In the past, extra software packages were required to create PDFs.  Now, however, most users can create PDFs directly from their word processor.  While there are many resources online to create a PDF, many of them free, a better PDF can typically be created using your word processor itself. 

Here are instructions for using the most popular word processors:

Word 2010 and later versions:
  1. Open the doc in Word.
  2. Go to File > Export > Create PDF document.
  3. Under “Optimize for”, there are two options, “Standard” and “Minimum size.”  Choose “Standard,” so that graphics retain their resolution.
  4. Click the “Options” button, opening the Options dialog.
  5. In that dialog, make sure that two boxes are checked: “Document structure tags for accessibility” (so that assistive technologies such as screen readers are enabled) and “PDF/A compliant.”  (PDF/A means that the resulting PDF will be archival quality, where the fonts necessary to rendering the file are embedded in the document).
  6. Click “Okay.”
  7. Hit “Publish.”
 
Word 2007:  In order to create a PDF from Word 2007, you may need to download a free add-in for Word from the Microsoft website: “2007 Microsoft Add-in:  Microsoft Save as PDF or XPS”
  1. Open the document in Word.
  2. Click the Microsoft Office Button > Save As > PDF.
  3. Under “Optimize for”, there are two options, “Standard” and “Minimum size.”  Choose “Standard,” so that graphics retain their resolution.
  4. Click the “Options” button.
  5. In the Options dialog, make sure that two boxes are checked: “Document structure tags for accessibility” (so that assistive technologies such as screen readers can utilize the document) and “ISO 19005-1 compliant (PDF/A).”  (PDF/A means that the resulting PDF will be archival quality, where the fonts necessary to rendering the file are embedded in the document).
  6. Click “Okay.”
  7. Hit “Publish.”
 
Apache Open Office
  1. Open the document in Open Office.
  2. Go to File > Export as PDF.
  3. Under the “General” tab, there are several options. 
    1. If you use “Reduce Image Resolution,” please go no smaller than 300 DPI. 
    2. Make sure that the “PDF/A-1a” box is checked, which will ensure that all fonts are embedded.  The “Tagged PDF” box will automatically be selected, which will allow assistive technologies such as screen readers to utilize the document.
    3. You may also wish to “Export bookmarks,” which will allow users to navigate your document more easily.
  4. Click the “Export” button.
 
WordPerfect:
  1. Open the document in WordPerfect.
  2. Go to File > Publish > PDF.
  3. Click the “Settings” button.
  4. Under the “General” tab, select “Publishing Online and Printing” as the PDF Style.
  5. Under the “Objects” tab, make sure that “Embed fonts in document” and “Embed base 14 fonts” are checked.  (Other boxes might be checked as well; this is not a problem).
  6. Under the “Document” tab, check the box for “Generate Tagged PDF”, so that assistive technologies such as screen readers can utilize the document.  You may also want to check the boxes for “Include hyperlinks” and “Generate bookmarks.”
  7. Click “Okay.”
 
Google Docs:
  1. While it is possible to download a Google Doc straight to PDF, there aren’t a lot of options available regarding the quality of the PDF.  We therefore recommend downloading it as a Word document or as an OpenDocument and following the directions above.
    1. If you have Word, Go to File > Download As > Microsoft Word (.docx)
    2. If you don’t have Word, you can use the OpenDoc format with the free, open source Apache Open Office (https://openoffice.org).  Go to File > Download As > OpenDocument Format (.odt)