Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Create Your Own Basic PDF Files

I've been having computer problems the past 2 days and haven't been able to finish my new project. So, I'm posting this tutorial for today in hopes that it will help some that are looking to create their own PDF files. I know it isn't a crafting tutorial but it is craft-related. Please note I have no affiliation with the makers/developers of the programs mentioned in any way. They are just free programs I found, have tried, and enjoy using for their simplicity.   

Create Your Own Basic PDF Files - Tutorial
by Libby Bryant copyright *2009

This tutorial may seem lengthy but read through it completely before starting to familiarize yourself with the steps. I've included steps for creating an entire PDF file including working with your patterns or graphics. It is pretty quick and easy to create a PDF file so don't let the length of this tutorial worry you.

What you'll need:

Download and install the FREE "PrimoPDF" program. PrimoPDF is compatible with Adobe Reader and Adobe PDF. If you have Adobe software on your system and make a Primo PDF file, when saved it will automatically open in your default Adobe program.

If you do not have a graphics program that you work with to re-size photos and graphics then download the FREE "Photo-Re-sizer" program. This is easy to use and you can also watermark your photos/graphics with this program.

Create a new folder on your desktop and name it after your tutorial or PDF file you're making. Keep the name short as this folder is only for holding the files you will be making. (To create a new folder: Right mouse click on a clear area with no icons on your desktop, go down to "New" over to "Folder" and click. Name the folder then hit "Enter" on your keyboard.)

Notepad - This editor comes standard on Windows systems.

Word Pad - This editor is also standard on Windows systems.

Now that you have those steps completed you're ready to start working on your tutorial PDF file. We'll start by getting the pattern or graphics ready. I have steps for working in a graphics program and steps for using a hand drawn pattern or graphic. Follow the one you need for your tutorial. I do both types and you probably do also.

IF you are working with a hand drawn pattern or graphic (doodle) trace the original so you can save it. Work with the traced copy going over the lines with a black marker. (Scanners don't pick up pencil lines very well.) Scan your pattern or graphic to your computer and save it. If your system closed the scanned file after saving it, open it up again. Now save the scanned file as a ".jpg" (or .jpeg) file in your tutorial folder. If you do not have or use a graphics program to work with resizing your pics and graphics, open the Photo-Re-sizer program and open your .jpg file in it. For a full page pattern re-size the pattern .jpg file to 612 x 792 pixels (8-1/2 x 11 paper size). Only re-size your patterns to this size as you want them in full standard page size. For your cover page picture and other step-by-step pictures you'll need to re-size them no larger than 400 x 400 pixels (or 5.50 inches). You'll want a picture of your finished item for your cover page even if you do not use any other step-by-step pics in your tutorial. People want to see what the finished item will look like. Now save your re-sized pattern and other pics in your tut folder.

IF you work in a graphics program with for patterns and graphics open the original file in your program and duplicate it, close the original file. Working with your duplicate, re-size a pattern to 612 x 792 pixels, or a pic no larger than 400 x 400 pixels. Save the re-sized pattern or pics as .jpg files in your tut folder. If your graphics program does not do the resizing then you can use the Photo-Re-sizer program for this. Follow the steps above to re-size the pattern and graphics.

The hardest part is over and now you can work on your tutorial instructions! Open Notepad and type in all the step-by-step instructions for your tutorial. If you're showing step-by-step pics with your instructions, make pic comment lines where you'll need to insert your pics. Once finished go back over your instructions to make sure you haven't left anything out or forgotten a step. When all is as you want it, save the file in your tutorial folder.
Creating your cover page:
If you open some PDF tutorials you already have you'll notice there are two styles of cover pages. One being a page in Landscape with the material list with copyright and other information on the left (or bottom) side and a finished item pic on the right (or top) side of the page. The other being a standard Portrait style page listing the tutorial name and author, then showing the finished item pic, and sometimes the material list with copyright information. Please note sometimes the material list and copyright info is too long for the standard cover page and is put on the second page before the instructions start. We'll discuss creating both types of cover pages then you can choose which one you will need.

Landscape style - This type page can easily be created in your graphics program. Open your program and create a new image in 792 x 612 pixel size. (This is a standard landscape page size.) In the left half side of that page add your tutorial name, author, material list, copyright and any other information you want added. On the right half side of that page, copy & paste your finished item picture (from your tutorial folder). Now you'll need to rotate your whole page to the left 90 degrees to make it a Portrait page. Your finished item pic should now be at the top part of the page when in this position. If not, you have rotated it wrong, so undo and correct it. Save this file as a .jpg file in your tutorial folder. Open Word Pad and insert the .jpg cover page file on your first page. Now you're ready to start adding your instructions.

Portrait style - This page is created in your Word Pad program. To make this standard style page open Word Pad and type in your tutorial name, author and copyright info, copy & paste or drag n drop your finished item pic (from your tutorial folder) in the page. If your material list is long you will probably need to start it on the next page. View what you have using the Print Preview in Word Pad. If you have room on your cover page for the material list then go ahead and add it. Otherwise put this information on the second page by itself. Now you're ready to start adding your instructions.

Adding your instructions - IF you used the Landscape style cover page you can start adding your instructions on the second page in your Word Pad. IF you used the Portrait style page in Word Pad then you'll need to start your instructions on the next page after your material list. In either style remember to preview the Print Preview page as you work to see how the pages look as you create them. Add your instructions by opening the Notepad file you saved in your tutorial folder and coping all of it. Paste it in the Word Pad program. IF you're using step-by-step pics in your instructions go back over the instructions where you inserted pic comments, backspace that comment out and add your pic there. Repeat this for every pic comment you have. When finished adding your instructions and/or pics, go back over your whole tutorial proof reading and making sure all pics are in place as you want them. Save this Word Pad in your tutorial folder, naming it after your tutorial.

Last step - making your PDF file! Turn the power to your printer on if it is off, then open your Word Pad tutorial file. Click on the word "File" up top left, go down to "Print" and click. Your print window pops up and in the "Select Printer" section click on "PrimoPDF" to select it then click the "Print" button at bottom of window. Give Primo a few seconds to load and a Primo window will pop up. You can make any changes to options you desire, I always leave mine on "Custom" for regular PDF files. Then select your tutorial folder for the "Save As:" location, I leave the "Post Process" to the "Open PDF," then click the "Create PDF" button on bottom and you're done!

PrimoPDF collects the information from your Word Pad file and creates a PDF file with it. You can now view your new PDF file in your tutorial folder! Since PrimoPDF is compatible with Adobe software it will show as an Adobe PDF file in your folder, if the Adobe software is on your system. (Adobe is the default PDF reader.) Of course you can always explore the features of PrimoPDF later and adjust your tutorials for more personalization.

Note: These same basic steps can be used to create PDF files for sharing graphics like tags and such. Be creative and start making/sharing/selling those tutorials!   


  1. Wow!!! What a wonderful tut, Libby! Thank you very much!!

  2. Thanks so much for this tutorial. I was jus' askin' hubby last week if he'd help me figure how to make my own PDF files.
    You must have been readin' my mind!!...LOL
    Have a wonderful day!!!

  3. Thanks Nancy & Darla! Thanks for your comments too, it helps me know what is needed here.