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Blog Derek Murray's Top Tip: Making PDF files for idiots savant 9/May/2004

Time will come, one day, when you find yourself in a very sticky situation. Maybe it seemed like writing the dissertation in Word would make it easier on your poor, calloused fingertips. But it turns out that your supervisor's a dogmatic fool who won't stand for anything less than Acrobat format.

A-ha! you think, you'll just scp it across to a Linux box, open it in OpenOffice.org, print to PostScript, and ps2pdf the results. Well you'd be wrong, and your supervisor wouldn't cross the road to defecate on a burning copy of the outcome. And he'd be right, for once.

Perhaps little Jimmy or Janey let slip the rumour that when you "Print to file..." in Windows, you get a PostScript file. Perhaps they neglected to mention that nine-times-out-of-ten, what you actually get is an embarrassment, tantamount to walking around Galashiels with John Davidson.

No, it turns out that, as with so many things in life, there are rules to this dangerous game. These I set down before you here, so that they may improve your life, and deprive Adobe of some more ill-gotten gains. Or at least save you having to download Acrobat from Kazaa.

  1. Install the Apple Color LaserWriter 12/660 PS driver. This is supplied with Windows, so don't fret. Install it on port FILE:, since I'm willing to bet that you don't actually have one of these. (An aside: you install the drivers for a colour printer, in order that you can have nice grayscale and colour PDFs. Installing the drivers for, say, the Apple LaserWriter plus would also work, but it would produce hideously half-toned PDFs that would look appalling on screen, if passable on paper.)
  2. Download and install copies of GhostScript and GSView. This will save having to get your hands dirty at a command-line, which is probably what brought you here in the first place.
  3. Print your document (from whatever application) using the newly-installed LW driver. Save the output file somewhere that you can remember.
  4. Using GSView, open the output file.
  5. Go to File menu > Convert.... For the device, select pdfwrite; select a resolution of 300 dpi; and use your intuition regarding the other options.
  6. Click OK, give a filename, and there you have it - a perfectly usable, portable copy of your magnum opus.

So, I hope that's helped you. And, if it's left you wondering why I had to render my advice in such a bizarrely flippant manner, let's just say that there's no pleasant answer to that.

Cheers,

Derek.

 
CommentsComments 

Chris said:
Can't you just use the built-in PDF export in OpenOffice.org?

Or, indeed, use \LaTeX! Use LyX. :)

Chris Miller said:
Or in fact, write it in LaTeX... don't be a fool all your life!

Matt Gemmell said:
Or, indeed, get a Mac. :p

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