Making a Reliable PDF (Portable Document
Format) Document from your Dissertation
You have spent a considerable amount of time trying to make your dissertation
look its best, and you would like the on-line, PDF, version of it to look just as
good. The University is concerned that the document submitted to OhioLINK for
worldwide dissemination is a faithful and accurate reproduction of the original
that you created.
Creating a PDF file that both displays and prints correctly requires you to make
some conscious choices during the conversion process. A few simple steps will
make sure that your dissertation not only looks perfect, but also is stored in the
most compact and efficient form for others to retrieve. Follow the guidelines
below and you should have no problems producing your PDF file.
1) Use Acrobat Distiller, not PDFWriter.
Some programs allow you to export a document directly to PDF without using
Distiller; this is not recommended. While PDFWriter is adequate for converting
short letters and memos, it is not designed for creating PDF files from lengthy,
complex documents containing images, graphics, and tables, and is unlikely to
produce a faithful copy. Use Distiller and the approach outlined here to produce
a clean, compact, PDF file that is both readable and easily disseminated.
2) Convert your Word Processor file to PostScript.
PostScript is the computer language used to describe high-resolution text and
images for printing. Regardless of which program you used to produce your
dissertation (Word, WordPerfect, LaTex, etc.), you must produce a Postscript
version of it for conversion to PDF.
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Open the Chooser from the Apple menu and select a Postscript printer. As the
Mac OS includes the LaserWriter 8 driver , this is an excellent default choice
regardless of which type of printer you use.
Open your dissertation document in your word processor and choose Print
(Command-P) from the File menu. In the Print dialog box, select File from the
Destination pop-up menu . This will save your document as a Postscript file
instead of sending it to a printer.
Next select Save As File from the main pop-up menu. Check to make sure that
the Format menu is set to Postscript job, and choose Binary as the Data Format
option. Select All from the Font Inclusion pop-up menu , so that all the fonts
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you use in the dissertation are written directly into the Postscript file, so that they
can be embedded in the PDF document.
When you have selected all of these settings, click on Save , name the file, and
click on OK. Now you are ready to convert this postscript file into PDF format.
3) Selecting the Correct Options in Distiller
Once you have a Postscript version of your dissertation, you are ready to launch
Acrobat Distiller and convert the file into PDF. The most critical step in
producing a good PDF file is choosing the correct Job Option settings in Distiller.
From the Job Options pop-up menu select Print (PrintOptimize in Distiller 4).
This will optimize your document for output to printing devices such as desktop
printers, where color separations are not required.
Now choose Job Options from the Settings menu, and select the General tab in
this window. Choose Acrobat 3.0 from the Compatibility pop-up menu , so
that anyone using version 3.0 and later will be able to open your dissertation.
Also make sure that both Optimize For Fast Web View (Optimize for PDF in
Distiller 4) and Generate Thumbnails are checked. Thumbnails are a very
valuable navigation tool for the reader of your PDF document.
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4) Compress the PDF file
The Job Options window allows you to apply additional compression to various
types of images, and significantly reduce the size of your PDF document. Bicubic
Downsampling is the default option, and is quite adequate for our purposes.
However, some caution is necessary, as too much compression will degrade the
Select the Compression tab in the Job Options window. Now you need to make
choices. If your document contains color images, and you would like them to
appear attractive when printed, keep the Color Bitmap and Greyscale Bitmap
Images set to Bicubic Downsampling at 300 dpi. Monochrome Bitmap
images look best at higher resolution, such as 600 or 1,200 dpi.
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Leave the Compress Text and Line Art option selected, since it has no effect on
5) Embed your Fonts
One of the most important steps in the entire PDF process is embedding your
fonts into the PDF document. Many readers of your dissertation will not have on
their computers all the fonts that you have used in your document. You must,
therefore, embed them in the PDF file, or Acrobat will make font substitutions
that can destroy the appearance of your dissertation, especially tables and
In the Job Options window, click on the Fonts tab, and select the Embed All
Fonts and Subset Embedded Fonts , with the percentage set to 100%. This
means that Acrobat will display the PDF using only the fonts that you have
embedded in the file, even if a reader’s computer has fonts of the same name, but
slightly different metrics.
