Many thanks to Marshall Bloom, President of Marshall Arts, for his initial early 2009 research and report on free and low cost PDF tools.
There are several free programs that convert Word files (and many other types of documents) to PDF files:
- PDF Converter
- Bullzip PDF Printer
- FreePDF.org (a free web service)
Most of them offer basic PDF conversion without many bells and whistles; however, most free PDF converters don’t offer to automatically convert MS Word headings and styles into PDF Bookmarks – a feature I really need for my documents. For example, one of my client’s Word documents is a 500-page user guide containing hundreds of headings. Acrobat automatically converts not only headings, but also certain styles (like Contents, Title, Copyright, etc) into bookmarks arranged into a hierarchical tree to match the specified heading levels. It would take me a couple days to do that manually.
Also, some of the freebies are not playing nice with Windows Vista yet. You may have to wait for a version upgrade.
Inexpensive programs off that offer more features than the freebies include:
RoboHelp provides a PDF conversion with their RoboHelp Office package.
Also, users with an Adobe.com account get 5 free PDF creations just for logging on.