Making .pdf files (fwd)

Fri Jun 5 20:03:52 UTC 2009

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Wed, 03 Jun 2009 23:39:44 +1000
From: Andrew Margetts <apmargetts at>
To: Stephen Morey <S.Morey at>, rnld <r-n-l-d at>
Subject: Re: Making .pdf files

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Dear Stephen,

We encountered a somewhat similar set of problems when preparing a 'Word' 
document that had both internal and external links (the external ones were to 
numerous small MPEG files - though they could have been to any kind of file in 
principal). One major problem (different from the ones you mention) was that 
the version of Acrobat we had couldn't make a useful set of PDF 'bookmarks' 
from a 'Word' table-of-contents (it could make one, but it didn't include the 
numbering, which made it almost useless). It is possible that upgrading Acrobat 
(at some cost) would have solved that problem (or perhaps not), but in the 
meantime I came across a free utility that could do this. It also could manage 
to make links to external documents. This utility works as a macro that you 
install into 'Word' and is called PDF-T-Maker. The link is:

It is a little idiosyncratic, and therefore complicated to set up. For one 
thing you have to deal with the separate concepts of having both a PostScript 
printer and a PDF Distiller. What the macro seems to do is manage the 
conversion from 'Word' to PostScript and then the further 'distillation' to PDF 
(or is it the other way around?), but it needs separate (external) applications 
to manage some of these tasks. Specifically it needs both a viable PostScript 
printer driver and a PDF distilller. The good news is that free applications 
are available for both tasks: for instance I use Cute PDF (the free version) 
for the printer (, and GhostScript for the distiller 
( (Note that the free CutePDF can create a 
good, if simple, PDF document all by itself; unfortunately it does not handle 
the links).

It is not that hard to set up these programs to run together following the 
specific installation guides and the information on the PDF-T-Maker site. Once 
this is established, making a PDF from 'Word' is simply a matter of clicking a 
toolbar button. (Of course there are also numerous options available for fine 
tuning the process).

On the whole I can recommend this set-up (especially for the price). The only 
problem we had is that in some cases we found that the click 'target' for a 
link was not exactly over the desired spot. This is a somewhat mysterious 
matter: our document was very long and at the beginning everything was fine and 
then at some point the click targets started to 'drift' and then later on they 
were accurate again. To date I have not been able to ascertain whether this was 
caused by some idiosyncrasy in our 'Word' document (as any 'Word' user will be 
aware, it is frustratingly difficult to work out what is going on in the 
document regarding styles and so on) or whether this is a more fundamental 
problem with the macro design. We have not yet been able to take the matter up 
with the developers to see if there is a solution to the problem (assuming they 
are inclined to try to solve it). Meanwhile there are two ameliorating factors 
to note:

1) This problem certainly does not always occur.
2) It is easy to configure the macro to draw a visible box around the actual 
click area which both alerts the creator to any possible problems, and allows 
the user (provided they have been warned) to identify the relevant click area. 
Not a clean fix but a work-around.

Unfortunately, I doubt whether this will answer all your difficulties. 
Regarding "Word creates a system of relative references to files", I wonder 
whether you are using straightforward hyperlinks for external files. If not 
then I recommend you do so using 'Word's' built in hyperlink function (select 
item/word to link from -> right click -> Hyperlink...). This should make links 
to external files, of any sort,  quite feasible.

However I can't see how you will be able to target bookmarks within other PDF 
documents (unless perhaps more recent versions of Acrobat support such 
linking). As Peter implies, hyperlinks from/to HTML versions can handle such 
cross-document links (though not generally without manual editing), but of 
course a typical web-page exported from a 'Word' file looks rather different to 
the source document (unlike the PDF version) and might not be suitable for your 
primary document.

One solution then  might be to have your main document as a PDF but the 
supporting ones as HTML files: as long as these (the HTML files) are created 
first you should be able to (hyper)link to specific parts (i.e. anchor tags) of 
these files in your 'Word' doc and hopefully have these links preserved  in the 
'conversion to PDF' process.

In any case I recommend keeping all your 'linked-to' files in the same 
directory as, or in a directory 'under', the main document when making the 
hyperlinks. This will permit you to copy the resulting PDF to a CD/DVD/USB 
stick or whatever along with the supporting directories/files and expect the 
links to work.

Andrew Margetts

Stephen Morey wrote:
> Making a .pdf of a complex word document
> I want to make a .pdf version of a word document that has a large number
> of internal links (bookmarks, headings &c) and a large number of
> external links. The external links are 
> a) To other .pdf files that were word documents that have bookmarks in
> them
> b) To some of the bookmarks within the other /pdf files referred to in
> (a)
> c) To sound and possibly video files in /wav and .mpg format
> respectively
> d) To photographs in .jpg format
> When trying to make the .pdf file using Adobe writer, several problems
> were encountered
> 1)      Word creates a system of relative references to files, searching
> for other files according to the relation between the source file and
> the file to be linked to. .pdf on the other hand relies on absolute
> references, which means that it searches back for the same file
> structure as the original files. 
> 2)      The main .pdf file cannot link to a bookmark in the other .pdf
> file to be linked to, nor to a bookmark in a word file. Word can do
> these things.
> 3)      Only after some significant tinkering with settings was it
> possible to get a .pdf file that linked to a .wav file so that the .wav
> file would play automatically. On those settings the document would take
> many hours to convert to .pdf as it searched and re-searched every link,
> table cell &c.
> Has anybody encountered these issues and does anyone have any ideas of
> how to deal with them?
> The background to this is that for every language example we want to
> provide a clickable link to (i) a file containing a full transcription
> and analysis of the text from which the example came, (ii) the place in
> that file where the example is found, for immediate checking of context
> and (iii) a sound file of the example so that any reader / researcher
> can listen to and check the example. 
> Many thanks to you all
> Stephen Morey

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