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What do college students, software product managers, and deli owners have in common? Aside from the obvious answer that they are presumably human? My answer is that they can all, in one way or another, make their lives simpler and more productive using Acrobat 7 Professional.

Everybody who uses a computer has seen and worked with PDF (Portable Document Format) documents. We all know they are used for viewing documents that look and print like the original, complete with formatted text, images, and layout structure. But that, my friends, is the mere tip of the iceberg. Consider these questions:

  • Are you tired of running around the office, report draft in hand, making sure everyone has reviewed it and given you feedback?

  • What if you are a government employee and looking for a way to send plans and proposals to a select group of decision makers, while ensuring that the content is secure from unauthorized viewing? Do you hand deliver or send couriers?

  • How can you write a manual that incorporates your material and provides links to your accessory information, such as data tables, interviews, information from Web sites, and other sources?

  • What if your business wants to create an order form for your customers that can be filled out and e-mailed back to you, shortening the ordering and fulfillment process, thereby increasing your customer’s satisfaction and, ultimately, your bottom line?

  • And what about pictures? Sporting your new digital camera, you take numerous pictures of your products or services in action—how can you easily share them with colleagues and customers?

The answers to all these questions can be found in Acrobat. You just need to know how to find them.

Is This Book For You?

This book is for anyone who works in an environment where document control and management is an issue. That includes a lot of people! This book is written from a number of perspectives and directed at business persons of all types. However, this book is not written for the computer novice. I have assumed that you are familiar with your computer and have some experience with the software that coordinates so handily with Acrobat 7.

Some of the projects in the book contain a few details about working in software applications that are outside the suite of Microsoft Office products and Adobe Acrobat. For example, in a few places where I found it might be helpful to share some tips for working with files in Adobe Photoshop or InDesign, I’ve given some instructions. However, you don’t need to have those applications to follow along: In addition to the files generated by these programs, I have also included the PDF versions. These projects are useful for anyone with basic office software packages, including those who want to use them for their personal projects. The book assumes you are using Acrobat 7 Professional to build the projects, but anyone with the Adobe Reader will be able to view and use the projects once they are created.

Goals of This Book

There are over one-half billion copies of Acrobat Reader and Adobe Reader spread across the planet. That’s a lot of people who have the capability to see your work. With the introduction of Acrobat 7 Professional and its expanded functionality, now more than ever you can distribute your content easily and safely and allow your users to interact with your documents.

Simply because it is so functional in such a broad range of areas, Acrobat can be very intimidating. And when you have a deadline that’s fast approaching, it’s even more daunting a task to figure out how Acrobat can best serve your needs.

That’s where this book comes in. Adobe Acrobat 7 in the Office is a guide to using Acrobat in your office, just as its title says. In these pages, you will find a collection of case studies and scenarios that might match your own. While you may find your exact scenario portrayed in this book, it’s more likely you will read about some process or task that is on your to-do list and learn how to use Acrobat’s power to make your workday more productive. As I mentioned, Acrobat can be used in so many ways that it can overwhelm the new or casual user, or even those who use it for some situations but haven’t had the opportunity for a full exploration of the program. By identifying particular problems and then showing you how they can be solved using Acrobat, this book allows you to take these lessons and concepts and apply them to your own circumstances.

You won’t find a lot of step-by-step instructions for completing common tasks in this book, such as how to save a document. There are a number of very good books you can read that can help you do that. Nor are there instructions for working with any of the source programs that can be integrated with Acrobat, aside from the how and why of preparing documents for use in Acrobat. For example, you’ll see how to use Microsoft Word styles to generate a PDF bookmark set, but you won’t learn how to use Word styles in this book.

How to Use This Book

This book isn’t meant to be a manual, nor is it meant to be read from cover to cover—although you’re more than welcome to read it all! Instead, it looks at a range of scenarios that you may face in your workplace and shows you how Acrobat can be used to help you solve many common workflow and document management problems.

