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The Ultimate Guide to Converting Text to PDF
Converting text documents to PDF format can be extremely useful for distributing and archiving documents. A PDF version of a text file allows the formatting, images, fonts, and layout to be preserved exactly as intended across different operating systems and devices.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll cover everything you need to know about converting text to PDF, including the pros and cons of PDF format, the best text to PDF converters for different needs, and step-by-step instructions for converting text files to PDF.
Overview of Converting Text to PDF
What is a PDF File?
PDF (Portable Document Format) is a file format developed by Adobe in the 1990s. PDF files preserve the visual appearance of documents across different operating systems and devices. When you convert a text file to PDF, it will look exactly the same on any computer, phone, or tablet.
The PDF format also supports features not available in plain text files, like:
- Embedding fonts, images, and graphics
- Adding links, bookmarks, and metadata
- Applying password protection and encryption
- Enabling commenting and collaborative editing
- Creating fillable forms
- And more
This makes PDF a great format for sharing documents intended for printing or digital distribution.
Reasons to Convert Text to PDF
Here are some of the top reasons you may want to convert text documents to PDFs:
- Preserve Formatting – When you convert text to PDF, all the original formatting like fonts, indents, line spacing, and page breaks is retained.
- Cross-Platform Compatibility – PDF files look the same and can be opened on any device with a PDF reader installed. You don’t have to worry about formatting changes between platforms.
- Smaller File Size – PDF files are typically smaller than their source documents, making them easier to email and store. PDFs can often compress file size down to 10% or less of the original document size.
- Security – PDFs allow you to add password protection, block copying/printing, apply digital signatures, and more. This makes them ideal for sensitive documents.
- Archiving – The PDF/A subset ISO standard is designed for long-term archiving of documents, with strict requirements for embedding information needed to reproduce them in the future.
- Accessibility – PDF files can contain tags, hyperlinks, bookmarks and other navigation aids that help make content accessible for people with disabilities.
- Compliance – PDF/A and other PDF subsets meet legal and regulatory standards for document retention, electronic signatures, HIPAA compliance, and more.
- Collaboration – PDF supports commenting, editing, and document review features that allow multiple people to collaborate on documents.
Disadvantages of PDF Format
While PDF offers many benefits, there are a few downsides to be aware of:
- Larger File Size – Although PDFs are often smaller than their source documents, they can sometimes end up being larger, especially if images and graphics are embedded.
- Not Machine Readable – Unlike plaintext files, PDF documents are designed for human viewing and can’t be easily parsed by search engines or other automated tools.
- Formatting Limitations – While PDF preserves a text file’s formatting, it doesn’t allow editing those styles within the PDF. You have to edit the original source document.
- Security Risks – The same document protections that PDF offers can be exploited by attackers to secretly embed malware or hide malicious code.
- Limited Editing Capabilities – PDF editors don’t offer the full range of formatting, editing and layout options you get in word processors and page layout tools.
- Not Ideal for Complex Documents – PDF works best for simpler, primarily text-based documents. More complex publications with tables, graphics, multimedia or interactivity can be difficult to convert properly.
Overall though, the benefits of PDFs far outweigh the potential drawbacks in most use cases. Let’s look at the best tools available for converting text to PDF.
Best Text to PDF Converters
There are many different software options available to handle text to PDF conversion. Here we’ll highlight some of the top choices in different categories.
Online Text to PDF Converters
Online converters allow you to quickly and easily convert text to PDF right within your web browser, without needing to install any software.
- Completely free with no limits on usage or file sizes
- Supports TXT, DOC, DOCX, RTF, ODT and other text formats
- Clean, simple interface that’s easy to use
- Advanced options like PDF/A compliance, font embedding, metadata
- Secure 256-bit SSL encryption
- Fast processing time
- Batch conversion for multiple files
- Customize PDF layout, page size, margins
- Add text, images, page numbers, headers, footers
- Our top recommendation for quickly and securely converting text to PDF online
- Convert text files like DOC, DOCX, RTF, TXT to PDF
- Login required with free Adobe account
- Clean, familiar Acrobat interface
- Can e-sign, share, and export PDFs
- Limited free usage, paid plans available
- No batch conversion
- Supports TXT, DOC, RTF, HTML, ePub text formats
- Change page size, margins, orientation
- Protect PDFs with password
- Login required to use
- Usage limits on free plan
- Shows ads and watermark
- 200 MB free usage per day
- Batch conversion available
- Additional security and encryption
- Paid plans for more features and usage
Desktop Text to PDF Converters
For frequent high-volume conversions, desktop software can provide more features and flexibility than online tools. Here are some top picks:
- The industry standard for robust PDF creation and editing
- Convert text files like DOC, DOCX, RTF, TXT to PDF
- Create interactive, dynamic PDF forms and portfolios
- Compare, combine, and edit PDFs
- Advanced security options
- Automate conversions with Actions
- Pricey subscription license
- User-friendly PDF creator and editor
