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Sharing Documents in PDF Format

When you send documents via e-mail to clients or associates, do you convert them to PDF first? If you don't convert to PDF, then you are probably sending .doc (Word), .xls (Excel), or .pub (Publisher) files. You may run into a couple of issues when sending those types. First, the recipient may not have the right program (Word, Excel, Publisher, etc.) or version (XP, 2003, 2007, etc.), in which case they will not be able to view the file. The second issue is that those file types can have a very large file size (especially Publisher files), which can make your e-mails very slow for you to send and the recipient to receive.

PDF (Portable Document Format) is universally accepted as the format to use when transferring documents between different kinds of computers. Virtually every computer user will be able to open and print PDF files and PDF files also have a smaller file size, which is helpful when sending via e-mail. All you need is the free Adobe Reader available at Be sure NOT to install the Yahoo toolbar or other "bonus" software Adobe may offer, just install the Reader itself.

Adobe offers a product called Adobe Acrobat that allows you to convert documents to PDF, and I highly recommend Adobe Acrobat Professional if you are interested in creating your own electronic forms. However, that product can cost over $200, so if all you are interested in doing is converting your documents to PDF, you have several FREE options:

  1. Scan-to-e-mail using a copier the large copiers in our office are capable of scanning a document (even a lengthy contract with addenda) and sending it to you as an e-mail. This e-mail will come in the form of a message with a PDF attachment that you can save, print or forward to someone else. Instructions are tacked to the wall next to the copier.

  2. Fax-to-e-mail using a fax machine the fax machine in the workroom allows you to send a fax that goes straight to your e-mail as a PDF attachment. Instructions are tacked to the wall next to the fax machine.

  3. Create PDFs from your own computer There is a free program called PDFCreator that will allow you to create a PDF from virtually any program on your PC that can print. When PDFCreator is installed, you will notice a new printer called "PDFCreator". When you want to create a PDF file, simply open the document (Word, Excel, Publisher, etc.) and choose File then Print from the menu. When given a choice of printer, select "PDFCreator". You will then be able to save or e-mail a PDF file. To download the free PDFCreator program, copy or type the link below into your Internet browser:

Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.

     -- Arthur C. Clarke