By taking advantage of some free
utilities, you can easily create full-featured PDFs from Word files
without purchasing the full version of Adobe Acrobat. The
Ghostscript utility, a freeware program
available for any platform, can create PDFs from
PostScript files. PostScript is
a page-description language understood by most printers, and it is
usually the format your files are converted to behind the scenes when
you send them to your printer.
From Word, you can print your document to a file instead of to a
printer; the file that's created will likely be a
PostScript file if the printer driver you use is for a
PostScript-compatible printer. That means you can use Ghostscript to
create a PDF from the file.
To see whether your printer is a PostScript printer, print a small
document to file (select File→Print and check the
"Print to file" box), then open the
file in a text editor such as Notepad. Though Word will give the file
a .prn extension, the file will still likely be
a PostScript file. PostScript files will have a line beginning with
the text %!PS near the top of the file, as shown
Figure 1. A PostScript file viewed in a text editor
If you don't have a PostScript printer,
don't worry; printer drivers are available from many
printer manufacturers. For example, one such printer driver is
available from Hewlett-Packard at ftp://ftp.hp.com/pub/printers/software/lj485en.exe.
Since you're using the driver only to print to
files, you don't need the actual printer.
Once you've located or installed a PostScript
printer or printer driver, you can use Ghostscript, Ghostview, and
GhostWord together to create PDFs from Word files.
For more information on using PDFs, both with Word and in general,
check out PDF Hacks (O'Reilly).
Getting Ghostscript and GSview
You can download Ghostscript free from the
Wisconsin's web site (http://www.cs.wisc.edu/~ghost/). Ghostscript
itself is a complicated command-line program that can be hard for
novices to use. Fortunately, the site also has information on where
to obtain a viewer to accompany Ghostscript, such as the free
GSview viewer, available from http://www.cs.wisc.edu/~ghost/gsview/index.htm.
GSview provides a graphical interface to Ghostscript and can be used
to view PostScript, PDF, and other file types. GSview is free to use,
but you're asked to register the software for $25.
If you choose not to register, you'll have to
dismiss a reminder dialog each time you launch the program.
You won't need GSview to run this hack, but
it's a handy tool to have for viewing PostScript
GhostWord is a Ghostscript
interface that integrates with Word.
It adds a toolbar button to Word that launches the GhostWord GUI,
shown in . Use the GUI to convert the
currently active Word document to a full-featured PDF. You can also
run the GUI from outside of Word. GhostWord even has a command-line
Figure 2. The GhostWord interface
GhostWord can add bookmarks, links, metadata, and display settings to
a PDF. It also manages your Ghostscript settings. Select a hardcoded
Ghostscript profile from the "Optimize PDF
for" drop-down box or tweak Ghostscript settings
individually under the Converter Settings tab. You can save these
settings to a configuration file
for later retrieval.
GhostWord is distributed free of charge from http://www.et.dtu.dk/software/ghostword.