Prepare - Step 1: From a Document to a PDF

It Starts Before the PDF

Before you begin creating your file, review accessibility guidelines for the application you are working with.  If you follow accessibility guidelines when you create your document, you will have fewer manual adjustments to make for accessibility once your file is in PDF format.  For example, if creating a document using Microsoft Word:

  • Use the built-in styles for headings (Heading 1, Heading 2, etc.)
  • Identify table header rows (and keep your tables simple)
  • Add alternative image descriptions for images
  • Set preferences for Acrobat PDFMaker in Word, PowerPoint, and any other application you will be converting over from.

Video Tutorial - Preparing Your Documents Before Converting to PDF (2:25)

Converting to PDF - Options

Microsoft Office 2007 (two options)

  • Buy the full Adobe Acrobat Standard or Professional Package to obtain the PDFMaker button in Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, and Excel.  If you work for the CSU, contact your purchasing department to learn more about the pricing agreement that will lower the cost of licenses substantially.  You can also purchase a limited number of licenses to run concurrently on a server at a substantial savings.
  • Install the Microsoft Office Add-in to save files as PDF/XPS files.  Once installed, use the add-in by going to the Office Button > Save As > Select PDF or XPS file without the need to buy and install Adobe Acrobat.

Microsoft Office 2003

  • Buy the full Adobe Acrobat Standard or Professional Package to obtain PDFMaker button in Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, and Excel.

Office for Mac

You cannot create a tagged PDF document from Office for Mac.  You can, however, use OpenOffice for Mac to create tagged PDF documents.  Using OpenOffice, select File > Export as PDF; select the "taged PDF" checkbox under the General tab in the PDF options window.

Video Tutorial - Options You Can Use to Convert Your Document to PDF (3:06)

Converting to PDF Using PDFMaker (Microsoft Office Only)

Before converting your file to PDF using PDFMaker, check settings for accessibility.  Settings for PDFMaker are accessed under Preferences on the Adobe menu (Adobe PDF menu > Change Conversion Settings... in Office 2003).  For accessibility purposes, make sure that the option Enable Accessibility and Reflow with tagged Adobe PDF is checked (see screenshot below).

On the Acrobat PDFMaker window, be sure to select "Enable Accessibility and Reflow."

To use PDFMaker,

  1. Open the document in the application that was used to create it.  If you make any changes to the document, make sure that you re-save before continuing.
  2. Go to the Acrobat tab, then click Create PDF (Office 2007).  If using Office 2003, click the PDFMaker toolbar icon located in the toolbar or click the Convert to Adobe PDF option located on the Adobe PDF menu.
  3. Verify the Save in location for the resulting PDF (From the Save PDF File As dialog box), and provide a name for the new file.
  4. Click Save.
  5. Start Acrobat and open the file from there to verify that the PDF appears correct.

Converting to PDF Using "Convert to PDF" in Acrobat

This method of creating a PDF, like PDFMaker, does create a 'taged "PDF" from Microsoft Office documents.  Unfortunately, Office documents cannot be converted to PDF using this method on the Macintosh platform.

To use "Convert to PDF,"

  1. Open Acrobat.
  2. Click File > Create PDF > From File.
  3. Save the resultant PDF.

Video Tutorial - How To Use PDF Maker (2:18)


  • This training has been funded in part by the EnACT (Ensuring Access through Collaboration and Technology) grant. 
  • Written and developed by Sacramento State Online Learning professionals, Monica Range and Cryssel Vera and technical crew, Ivan Vajar, Ken Young, and Jennifer Wicks with guidance from the CSU Professional Development Work Group.


If you have difficulty accessing any material on this site or need an alternate format, or you just have questions and want to give feedback, contact the Accessible Technology Initiative.

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