching together your data from multiple datasources, read this post on our blog.

Genesis Abel

Written by:_
Genesis Abel

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