Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Free PDF creation and merging

Portable Document Format, more commonly known as PDF, is a great standardized format to use for files. Adobe Acrobat is one of the premier PDF creation and editing programs available, but it is expensive. There are free alternatives for teachers to use.

I post all of my files for students as PDF files so that they can not be edited. Also, everyone can get a free PDF reader, such as Acrobat Reader to view the files so I don’t have to worry about a student not having the software to view the file.

Creating the PDF file is very simple. I create the original file using a word processor or presentation program and then convert it to a PDF file using CutePDF Writer. CutePDF Writer is a free utility that installs onto your computer like a printer. You create your original file and then “print” it. Instead of selecting your printer, you select “CutePDF.” The software will convert the file to PDF form and ask you were you would like to save it. You can also use it to “print” any file, including web pages, to a PDF file. I use this often to save web articles for reading later.

There is also a free application available that allows you to merge multiple PDF files into one PDF file.

Quick PDF tools is a great resource. The software is easy to install and very easy to use and the website has easy to follow instructions. You simply select the PDF files you want to merge in Windows Explorer, right click, select QuickPDF tools, and select merge. You can then order them in the window in the order you want them merged, and then select merge. It is really that easy.

I have used both applications to create PDF files from PowerPoint presentation handouts and then merge those PDF files with downloaded PDF files to create a single file guidebook that I use when teaching Google for Educators.

I love the ability to save any file as a PDF file. I use it to post files to my class website for students to use, as well as to make backup copies of files that I know I will be able to open on any computer, regardless of the operating system or software.


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