- Batch convert text files to PDF
- Annotate, edit, combine, and e-sign PDFs
- OCR for making scanned documents searchable
- Affordable one-time purchase or subscription
- Convert text to PDF and create fillable forms
- Edit, annotate, sign PDFs
- OCR for scanned documents
- Affordable pricing
- Windows and Mac versions available
- Specialized TXT to PDF converter
- Simple print driver interface
- Affordable lifetime license fee
- Limited to basic PDF creation
- Windows only
Mobile Text to PDF Converters
For converting text to PDF on the go, mobile apps provide convenient options:
- Uses phone camera to snap photos of text pages and convert to PDF
- Automatically recognizes document margins for straightening
- Enhance scanned text readability with image processing
- Sync and export PDFs across devices
- Free mobile scanning app
- iOS/Android app for scanning documents to PDF or Word
- Automatically straighten and enhance text
- Integrates with OneDrive for easy sharing
- Free mobile scanning from Microsoft
Scanner Pro App (iOS only)
- Advanced image processing for clean text scans
- Automatic document cropping and text straightening
- iCloud and external app integration
- File management and organization
- $4.99 on the App Store
Command Line Text to PDF Converters
For developers and IT professionals automating document conversion workflows, command line tools provide flexibility:
- Open source office suite
- Command line interface for headless conversion
- Convert text docs to PDF with unoconv tool
- Available on Windows, Mac, Linux
- Open source document converter
- Convert plaintext to PDF via LaTeX
- Supports Markdown, HTML, DocBook and many other formats
- Customizable output with templates
- Free and open source
- Uses WebKit rendering engine to convert HTML/CSS to PDF
- Great for converting web pages to PDF
- Command line interface
- Available on Linux, Windows and Mac OS
- Python library and tool for HTML/CSS to PDF
- Creates PDFs based on browser rendering
- Can be run as a script or from the command line
- Free and open source
Programming Language Text to PDF Converters
For developers building custom solutions, text to PDF conversion libraries are available in most languages:
- Java – iText, Apache PDFBox
- C# – IronPDF, Spire.PDF
- PHP – FPDF,TCPDF
- Python – fpdf, pyPdf, PDFMiner
- Ruby – Prawn, HexaPDF
- Go – UniDoc, gopdf
- Rust – printpdf, rust-pdf
- C/C++ – PoDoFo, libHaru
This allows converting text to PDF programmatically on servers or directly within apps. The libraries handle the complex PDF format details so developers can focus on integration.
How to Convert Text Files to PDF
Now that you’ve seen the top tools available, let’s go through the step-by-step process for converting text to PDF using both desktop and online converters.
Using Desktop Software
Most desktop PDF converters like Adobe Acrobat DC use a simple “Print to PDF” virtual printer interface to convert documents. Here’s how it works:
- Open the text document (TXT, DOC, RTF, etc) in its default application.
- Select “Print” just as if you were printing to a physical printer.
- Instead of choosing your regular printer, select the converter’s special PDF printer (such as “Adobe PDF” or “Nitro PDF Creator”).
- Adjust any conversion settings if offered, like PDF quality, security, or file name.
- Click “Print”. A window will open showing the document converting to PDF.
- Once finished, click to open the converted PDF file and confirm everything looks correct.
The virtual PDF printer approach makes converting text documents seamless. Everything happens behind the scenes as if you’re just printing normally.
Using Online Converters
Online text to PDF converters follow a simplified workflow:
- Go to the converter website and click the upload button or drag files onto the page.
- Select the text files you want to convert. Most support DOC, DOCX, RTF, TXT and other formats.
- Once uploaded, files will begin converting automatically based on default settings.
- Click on each completed PDF to preview and download it.
- Check that the formatting in the PDF matches the original text document.
Online converters skip the printer interface and convert uploaded text files directly on secure remote servers. This allows accessing text to PDF conversion anywhere through a web browser.
Text to PDF Conversion Settings
Both desktop and online converters provide options to customize the PDF output:
- Page Size – Letter, legal, A4, custom
- Orientation – Portrait or landscape
- Margins – Set all margins or individually
- Font Embedding – Embed text fonts in PDF
- PDF/A Compliance – For archiving standards
- Metadata – Add document info like author, title, keywords
- Security – Add password protection or permissions
Look for an options or settings panel in your converter to configure these PDF parameters as needed for your use case.
Advanced Text to PDF Tips and Tricks
Beyond basic conversion, there are some handy tips for getting the most control out of converting text documents to PDF.
Insert Headers, Footers and Page Numbers
Most converters provide options for automatically adding text to the tops or bottoms of pages, like page numbers or titles. This is helpful for long reports, whitepapers, or book chapters.
Include a Table of Contents
If converting a long text document like a book, you can add a dynamic table of contents page that links to each chapter. The PDF converter scans for headings to build the TOC automatically. Just make sure headings are styled consistently in the source document.
Add an Index or Glossary
Similar to a table of contents, converters that support indexing can scan the text and pull out key terms and concepts to build an index or glossary. Useful for manuals, textbooks, reports and other long-form documents.
Insert Images, Logos and Graphics
Beyond just text, you can embed images directly into the converted PDF by referencing image file paths. Useful for adding logos, photos, diagrams, or visuals to enhance documents.
