Sunday, 30 November 2008

Convert MS Word .DOC to PDF, free

How to convert a Microsoft Word DOC document to an Adobe Acrobat pdf file: use the free, open source OpenOffice software suite, which is available in many languages on popular computing platforms i.e. Windows (95 upwards e.g. Vista and Windows XP), Mac OS X and Linux (and even some obscurer operating systems).

You can download OpenOffice for:

Once you've downloaded and installed OpenOffice (in version 3 as I write), if you want to "print to" a PDF file (i.e. save your Word document in PDF format), then the conversion method is very straightforward:

  1. Launch OpenOffice and choose Open Document or Open Text Document; or just launch OpenOffice Writer.
  2. Open the Word document you want to change to PDF (menu File, Open).

  3. In the File menu, choose Export as PDF.
  4. That's it, it's that easy! Choose a filename and location for the PDF, and you can then open, email or upload the converted PDF (Portable Document Format) file as you wish.

Another good thing about OpenOffice is that it does the conversion pretty well. Some other free "conversion" tools can mess up the formatting a little. But obviously, it's still a good idea to open your PDF and check it before you send it out etc.

Note that the PDF export in OpenOffice only works for Microsoft Office XP or Office 2003 .DOC documents (or earlier versions of Word / Office), not the latest Microsoft Office 2007 .DOCX format.

As you can tell I think Open Office is good stuff - it's worth trying it out generally as a full free replacement for Microsoft Office; it can save documents to .DOC format as well as its native .ODT format, handle spreadsheets, presentations, etc, and I know a lot of people who use it as their main word processor or indeed full Office replacement suite. Of course you can export .ODT wordprocessing documents to PDF easily from Open Office too.

I was surprised to find out recently that quite a few people - even some very IT-literate ones - don't know about this free conversion method. So I hope this tip helps. (I've also previously blogged a suggestion on how to convert Word DOC, Excel .XLS or PDF files to HTML for free.)


Gossimer said...

This is awesome tool to convert doc files to pdf, I just downloaded it! it works really good! thank you very much for sharing.

Anonymous said...

There is online alternative

Improbulus said...

@Gossimer, glad it helped!

@Anon & everyone else, I haven't tried that online alternative you suggest and I'm always nervous/suspicious about having to give them my email address in order to try the service. I'd suggest using a free disposable email address e.g. from Spamgourmet if you want to try things like that, instead of giving them your real email.