October 4, 2012

How to make great PDF's

There are two programs capable of creating excellent across platform PDF-files for those who do not own Adobe's costly InDesign application, both of which have distinguished properties. These programs are:
  1. CorelDRAW
  2. Apache Open Office

The first allows total freedom to place text, images and tables, the second is well suited to make small and large documents. Apache Open Office effortlessly allowed me to create a PDF-book containing text, images and tables of 775 pages. It did not need a lot of time to do the PDF conversion while it was fast in saving the document in its native file format (.odt). Both data processing options were completed in a matter of dozens of seconds, not minutes. I must perhaps add that I took the book data from a copyright free document that the author himself compiled in three years (OCR and editing), which was a major effort.

I used Firefox to copy the data in Apache Open Office (which is totally free, but you can donate to help development), because unlike Opera for instance, Firefox included all hyperlink code. Making the interactive Table of Content however required manual editing - referring to Headers - because copying the data included links that lead to other internet documents. Fortunately the author meticulously assigned different styles to headers, sub-headers and body text etc. which made compiling the ToC relatively easy for a book of such volume.

CorelDRAW is more suited to make fancy documents from scratch, giving the author almost total freedom to place elements in any desired spot. Since CorelDRAW has an abundance of text manipulation tools, there is virtually no limit to the creativity of the author. Added advantage is that CorelDRAW being a vector drawing program, that is also capable of excellently handling bitmap images in combination with Corel PhotoPaint, allows to create or edit images so that there is no need to use an other program for that.

Corel's PDF-export engine is one of the best available. It provides many export settings; web-documents or documents for print - they can all be made with Corel. Its only restriction is that it is probably not wise to create documents containing many pages (moe than 20) as Apache Open Office, but the documents made in Corel can be used to create creative sober or graphically / typologically wild documents and anything in between.