Chapter 1, “Getting Your Bearings,” describes how the program works from a functional standpoint. In this chapter, you will see how the Acrobat program is structured and how to manipulate its features. The chapter is also designed to give you terms of reference—Acrobat has many panes, panels, dialogs, and tools that can be used in combination or chosen based on how you like to work. The rest of the chapters refer to these objects, but they don’t provide specific details on how to access them. If you are interested in working with one of Acrobat’s navigation features, such as bookmarks or pages, you have to know where to find the Navigation pane. Chapter 1 tells you where to find it.

Some processes and techniques are used in more than one chapter, simply because they are so useful. The particulars of using a process vary according to the needs of a project, and that is the approach I’ve taken in this book. For example, working with binders is a great way of combining content produced from a wide range of programs into a single PDF document, and that process is incorporated into several case studies. How the content is used after it is put into a binder varies according to the problem at hand.

Make the Program Work for You

We are all becoming accustomed to working on projects as teams; sharing and collaboration is a workday reality. We are also accustomed to using multiple pieces of software to get our work done. You will be amazed at what you can do with a single program. Before digging into a whole range of ways in which you can use Acrobat to make your workday smoother and your work more efficient, I want to touch on some other ways you can make the program work for you.

One of Acrobat’s strengths is the ability to perform so many of the same functions in different ways. As you learn to work in the program, consider what you are doing and think about how you work in other programs. For example, are you always on the lookout for shortcut menus wherever you go? If so, you can use them in Acrobat. Are you very visual, and do you rely heavily on toolbars to locate tools and functions? Or are you the methodical type, organizing your world into folders and subfolders? Acrobat’s got you covered. Maybe you like to bypass the program interface altogether and have mastered the graphic designers’ world of mouse-click right hand/keystrokes left hand. Acrobat’s got that covered too.

Conventions Used in This Book

Well, the folks at Adobe are looking out for you and have a whole bunch of ways to let you work according to your needs. In this book, I generally only reference tools on toolbars and shortcut menus to make it easier to follow along; in cases where a command is only available from a menu, that is included as well. Although the screenshots show the Windows version of Acrobat, the commands throughout the book are given for both Windows and Macintosh.

Here’s an example of how instructions are presented in the book. Suppose you are reading about cropping a page. You can access the same command in these ways:

  • Right-click (Windows) / Control-click (Macintosh) the page in the Pages pane to display the shortcut menu, and choose Crop Pages (Figure 0.1).

    Figure 0.1. Shortcut menus are used to find many program functions.

  • Click the Options button on the Pages pane to display the menu, and choose Crop Pages.

  • Choose Document > Crop Pages from the main program menu.

  • Click the Crop tool on the Advanced Editing toolbar.

  • Press the “C” key on the keyboard to activate the Crop tool, if the single key accelerator preference is set in the General section of the Preferences dialog.

Although all these methods work equally well, describing them all for each operation throughout the book is repetitious and, I imagine, rather boring to read.

Online Content

The chapters in this book are based on projects that include one or many documents in a variety of formats. The source material for these projects is available free on the Acrobat 7 in the Office Web page: www.donnabaker.ca/downloads. Click the to open the book’s PDF Web interface.

Each chapter’s projects come in two or more forms—as the raw documents, and as the completed PDF document. In most cases, there is at least one interim PDF document as well. There are also many accessory files, such as source images, text files where a project calls for using a block of text, and text files for any bits of JavaScript used in the projects. The files available for download are indicated in the text with an icon in the margin .

For example, in the Chapter03 folder, you will find four JPEG images, a WAV music file, and three PDF files, each named both according to its function and the chapter’s scenario. That is, in Chapter 3, Susan first creates a PDF document named susan_raw.pdf; the file named susan_slideshow.pdf is a slideshow file; and the final version after reducing the file size is named susan.pdf.

All chapters include project files, which are listed prior to where they may be helpful if used. It isn’t necessary to download and work with the files for the projects to be useful though. They are only there to help you visualize the project details and assist you with creating the sample. Additionally, several bonus projects are included on the Web site, which take some of the case studies found within the book even further.

Not only are all these files available for the chapters in the book, but also you’ll find four extra bonus chapters online. These bonus chapters are full-length projects that show more of Acrobat’s features.

Now, let’s look at all those great features in Acrobat you’ve heard about.

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