The Portable Document Format, or PDF, was developed by Adobe Systems and has become the industry standard for document sharing. A PDF document is an exact replica of the original document, whether it's a word-processing or text file, graphical drawing, photo, map, or even video. And it can be password protected so that access to features like editing and printing are restricted [source: Adobe].

In order to create and view a PDF, you must have the proper software installed. The most well-known PDF-creation software is Adobe Acrobat. Although you must purchase this software, Adobe offers a free PDF viewer called Adobe Reader, which you can download from their Web site.

In addition, several good third-party PDF applications can downloaded for free. Some of these can covert PDFs back into the original documents. Some products, such as Microsoft Office 2007, have built-in PDF converters. Here's how to convert an MS Word document into a PDF in MS Word 2007:

  1. Click the Office button.
  2. Move the mouse pointer over the arrow next to the Save As button and select PDF or XPS.
  3. Type a name for the PDF in the File Name box or select one from the list of files.
  4. Choose PDF in the Save as type drop down list.
  5. Select Open file after publishing to open the new PDF after it has been created and saved. This option is only available if your computer has an installed PDF reader.
  6. Choose Standard (publishing online and printing) or Minimum size (publishing online) under Optimize for, depending on whether or not you want better print quality or lower file size, respectively.
  7. Click Options and set the appropriate print options.
  8. Click OK.
  9. Click Publish to start the PDF creation process. If you need to make any corrections or changes to the PDF, make them to the original Word document and then create a new PDF document [source: Microsoft Office].