Create Interactive Forms
Advance converters allow converting text documents into fillable PDF forms. Form fields like text boxes, checkmarks, and dropdowns can be added to create digital forms for surveys, applications, order forms and more.
Apply PDF/A Standard Conversion
For archiving documents that need to remain readable in the future, enable PDF/A conversion mode. PDF/A strictly defines fonts, colorspaces, metadata and file formats to maximize long-term compatibility.
Help! My Text Won’t Convert Properly to PDF
Don’t panic if your text document runs into issues converting to PDF. Here are some troubleshooting tips:
- Try converting a simpler document. Issues are often caused by complex formatting that doesn’t carry over well to PDF. Try stripping down the document to simplify it.
- Open the document in its native application first and use the “Print” command from there. Going through the original app often resolves issues.
- Update your converter software and source document application to the latest versions. Improvements for compatibility are constantly being added.
- Try exporting the text file to an intermediary format like DOCX or RTF first, then convert the intermediate file to PDF rather than direct conversion.
- For command line converters, adjust arguments and parameters to troubleshoot formatting problems during conversion.
- Reach out to converter technical support with specific details about your document and the issues experienced. They may have specialized advice.
- As a last resort, consider re-creating the source text document to eliminate problematic formatting. Copy and paste the text into a new document, then style it with only the minimal formatting required.
Don’t let conversion challenges slow you down. With persistence and the right troubleshooting, virtually any text document can be wrangled into a great looking PDF.
Frequently Asked Questions About Converting Text to PDF
Here are answers to some of the most common questions about transforming text documents into PDF format:
What types of text files can be converted to PDF?
Most converters support plain text (TXT), Rich Text Format (RTF), Microsoft Word (DOC/DOCX), OpenOffice (ODT), ebooks (EPUB) and web pages (HTML). Some also support legacy word processor formats like WordPerfect (WPD) and works processed files (WPS).
Will my text formatting convert properly to PDF?
In most cases yes, as PDF is designed to preserve document formatting identically. But for complex documents, some refinement may be needed to smooth out conversion. Simplify formatting in the text file before converting whenever possible.
Is converting text to PDF free?
Many free online converters allow limited text to PDF conversion. For bulk conversion or advanced features, paid converters like Adobe Acrobat Pro provide greater capabilities.
Can I password protect or encrypt my text PDFs?
Yes, most converters allow applying PDF passwords and encryption to restrict access and prevent unauthorized printing or copying of sensitive text documents.
How big will my text PDF files be?
PDFs are typically 10-20% of the original text file size or smaller, thanks to PDF’s compression techniques. But file size can grow if you embed lots of images or graphics in the PDF.
How long does it take to convert text to PDF?
Online conversions take just seconds, while desktop software can take a minute or two depending on the text file size and complexity. For large batches of files, conversion speed is something to consider when picking a converter.
Can I convert scanned documents to text PDFs?
Yes, Optical Character Recognition (OCR) can be used to analyze scanned documents or images with text and convert them into searchable, selectable PDFs or editable document formats.
Converting Text Files to PDFs Made Simple
As you can see, turning text documents into PDF format is quick, easy, and accessible using the wide range of available conversion tools.
Whether you need to generate PDFs from simple plain text files or complex formatted documents, share reports across devices, or archive libraries of legacy word-processed files, the right converter makes it a breeze.
To recap, here are the key things to keep in mind:
- PDF format preserves text formatting and allows adding security, forms, and metadata beyond plain text capabilities.
- Online converters provide the fastest and easiest way to generate PDFs from text files using any web browser.
- Desktop software gives more control for bulk processing or automating text to PDF workflows.
- Mobile apps convert documents on the go via mobile cameras and cloud integration.
- For developers, API libraries enable building custom conversion systems.
- Simple text files convert quickest, while complex formatting may require troubleshooting.
- Password protection, compression, and accessibility options enhance published PDF documents.
- Proper PDF conversion creates portable, professional documents ready for distribution.
Optimized24 for All Your Text to PDF Needs
For superior text to PDF conversion capability, put the power of Optimized24 on your side.
Our free online Text to PDF Converter makes transforming any text document to PDF a breeze right within your web browser.
Just upload TXT, DOC, DOCX, RTF, ODT or other text files and let our secure system do the work. Batch convert unlimited documents with our unlimited free usage policy.
Plus, our converter offers advanced options unavailable in competitors:
- ☑️ Select PDF output compliance standards like PDF/A for archiving
- ☑️ Define document metadata like title, author and keywords
- ☑️ Embed custom fonts to perfectly match source formatting
- ☑️ Insert headers, footers and page numbers
- ☑️ Protect PDFs with password encryption and permissions
- ☑️ Customize page size, orientation, margins and more
We process all text to PDF conversions on secure Amazon Web Services cloud infrastructure. Your documents remain safe and confidential under 256-bit SSL encryption.
Beyond just basic PDF output, our suite of SEO tools provides all the resources you need to optimize content for search engines and readers.
From keyword research to readability analysis, plagiarism checking to Google ranking – we have every tool to amplify your success.
Visit Optimized24 to access enterprise-grade capabilities with single-click simplicity. Value, security and performance you won’t find anywhere else online.
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