You’ve probably figured out that I like to make things available in PDF format. When I find tutorials in this format, I’m always thrilled because they’re so much easier to save for future use. When you save a PDF file and then look at the folder using Thumbnail view, you see the image of the first page of the PDF. This makes it so much easier to tell what you’re looking at. Names are good, but pictures are better, which is the reason I try to include a decent sized illustration at the top of the page.
You might think that creating a PDF requires complicated software, but it’s actually very easy (and cheap – like free!). I use something called Bullzip. It’s a free download and once it’s installed, you just treat it like a printer. There are other free PDF printers available – I just know this one works and I haven’t had any trouble with spam or popups since I installed it.
To use a PDF printer, create your tutorial in whatever program you like (Publisher, Word, Word Pad, Works Word Processor, etc.) then click File-Print. Select Bullzip from your printer drop down list and click Print. It takes a moment (the larger the files, the longer the moment) then a window pops up. Click the … button to the left of the name and navigate to the folder where you’d like it to be stored, then specify the name of the file. Click Save, and wait. A PDF of your tutorial pops up – easy as that!
If you have multiple pages in separate files (I use an ancient software called Picture It!, and I have to create each page separately), then you can use the Merge feature. After selecting the location and name, click the Merge tab at the top. Click the … button next to the Append PDF box, and choose the PDF that you’d like to add this one onto, then click Save.
There are a number of other functions, including Watermark (a word or phrase that is in the background of your page or stamped over your page) and Security (you can password protect the file).
I mentioned that the larger the file is, the longer it takes to create the PDF. Keep this in mind when adding photos. If you take a photo with a digital camera that is set on it’s largest file size, the photo will be a monster when it’s added to your tutorial. Most photos can be reduced considerably and still show the necessary detail. There are all sorts of software products that can manipulate photos and reduce the file size. You probably already have some on your computer, but you can also use free online photo editors like Picnik, flauntR, FotoFlexer or the free download from Google called Picasa.
Once you’ve created your PDF, you upload the file to your blog as you would any photo, and create the link.