Tips & Tricks

Creating Large-Format PDF Documents

March 19, 2004


Not everything fits neatly onto a standard page. Sometimes you need a larger page size, especially if you're creating engineering drawings or other technical documents. Adobe Acrobat 6.0 supports ISO, ANSI, JSI, and ARCH formats, making it easy to produce high-quality PDF documents from virtually any large-format document. Just use the Adobe PDF printer -- which is automatically installed with Adobe Acrobat 6.0 -- to print from your application, and customize the page dimensions for the size you need.

1. Save the document in the original application

Finalize the large-format document in the original application, such as Autodesk AutoCAD, Microsoft Visio, Microsoft Project, or Adobe InDesign. Be sure to specify the appropriate page size. In most applications, you'll specify the page size in the Page Setup, Document Setup, Print Setup, or similar dialog box.

If you're using Mac OS, you can add a custom paper size: In the original application, choose Custom Paper Size from the Settings pop-up menu in the Page Setup or similar dialog box. Click New, name the custom paper size, specify its dimensions and margins, click Save, and then click OK to close the dialog box. Then, to select your custom paper size, return to the Page Setup dialog box, choose Adobe PDF from the Format For pop-up manu, and choose the custom paper size you created.

2. Select the Adobe PDF printer

Still in the original application, choose File > Print, and choose Adobe PDF for the printer. Or, if you're using Visio or AutoCAD for Windows, which use Adobe PDFMaker, just click the Convert to Adobe PDF button, select the layers you want to include, and then click Convert to Adobe PDF. PDFMaker automatically creates the PDF document using the page size you've specified in Visio or AutoCAD.

The Adobe PDF printer is automatically installed on your system when you install Acrobat 6.0. With the Adobe PDF printer, you can create a PDF document from any application that can print to a printer.

3. Specify settings for the PDF document

If you're using Windows, click Properties. (In some applications, you may need to click Setup and then click Properties or Preferences.) If you're using Mac OS, choose PDF Options from the pop-up menu in the Print dialog box (by default, Copies & Pages appears in this menu). Then specify the settings you want to use for the document, such as security options and font embedding.

By default, the Adobe PDF printer in Windows uses the settings specified in the Printers or Printers and Faxes control panel; the Adobe PDF printer in Mac OS uses the settings you used the previous time you used it to create a PDF document. To create a large-format document, you may need to override or change those settings.

4. Specify the paper size

In Windows, choose a page size on the Adobe PDF Settings tab; if the page size you want isn't listed, click Add Custom Page, name your custom page size, enter its height and width values, and click Add/Modify to add it to the Adobe PDF Page Size menu. When you define a custom page size, it becomes the default PostScript custom page size until you change it. To edit the page size definition, click Edit Custom Page.

In Mac OS, the Adobe PDF printer uses the paper size you chose in the Page Setup dialog box.

5. Create the PDF document

Click Print. Name the PDF document and specify a location for the file, and then click Save.

By default, the Adobe PDF document is saved with the same name as the original document, but with a PDF extension.

This tip is reprinted with permission from

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