How to Create a PDF from Scratch Quickly & Easily

Whether sharing documents with companies, clients, or co-workers, the standard operating procedure has become the Portable Document Format (PDF).  

A PDF is independently functioning, not relying on any particular browser, hardware, or operating system for viewing. As long as the viewer has any PDF reader installed on their computer, the file will open with a fixed layout format – keeping the integrity of the original document. 

In this article, you'll learn how to create a PDF from other other file formats quickly and easily. You'll also learn about ActivePDF's DocConverter, the advanced C# .NET PDF conversion SDK for developers. 

From producing brochures and catalogs to encrypted and e-signed documents, knowing how to create a PDF from scratch will benefit you regardless of the industry you're in or the material you need to create. 

The Importance of PDF

It's safe to say that, at one time or another, anyone with a computer has worked with a PDF file. Whether working in an office environment, opening a bank statement, filling out an application, or sending and receiving invoices – it's almost a given you've touched a PDF. The beauty of the PDF comes from it's reliability, security, and versatility across different platforms.

A PDF file can be viewed in identical fashion regardless if on a tablet, Android, Mac, or any other digital device. This is why loan lenders and banks utilize PDF for entire transactions, relying on the encryption of many files to meet stringent regulations and surpass security standards. In any career field, PDF has become a valuable, reliable, accessible file format for sharing and creating digital documents.

If you haven't worked with PDF as much as you would like and feel a little behind the curve when it comes to PDF technology, this guide is for you! While ActivePDF is a leader in high-volume PDF automation and .NET developer tools, we also pride ourselves on information influencers in the PDF space.

Learning how to create a PDF will advance your workflow and productivity, exponentially increasing a feeling of security in every document. Following a moderate overview of why PDFs are useful and versatile for many applications, multiple methods and variations are examined for creating a PDF file from scratch. By the end of this article, you will be equipped with the tools you need to create your PDF files effortlessly. Let's get started!

Why Create a PDF From Scratch?

If you are unaware of the abilities of a PDF file or as to why a PDF file may be the best selection for your needs, here we will address an assortment of benefits. Each attribute plays a role in making this file format a long term, standardized, and compatible document choice.

  • Universal

    PDF documents can be easily reached from all devices with a standard PDF reader (as opposed to documents created in programs such as Microsoft Word or Apple Pages, which requires the reader to have the same software it was created in). With mobile access, PDF readers can access files anytime and anywhere. 

  • Security

    By equipping your file with a password protection option, all parties know their information is secure. Recipients can see who all has access to the document. With the proper PDF software you can lock a file down and only permit access to particular people. You can also censor parts of the material and only allow certain users to view it. These precautionary measures protect the document from damage due to virus infections. Moreover, these measures protect it from being sent to or seen by an unintended audience.

  • Searchable

    A linkable table of contents can help organize a PDF file. A quick search tool can be used to quickly scan a PDF document to quickly locate whatever you are searching for.

  • Interactive

    Using PDF software, you can insert images, hyperlinks, and multimedia files into your document, such as videos, and audio. PDF preserves visual aspects created in the original material before conversion. Another useful tool is the option to create a fillable form that can be filled and sent electronically fairly quickly. Without PDF, forms would have to be filled out by hand, then scanned, and sent back via email or postal mail.

  • Compression

    A PDF can translate a multi-page document into a single file. The file size is decreased allowing for a quicker loading and sending time without sacrificing quality. If the desire is for smaller file size, there are PDF compressors available.

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How to Create a PDF from Scratch

Another benefit to working with PDF files is that they are highly customizable. There are different methods of creating a PDF for different needs and an array of techniques to approach generating a PDF. Below are a few examples of how to create a PDF, along with the necessary steps to convert your file.

High-Volume PDF Converter

PDF document conversion software, such as DocConverter by ActivePDF is a high-volume SDK that provides IT teams and developers the ability to programmatically create a PDF from Microsoft Office programs, such as Word, Excel, and PowerPoint. Below is an example of creating a Word file to PDF.

  1. Before you begin, verify that the DocConverter settings for the PDF profile are configured within the desired parameters for your project by accessing the ActivePDF Configuration ManagerThe ActivePDF Configuration Manager provides one location to access all your UI-configurable ActivePDF products. 

    ActivePDF Configuration Manager to convert Word To PDF
    (For more detailed instructions on how to install DocConverter, check out the Learning Center article titled How to Convert PDF to PowerPoint.
  2. Below is a code example direct from the ActivePDF Examples page, explaining how to convert Word to PDF:

    Word to PDF, PDF Conversion SDK

For more example codes on converting Word, Excel, PowerPoint, and other documents to PDF, visit DocConverter's GitHub page.


Print-to-PDF Function

Depending on your operating system this method can vary slightly. However, ultimately this function allows you save any existing document as a PDF file directly from your print window.

For Windows:

  1.  Open the document or web page you wish to convert to PDF
  2.  Click on File > Print > Microsoft Print to PDF
  3.  Name the file and Save to the desired location

For Microsoft Office:

  1.  Open Microsoft Word/Excel/Powerpoint file you wish to convert to PDF
  2.  Click on File > Save As > File Format > PDF
  3.  Enter the name you'd like to save the document as in  ‘Export as' field
  4.  Select location to save and select Save

For Mac OS:

  1.  Open the document or web page you wish to convert to PDF
  2.  Click on File > Print > PDF > Save as PDF. Tip: If PDF  option is not available, click on Print using system dialog.
  3.  Name the file, select location to save, and select Save

Convert Clipboard Content to PDF

This method is used to create a PDF from any text or image that you capture from applications on either Windows or Mac OS.

  1. Windows Users: Utilize PrintScreen. Mac OS Users: Use the Grab utility. Applications > Utilities > Grab and then choose Edit > Copy  to add to clipboard
  2. In PDF Software, select File > Create > PDF from Clipboard

Tip:  If there is no content copied to Clipboard and it is empty, the command option will be disabled.


Create a Blank PDF with Adobe Acrobat

This process is common for making a simple one-page PDF on your desktop that does not require complex formatting or layouts.  

  1. In Adobe Acrobat, close any open documents
  2. Select Tools > Create PDF > Blank Page > Create

Tip: If you need to add a blank page to an existing PDF follow Tools > Organize Pages > Insert > Blank Page


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In Conclusion

We hope this quick guide to creating PDFs from a variety of origins, sets you up to succeed with your file sharing abilities and increases your knowledge of PDF technology.

Depending on your needs or the needs of your company, you can decide on any of the above approaches to achieve the same goal of creating a PDF file. Whether you are converting high-volumes of PDF files through a developer C# .NET SDK, following the steps to use the ‘Print to PDF' function on your print window, copying the content to your clipboard, or creating a simple blank PDF directly through your PDF software, the end result will be a more concise, manageable and secure document file.

By making PDF a part of your business operations, precision and quality will exponentially grow while allowing you to share files with confidence and security!

If you still need help with PDF conversion, reach out to our technology advisers today! 



What People are Saying

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Web Develop II Team Lead, Ascent Global Logistics

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Mitch Draper

Director of IT, SC Home Builders Self Insurers Fund

"We have been successful in implementing batch and UI programs where we need to manage, modify and create PDF files."


IT Manager, Los Angeles Superior Court

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