Curated by: Luigi Canali De Rossi

Thursday, November 29, 2001

Creating Acrobat PDF files without Acrobat and for free

Sponsored Links

In this article:

3. PS2PDF Postscript® to PDF Converter
4. Text2PDF
5. Other resources

PDF or Portable Document Format is an electronic file format standard, developed by Adobe Inc. in the US, which allows the conversion of any type of electronic document (Word, Excel, Photoshop, Pagemaker, etc.) to a proprietary format which allows:

a) Significant savings in file size. Everything is compressed with controllable loss of quality.

b) A file that can be read by all types of computers. Not just Windows PCs, but also Macs, Unix and Linux boxes, HP, Sun and more.

c) A true-to-the-original reproduction of the original file layout, colours and fonts allowing recipients to see complex artwork just as the original designer. The recipient does not need to have any of the applications the designer has originally used nor any of the fonts utilized in it.

d) PDF files can also be edited with Adobe Acrobat software to create high levels of interactivity, embedding of other content objects, and creating sophisticated indexes and table of contents to access large publishing collections.

There are many useful applications for Acrobat PDF files that many people are not aware of.

a) Using Acrobat files for presentations.

b) Using Acrobat files for delivering final reliable output files to your External Printing dept. or Print shop.

c) For revisions and comments.

d) For automatically creating offline copies of Internet web sites

e) Producing electronic versions of books or publications for easy distribution and re-use.

While until now, most people have had to resort to simply be passive users of Acrobat PDF files, there are now services and technologies that can finally allow you to author Acrobat PDF files without having to buy Adobe software.

These tools are very simple and straightforward to use and allow you to create PDF documents in a matter of minutes. You need to have an Internet connection and follow the exact steps I outline here for you.

Here is a set of reviews to online services which allow you to convert document and graphic files to PDF without having to buy Adobe Acrobat.


This is an extremely simple and basic service which allows you to convert any web page or document available online to a PDF in a matter of minutes and for free.

Stand as immediate limitations the inability to select the final PDF page format or any other custom option.

For what you need to pay for it, PDF-O-MATIC offers an excellent, though very basic service.

Click here to go to the top of this page !


Convert your document into PDF without expensive software or subscription. Both PC and Mac platforms are supported. goBCL will take your document, and generate an accurate PDF representation of it.

Supported inout file formats to genrate PDF files:
RTF (Rich Text Format)
TXT (Simple Text Format)
DOC (MSWord(R) Format)
XLS (MSExcel(R) Format)
PPT (MSPowerPoint(R) Format)

Click on the Browse button to locate the file in your harddrive.
Make sure the size is less than 5 MB (5,242,880 bytes).

When using this online service make sure that your PDF file does not utilize special characters and fonts which may not be embedded in the file you want to be converted. In most cases you will encounter no problem in using this service for most of your PowerPoint or Word files.

Click here to go to the top of this page !

3) PS2PDF Postscript® to PDF Converter

PS2PDF is a robust service that allows you to make an Acrobate® file without owning or having any special software.

The goal of this service is to make PDF file creation simple for light and moderate users.

It supports both Mac and Windows users or for that matter any computer capable of generating print-to-disk Postscirpt files.

For serious, professional, heavy users it is best to use the freely available AFPL Ghostscript. This is the same software utilized to provide the PS2PDF online service.

To create a Portable Document Format (PDF) file or Acrobat file requires several simple steps.

1) Start to print your document to a Postscript printer. If you don't already have a Postscript printer installed my recommendations below.

2) When the printer dialog box pops up select the checkbox that says "print to file" and select a file name.

3) After the document is printed go to the Convert page and follow the instructions to upload the file. After the file is uploaded and converted on our servers you will have a link to the PDF file.

4) To view the file you can simply select the link To save the file on your local hard drive right click (or hold the mouse button down on a Macintosh) and select "Save as".

N.B.: Even though you don't have a Postscript compatible printer you can still make a Postscript file. Normally if you have a printer already attached to your system that "speaks" Postscript all you have to do is check the box that says "print to file" after you print a document to the printer. This will make a file that you can then use on to make a Portable Document File.

If you don't already have a Postscript printer you can still install the Postscript printer driver on your system as if you owned a printer. When asked for the "device" that the printer is attached to just select "file". Now when you print it will create a Postscript file.

The software engine running behind this free online service is called AFPL Ghostscript and this is in turn a freely downloadable software which you can further customize and use.

AFPL Ghostscript does not support a page size specification, therefore PS2PDF does not support a page size specification. By default all pages are converted using the US standard 8 1/2 x 11 portrait page.

There is a limit of 8 MB to the size of the file you can "upload" for processing. This is a very large file and will take several minute to upload.

(If you need to be converting lots of large files I suggest that you install a local copy of AFPL Ghostscript. Go download it at any of the resources listed at:

To get a color PDF file you need to use a print driver that supports color. I suggest to utilize the Color HP LaserJet 5 printer driver.

The output page size will always be 8 1/2 x 11 inches. The converter could be using a substitute font. To prevent this try selecting the option in the printer driver options to "download the font". This will make the file larger but it might also solve the problem.

To convert files on your own computer without having to upload them to the PS2PDF web site install AFPL Ghostscript on your local computer. It is available for many computer platforms and in it is fairly easy to install.

Download and learn more about Ghostscript at:

Click here to go to the top of this page !

4) Text2PDF

Create your own PDF with txt2pdf.cgi 2.0

With this service you can create basic PDF files from basic texts blocks. This does not mean that you cannot have nice breaks and paragraphs, but that you cannot take advantage of other formatting features you may have used like special fonts or colors.

When you utilize this free service make sure you fill out properly all of the fields available including the Title box that you find just above the text input box.

Click here to go to the top of this page !

Other resources

There are several very good internet sites that give information on postscript and portable document format files.

Readers' Comments    
2004-03-16 21:52:10


how to read without acrobat ?

posted by Robin Good on Thursday, November 29 2001, updated on Tuesday, May 5 2015

Search this site for more with 








    Curated by

    New media explorer
    Communication designer


    POP Newsletter

    Robin Good's Newsletter for Professional Online Publishers  



    Real Time Web Analytics