Creating Usable PDF files



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TeX/LaTeX and Scientific Word




MS Word





Tex/LaTeX and Scientific Word

To create pdf files from TeX based programs there are two basic routes.


Scientific Word Users: MacKichan Software knowledge base document 270 discusses how to create pdfs, and document 453 provides a step-by-step guide for the methods below.

Creating a postscript file, and then creating a pdf file

1.  Creating a postscript file.


Remark: When creating the postscript file it is important to use the appropriate fonts so that the document is readable onscreen and when printed.  You can use truetype versions of TeX fonts and/or Type 1 Postscript (BUT NOT Type 3 Postscript) versions of TeX fonts. The fonts used by Scientific Word are by default Type 1 fonts.

You can create a .ps file in one of two methods:

Print to a postscript printer driver such as the printer driver that ships with Acrobat Distiller (which is by default called Acrobat Distiller, but is distinct from the actual Distiller program). Further details for Scientific Word users are provided by the supplier here.

Use standard TeX methods, namely the dvips command (e.g., dvips -o myfile.dvi).  For further details on this method click here.                                                                                                            

2.  Creating a pdf file.

A conversion program such as Acrobat Distiller creates a pdf file from a ps file. In creating the pdf file you must make sure to embed the fonts. In Distiller select the settings menu and the font dialogue box and check embed all fonts.  Distiller ships with a program called Acrobat Assistant which, if running, will automatically start Distiller to convert any postscripts documents created with the Distiller printer driver.

There are also similar, less expensive but untested products: databecker's pdf producer, and ehelp's robopdf. There is also a free product, ghostview, and a free online converter, ps2pdf, based on ghostview.  If you use an untested product, it is essential to make sure that it works on a computer that does not have any software that will have installed mathematical or TeX fonts.

Directly create pdf files.

pdflatex: You can convert a latex file directly to pdf by using pdflatex from the command line. This is a standard part of some TeX distributions such as MikTeX and a version is also obtainable here.  A brief description of how to use MikTeX with pdflatex is here


Remark: There are other options and advantages to pdflatex such as using the hyperref package (e.g., usepackage[pdftex]{hyperref}) to create links and bookmarks in the pdf file. Some documentation on hyperref can be found here and here. The options [pdfview={Fit}, pdfstartview={Fit}] scales the text to the size of window. Similarly, \usepackage[pdftex]{graphicx}will set up the graphicx package to work with pdflatex, so that, for example \includegraphics{figure1} will insert figure1.pdf into the tex.

Acrobat PDFWriter also directly prints pdf files, but does not seem to work effectively with TeX based output and should be avoided.

Scientific Workplace 5.0 can convert its .tex files to .pdf using pdflatex, as the supplier states here.

Acrobat Distiller 5.0 enables directly creating .pdf files from Scientific Word with correctly embedded fonts.  See instructions here.

A User Recommendation

I use MikTeX in conjunction with WinEdt. MikTeX is free and very easy in install - you basically download a self extracting installation program (the setup wizard) that then follow the instructions; you do need to be connected to the web. If it asks about other TeX installations, say no. Do use the localtexmf and texmf folder suggestions. WinEdt is a shareware editor (incredibly cheap) for MS Windows with a strong predisposition towards the creation of [La]TeX documents. In particular, if you first install MikTeX using defaults, WinEdt knows where everything is, and so you can access LaTeX, pdfLaTeX and so forth using the icons in WinEdt (very easy). If you have any need for postscript, I would also install ghostscript and ghostview before installing WinEdt (the program is designed to recognize MiKTeX, Ghostview and Acrobat).

Once you have installed all this if you want to use it with Scientific Word then you need to tell MikTeX that you will be using scientific word macros. You do this by starting MikTeX Options (one of the programs that is automatically installed as part of the MikTeX installation. Click on the Roots tab, and add something like C:\swp35\TCITeX (the top folder depends on your version of scientific word or workplace, but it is important that the full path including TCITeX is there). Then click on Apply, and OK. And then on Refresh Now (the last step is probably redundant, but does no harm). Now any tex file you have created in scientific word can be opened by WinEdt, and compiled, previewed and pdflatexed without further adjustment. The two key icons are TeXify (it looks like a dog's head - I don't know why) and pdf TeXify. They automatically do the right number of LaTeX passes to create dvi and pdf files respectively.To create links in the document, all you do is add the package hyperref in the preamble (\usepackage{hyperref}).

Mac: LaTex, MS Word

OSX natively produces pdf files. Since MS Word uses truetype fonts, and TeX programs for the Mac use Type 1 Postscript fonts, and appears to embed them properly, pdf produced by the Mac should be readable on any computer.

Linux/Unix: LaTeX

Historically Unix has had problems producing decent looking pdf. The primary source of the problem has been the embedding of Postscript Type 3 fonts, which are unreadable, rather than Postscripts Type 1 fonts. These instruction should work on most linux/unix systems. To get good looking Type 1 fonts be sure in your preamble to include the command \usepackage{pslatex}. This will also work around problems with ligatures and spacing that occur under some systems. You may also wish to use the hyperref package to better control the appearance of the pdf file. Some documentation can be found here. There are two methods for converting tex to pdf. To convert myfile.tex to myfile.pdf


pdflatex: >pdflatex myfile.tex
With pdflatex you will probably want to use \usepackage[pdftex]{hyperref} and  \usepackage[pdftex]{graphicx}


ps2pdf: >latex myfile.tex; dvips -o myfile.dvi; ps2pdf -dCompatibilityLevel=1.3
With ps2pdf you will probably want to use \usepackage[ps2pdf, bookmarks, pdfview={FitH}, pdfstartview={FitH}]{hyperref} which converts section headers into bookmarks, and scales the text to the size of window.

More recent distributions include Ghostscript 7.05 which embeds Type 1 rather than Type 3 fonts. Unfortunately TeTeX appears to produce Type 3 fonts for text, although it uses Type 1 fonts for math. If you do not wish to \usepackage{pslatex} you can \usepackage{times}, which fixes the problem with the text. You can check your version by ps --version. If it says 7.05 Type 1 fonts will be embedded. If it says 6.51 make sure you use pslatex.

Windows: MS Word

You can either install a pdf printer or use on online conversion service.

PDF Printer

Acrobat Distiller (about $250) is known to work effectively. Be sure to set the acrobat options to embed all fonts. Acrobat PDFWriter is known not to work effectively and should be avoided. With newer versions of Adobe Acrobat (Professional and Standard) the installation procedure installs a button on the MS Word toolbar that enables the creation of a PDF document simply by clicking on the button. There are two less expensive but untested products: databecker's pdf producer, and ehelp's robopdf. If you use an untested product, it is essential to make sure that it works on a computer that does not have any software that will have installed mathematical fonts (such as those installed by MathType).

Online Conversion

Neevia Technologies provides a free conversion service for converting word documents into PDF files. You may email them a word file attachment at or use their web conversion service at Note that if you send them a file attachment, it is probably a good idea to give the file a short name without spaces in it. If you have problems with the email, try their website. Adobe has a subscription service service that accomplishes the same purpose

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