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 AGR Home > Submissions > Preparation Guide > PDF Conversion open journal systems 

One must use special software to create a PDF file. One cannot do it with Adobe Acrobat Reader, since that program can only read PDF files, not make new ones.

Adobe Acrobat (different from Reader) is a program that will create PDF files, but it costs several hundred dollars.

For most systems (PC, Mac, Linux), a good solution is the free OpenOffice word processor, version 2.0 or later. This can export to PDF files, and handles fonts well. It can import MS Word doc files and rtf files.

The following approaches can also work, but the result can suffer from a problem where the ultimate user of the PDF file cannot use the "Find" function of the Adobe Reader to find particular text in the article. This can be a significant drawback to usability. This seems to happen when "True Type" fonts, other than "Times New Roman", are used in the document. You may want to test a produced PDF to see that "Find" works for the fonts, or you might alternatively test whether a "Copy" of text will paste correctly into another text file. ("Copy" will give garbage to paste in the same situation that "Find" fails to work.)

For PCs, there is a freeware program called CutePDF Writer that seems to do a reasonable job. It is available for download at It has two parts to download: the PDFWriter itself and a "converter". Install both parts, reboot, and thereafter you have a new type of printer which will produce a PDF file when printed to.

There is also an adware/shareware program for PCs called PDF995. This is similar to CutePDF but shows you an advertisement via your browser each time you use it, unless you pay the $9.95 shareware fee. It also comes in two pieces. It is at

Another alternative is the web site PDF Online. This site provides a free service that will convert word processor files (like DOC and RTF files) into PDF files. You upload your file, and they send you the PDF version as an attachment on an email. (We know of no reports of problems, but if your document uses unusual character fonts, you may want to check the results with a bit of care since the conversion may not use the same exact font.)

If you have suggestions on how to improve the help on this page, let us know.

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Annals of Genealogical Research - ISSN 1555-9904