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Print to PDF for Genealogists

Are you fighting with your printer over another genealogy printing job? Maybe you need to go green and print to PDF.

Several years ago I published a post about printing to PDF. It was on my blog for my genealogy services website which I'm now retiring so I'm updating and republishing the article here.

You'll learn how simple it is to print to PDF and why genealogists, in particular, should love this option.



Built-in Print to PDF for Most

If you're using Windows 10, a Mac, or Linux, printing to PDF is probably built in. This post about How to Print to PDF will walk you through the steps if your Windows 10 computer doesn't have print to PDF already set-up. It also links to some browser options and a third-party option.

You can also check out this older article about print to PDF. It mentions CutePDF which I used to use. I'm suggesting the article because it mentions the bloatware you want to avoid loading with CutePDF.

Basically, there's no reason you shouldn't be printing to PDF, today.

And if you're wondering, yes, all you have to do is "print" the document but instead of selecting your paper printer, you choose the PDF printer.

Sharing Information via PDF

There are additional options instead of printing to PDF when you are saving a document to your records but printing to PDF is a fantastic option for sharing information with others. For most of my filing needs, I actually save webpages using Evernote's web clipper.

If you want to email a document you created or need to send a webpage, but not as a link, printing to PDF is likely your best option. If you email something like an MS Word document your formatting can get a little crazy. Sometimes this isn't a problem but I prefer not to risk it when printing to PDF is so simple.

A PDF document will also solve most issues when sharing from PC to Mac or Mac to PC.

Save a Digital Copy of Fillable Forms

Printing to PDF is also an option for those Adobe PDF forms that allow you to fill them out but not save the filled-in version. Obviously, you can't edit the "printed" version so you can't partially fill in the form and come back to it but if you want to email, or just retain a copy of, the completed form, this will solve your problem.

Printing Genealogy Charts

A genealogy specific use of printing to PDF is the ability to print charts on a single "sheet." You can select the paper size just like a paper printer but you aren't limited by an actual physical printer.

Fit It On One Page

Sometimes it is possible to print on an oversized page just to get everything on one sheet but then print a paper copy (for example, 11x17 can be printed on letter size with minimal distortion or you can specify 22x17 for a page exactly twice letter size).

If you're striving for paperless, this is a nice way to see everything without page breaks on your screen.

Printing Oversized PDFs

It is also easy to have a PDF printed at a local copy store (FedEx Office, Staples, Office Depot) on paper larger than your home printer can handle. If sending the file electronically won't work for you, simply place the PDF on a flash drive and take it to store where you can select from the paper options available.

At home or at a store when you print from a PDF the standard options include "shrink to fit page," "fit to page," etc. so you don't have to do any math to determine how to print on an available size paper. Once again, this will also allow you to print a formatted document, like a Word document, from another computer without your formatting being distorted.

Beautiful Footnotes

If you've carefully crafted your footnotes and made sure they didn't run onto the wrong page or break across pages, you absolutely need to print to PDF before opening your carefully edited document on another computer.

For genealogists, there are lots of uses for print to PDF and it is extremely simple to use, and free. Print to PDF will allow you to reduce the paper in your life and also control your shared or printed documents.

Do you have other ways you use print to PDF for genealogy? Leave a comment!

Learn why printing to PDF can help your genealogy. Going green is great, growing your family tree is better. | The Occasional Genealogist #genealogy #familyhistor

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