So… final papers are almost due. Probably the last thing on your mind is how to turn them in, but to the HackCollege team, even the most minute details are important to us. We’ve got your back.

Now. With some professors, they just want a hard copy of your final paper. Your only problem there is finding a printer, some paper, and probably a stapler. But some professors want it sent electronically. And then some professors want both. Geez!

Turning toward these last two types of professors, some will accept a .doc just fine. Why not “wow” your professor, though? Send a .pdf!

“But what’s a .pdf?” you ask. A quick dart over to Wikipedia tells you:

Portable Document Format (PDF) is an open file format created and controlled by Adobe Systems, for representing two-dimensional documents in a device independent and resolution independent fixed-layout document format. Each PDF file encapsulates a complete description of a 2D document (and, with the advent of Acrobat 3D, embedded 3D documents) that includes the text, fonts, images, and 2D vector graphics that compose the document. PDF files do not encode information that is specific to the application software, hardware, or operating system used to create or view the document. This feature ensures that a valid PDF will render exactly the same regardless of its origin or destination (but depending on font availability when fonts are not encapsulated in the file).

“But why send a .pdf?” you ask.

Well, a .pdf is smaller than a .doc; a .pdf will also run on any operating system. If those two reasons don’t already convince you, then let me tell you that a .pdf will look to your viewer exactly as it did to you, no matter what fonts you use, no matter what screen resolution you have! And… they’re more professional!

So. Stop reading this entry and get yourself in on some free, open-source software to turn any .doc into a .pdf with PDFCreator:

PDFCreator easily creates PDFs from any Windows program. Use it like a printer in Word, StarCalc or any other Windows application.

Operating System: 32-bit MS Windows (95/98), All 32-bit MS Windows (95/98/NT/2000/XP)
License: GNU General Public License (GPL)

Edit by Kelly: And for those of you that are using OS X, this functionality is built in. Just select Adobe PDF 7.0 as your printer for the document. Sometimes Apple just gets it right.