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Adobe's Portable Document Format (PDF) is a convenient way to distribute files that can be viewed and printed on Windows, Mac, Linux and other computers. Adobe produces a free program, Acrobat Reader for Windows, to view PDF files; similar programs exist for other operating systems. To create a PDF file you could buy Adobe's full Acrobat creation suite, which is quite costly. Or you could do it free using freely available software.
Ghostscript is a command line postscript document manipulator. GSView is a graphical interface for Ghostscript that enables viewing, printing and, more importantly for us, conversion to other formats such as PDF.
Ghostscript and GSView are distributed under the Aladdin Free Public Licence, copies of which are included in each of the distributions. In essence the AFPL allows these programs to be distributed and used by anyone, free of charge subject to certain limitations. The licence does not affect the PDF files we create, and allows for personal and commercial use.
Now you're all set to create PDF files.
"c:\a.ps"because it is quick to type without having to click through different folders. Depending on the application doing the printing it might be necessary to include the quotes, otherwise it might add ".prn" on the end of the file name.
Sometimes you might have two or more separate documents that cannot easily be merged and printed to a single .ps file, for example a title page created in Publisher and the remaining content authored in Word. You can print each document to a separate .ps file, join all the files together and then convert the joined file to a single PDF file.
"c:\1.ps", the second
"c:\2.ps"and so on.
"copy /b 1.ps+2.ps a.ps", with all the individual .ps files separated with + symbols.
PDF is a compressed format which includes compression of graphic elements. However you can help to reduce the size of the file by choosing a lower print resolution in the postscript printer driver when printing to the .ps file. It might also help to reduce the resolution in GSView when starting the conversion process.
If you use non-standard fonts in the original source, GSView might embed a copy of the font in the PDF file, increasing its size. Acrobat Reader allows to you see information about fonts in a PDF file you have already created by clicking File, Document Info, Fonts. Watch out for fonts that are not "Type 1". They may be embedded, and they tend to be slower to render too.
MS Word allows you to use a font named "Helvetica" even though it doesn't appear in the drop-down font list (just type the name in the font box and press Enter). This is a generic non-serif font which typically is rendered using a suitable substitution on the viewing computer. Use "Times" for a generic serif font.
Print Preview is a useful paper-saving feature in some programs that enables you to see what the printed output will look like before committing it to paper. Not all programs offer a Print Preview. For those that don't, select the postscript printer to first create a .ps file, which you can open and view in GSView. You don't even need to convert to PDF. When you're happy with the output, switch back to your regular printer to make the final print. Remember that printer settings are generally not retained when you change printers, so if you made any special settings on the postscript printer you will need to redo them after changing printers. Also bear in mind that because of font differences between printers, especially those that have built-in fonts, may mean that the printed output is not identical to the postscript preview.
Some printer drivers offer the ability to print 2, 4, or more pages on a single sheet of paper by reducing the size of each page. If yours doesn't, you can achieve the same paper-saving result using the postscript printer driver in the above examples. Simply print your document out to a .ps file using the above procedures and with the "multiple pages per sheet" option enabled, open the resulting .ps file in GSView, then reprint the .ps file in GSView to your regular printer.
©2003 Dale Nurden
Duplication is permitted in full or part provided the author is acknowledged