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Enabling the Subset option also reduces the size of your PDF file, as it allows
Distiller to embed only the specific font characters used in the document, rather
than the entire character set for each font.
Once you have finished choosing your Job Options, click on OK. You are now
ready to turn your Postscript file onto a PDF document. Either use Distiller’s
Open command to select your Postscript file, or simply drag the file into the
main Distiller window. Distiller will then create the PDF file.
6) Add the Navigation Tools
Once you have the PDF file you need to make it a truly interactive document by
adding controls that help the reader to navigate through it, and find the
information they need quickly and accurately. You have already created a set of
thumbnails; small images of each page that allow your reader to select quickly
items of interest. A second navigational aide for the reader can be provided by
Bookmarks are links with representative text in the navigation pane of your
Acrobat reader screen. They can be used in a variety of ways to direct your
reader’s attention where you want it. They can also be used to perform certain
actions. Distiller will automatically generate bookmarks from the table of
contents created in most desktop publishing programs, and these are usually
adequate for navigating through a document. To create a bookmark pointing to
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a particular section you need to open the PDF document in Acrobat Reader. Next
open the Navigation Pane by clicking on the Command Toolbar .
Once the Navigation Pane is open, select the Bookmark tab. Navigate to the
page (or part of page) that you wish to bookmark, and use the Magnifier tool to
zoom in on the exact portion of the page you want to display. Choose New
Bookmark from the bookmark pop-up window (Command-B) , and type a
name in the bookmark’s name field.
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You can repeat this technique to bookmark other sections and pages, pictures,
tables, figures, or any other item of interest in the document. Each bookmark
creates a new link in the PDF’s Navigation Pane.
You can create a hierarchy of bookmarks by simply clicking on a bookmark icon
you wish to nest, and dragging it underneath the first letter of the parent
bookmark; a black bar shows the position of the icon . Then click OK –
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although the bookmark can be moved where you want it, the actual pages
remain in their original location in the document.
You may nest bookmarks several layers deep, using the same technique. Again,
your bookmarks do not have to follow the order of the text. Clicking on the
triangular windows will open and close the sub-bookmarks.
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In addition to the bookmarks, you may also want to initiate certain special
actions from particular places in your document. Examples might include:
jumping directly from a reference in your text to the complete reference in the
References section (and back), moving from the reference to a figure to the figure
itself and back, and so on. These will not appear in the Bookmarks list, but will
simply be “live” areas in your document on which the reader can click to initiate
The first step is to select the area defining the link. Here we will select the first
reference, . Click on the Link tool, or type L, and the cursor changes to a cross.
Use this cursor to draw a rectangle around the region you want to make the link.
As you do so, a dialogue box opens. From the Type pop-up menu in the
Appearance window select Invisible Rectangle, and None from the Highlight
menu. Now move to the other end of the link. Here it is the page with the
References; we find reference 1. Press the Set Link button to save the link. If you
repeat this procedure, but start at reference 1, and link back to the  on page 1,
the reader will be able to jump to your reference and back simply by clicking on
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either place. You can easily see where a region of the page is actually a link, as
the hand cursor changes to point with the index finger.
Links also very useful for moving back and forth from the text to figures and
tables. In either of these cases, the entire figure or table can be made “live”
simply by enclosing it completely in the Link box. But that is not all. By selecting
“Movie” from the Action Type: pop-up menu, you can embed a movie clip in
your document. There are many other actions that the Link command can be
used to initiate, and it is these that can make reading the PDF version of your
dissertation into an exciting, interactive, experience for your reader.
If at any stage of this process you need assistance, use the Acrobat Guide
available under the Help menu. It contains detailed instructions on the operation
of all the text and figure formatting and linking operations in Acrobat, and goes
well beyond the scope of this short handbook.
If you find any ways to help us clarify our instructions, please contact Associate
Dean William Clark(.31) at the Graduate School on 2-6031.
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