Creating PDFs

Writer can export documents to PDF (Portable Document Format).

Be sure to check with your print-on-demand service for any special requirements they may have regarding PDFs. For example, at the time of writing, Lulu.com says:

  • Graphics must not have transparency. If necessary, use your image processing program to remove the transparency. (Consult that program’s documentation for how to do this.)
  • Graphics/images should be in grayscale, not color, at a resolution of no more than 600 dpi (300 dpi preferred). You can set this during PDF export.

Note that the best settings for PDFs intended for printing may be different from the best settings for PDFs to be read onscreen (for example, as an e-book), so if you want to make your book available in both printed and e-book forms, you may want to create two PDFs using different settings.

Quick export to PDF

Click the Export Directly as PDF icon Export Directly to PDF icon to export the entire document using your default PDF settings. You are asked to enter the file name and location for the PDF file, but you do not get a chance to choose a page range or the print quality; direct export uses the last set of selections made through the PDF Options dialog.

Controlling PDF content and quality

For more control over the content and quality of the resulting PDF, use File > Export as PDF. you are asked to enter the location and file name of the PDF to be created, and then the PDF Options dialog opens. This dialog has five pages (General, Initial View, User Interface, Links, and Security). Make your selections, and then click Export.

General tab of PDF Options dialog

On the General tab, you can choose which pages to include in the PDF, the type of compression to use for images (which affects the quality of images in the PDF), and other options.

General page of PDF Options dialog

General page of PDF Options dialog

Range section

All
Exports the entire document. This is the setting you would normally use for creating a PDF of a book.

Pages
For testing purpose, you might want to export only a few sample pages. For a range of pages, use the format 3-6 (pages 3 to 6); for single pages, use the format 7;9;11 (pages 7, 9, and 11). You can also export a combination of page ranges and single pages, by using a format like 3-6;8;10;12.

Selection
Exports whatever material is selected.

Images section

Lossless compression
Images are exported without any loss of quality. Tends to make large files when used with photographs, and may not be suitable for print-on-demand.

JPEG compression
Allows for varying degrees of quality. A setting of 90% tends to work well with photographs.

Reduce image resolution
For print-on-demand publishing, you may need to set this for 300 or 600 dpi (dots per inch). Lower-dpi images are suitable for Web pages but not for printed books, and higher dpi may be rejected by printers.

General section

PDF/A-1
This is the format especially designed for long term preservation. The fonts used will be embedded in the PDF file, therefore the document will appear exactly as the author intended even if the machine where it is viewed does not support the chosen font types. Note that PDF/A-1 forbids transparency, and includes PDF tags automatically.

Tagged PDF
Exports special tags into the corresponding PDF tags. This option is relevant only for onscreen viewing of PDFs.

Create PDF form
Choose the format of submitting forms from within the PDF file. Not relevant to print-on-demand or most e-books; do not select.

Export bookmarks
Creates PDF bookmarks for all outline paragraphs and for all table of contents entries for which you did assign hyperlinks. Not relevant for printed books. If you plan to sell your book as a PDF, select this option.

Export notes
Exports notes in as PDF notes. You probably do not want this!

Use transition effects
Not available in Writer.

Export automatically inserted blank pages
If selected, automatically inserted blank pages are exported to the PDF. Books usually have chapters set to always start on an odd-numbered (right-hand) page. When the previous chapter ends on an odd page, Writer inserts a blank page between the two odd pages. For printed books, select this option or your book might be printed incorrectly.

Initial View, User Interface, and Links tabs

These tabs are relevant only for books to be distributed as PDFs, not printed. See Getting Started with OpenOffice.org 3 or the Writer Guide for details.

Security tab

PDF export includes options to encrypt the PDF (so it cannot be opened without a password) and apply some digital rights management (DRM) features.

For PDFs to be printed, do not set any passwords. Printers cannot handle passworded files. If you are planning to distribute your book as a PDF, you may wish to set some of these passwords. See Getting Started with OpenOffice.org 3 or the Writer Guide for details.

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This book is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, version 3.0.

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7 comments on “Creating PDFs
  1. Curtis says:

    I wish to place a graphic on page three (In a document I have made with Open Office Writer) and then set it’s transparency to 70. This allows the print behind it to show through (The print is Garmond Bold). The desired effect is for the reader to see the print on top of the graphic. For example: The heading “911 Trajedy” is first typed onto page number three of my Open Office Writer document. Then I import the drawing of the twin towers to this same page and then make it transparent to 70. Now when I look at my document, I see on page three a heading that says “911 Trajedy” with the image of the twin towers in the background. HOWEVER, when I attempt to covert the document to PDF format, a screen appears saying “PDF does not allow transparencies, it will be made opaque instead” (or something like that). When the document is then digitally printed I get a very unsatisfactory result. The heading becomes a lighter shade of black with a bit of transparency in it. I can see the drawing of the twin towers through the bold letters of the heading. I only need this graphic on page three. I need the grphic in the background with the bold lettered heading in the front with no transparency. How do I acheive this effect?

    TRhank you very much.

  2. Jean says:

    I am unable to duplicate the problem on screen, so perhaps it only shows up when the page is printed.
    I assume you are using the PDF/A-1a option on the General page of the PDF Export dialog, as that produces the transparency message you mention. When that option is not selected, that message does not appear.
    I realise that some digital printers don’t allow transparency, so files with transparency must be exported using PDF/A-1a.
    Without doing more testing than I have time for, I don’t know what to suggest to solve your problem. Have you tried asking on the OOo Forum? http://user.services.openoffice.org/en/forum/ Someone there might know the answer. This is a common requirement, so I’m sure there IS an answer.

  3. Georg says:

    Hi,
    I sometimes use transparent boxes as a background to highlight text on slides.
    Using current Openoffice, exporting color transparent objects to PDF works fine.
    With LibreOffice 3.4.2 on LinuxMint Debian (testing) colored boxes with transparency are converted to a gray somewhat transparent box. Colors are gone, the degree of transparency as well. (I do _not_ export in PDF 1A format.)
    Seems to be a problem of PDF export in LibreOffice.
    If I print from LibreOffice to a cups-pdf printer – same problem.
    Regards, georg

  4. Jean says:

    I’ve heard of other PDF-related problems with LO on Linux, though I don’t recall the details. May be fixed in V 3.4.3, just out?

  5. Jeff Martens says:

    How do I set LibreOffice so that PDF/A-1 is the default? I generate PDFs on Linux, usually using LaTeX but sometimes LibreOffice, and students on Windows systems need to be able to view the PDFs. Thanks!

  6. Jean says:

    AFAIK, the built-in PDF creator defaults to whatever the last-used PDF settings were.

  7. Jeff Martens says:

    It does–I hadn’t noticed that. Thanks!

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