Portable Document Format (PDF) files are great because they act as electronic versions of printed pages but with several benefits over traditional paper copies:

  • They are an environmentally-friendly option:
    • No paper required
    • No need to power on a printer or heat up a fuser
    • No need for toner
    • No reprinting pages that have mistakes
  • As the name implies, they tend to be small enough to be easily transferred via e-mail or on a USB thumbdrive
  • They are viewable on almost any electronic device (computers, smartphones and tablets)

So, how do you create a PDF? Since PDFs are designed to take the place of printed pages, creating them is similar to printing your document on paper.

Creating a PDF on a Macintosh:

The ability to create PDF’s is built into the Macintosh Operating System so the process is the same for all applications:

  • Open the document you would like to convert into a PDF
  • Start the printing process, this can be done by going to File > Print or by typing Command+P in most applications
  • In the bottom left corner of the print dialog is a PDF button, click the button and choose Save as PDF…
  • Give the file a name and choose the location you would like to save it. You can also change the document’s title and author if you like
  • Click Save.
Creating a PDF on a Windows computer:

The program PDFCreator is installed on College-owned Windows computers. Here are the steps for using PDFCreator to create a PDF:

Note: If at any point during this process you get an error, you can either download the PDFCreator installer here and reinstall it, or you can contact the ITS Support Center at ext. 4222 or by e-mail at support@colby.edu for assistance.

Warning: It is not recommended that you use the File > Save As > .PDF or File > Save & Send > Create PDF/XPS Document method in Microsoft Office as this can often produce non-standard and unusable PDF’s.

  • Open the document you would like to convert into a PDF
  • Start the printing process, in this case we’ll use Microsoft Word as the example. Go to File > Print or type Control+P
  • Click on the drop-down to choose a printer and select PDFCreator




  • Ensure all of your other settings are as you like (page size, orientation, margins, etc.)
  • Click the Print button
  • After a few seconds you will be presented with a PDFCreator dialog box



  • Here you can give your PDF a Document Title and change the Author name if you like
    • If you leave the check box at the bottom checked the PDF will open in your default PDF viewer once it is created, uncheck this box if you do not want that to happen
  • When you are ready to create your PDF click the Save button
  • You will be prompted to give the PDF a name and choose a location to save it, once you have done so, click Save again
    • Depending on the size of your document you may see the following graphic on your screen while the PDF is being created.


That’s it! You now have a PDF version of the document that you can use and distribute as you see fit.