2015 by Donald R. Snow

This page was last updated 2015-02-20
Return to the  Utah Valley Technology and Genealogy Group Home Page  or  Don's Class Listings Page .


  1. Instructor is Donald R. Snow ( snowd@math.byu.edu ) of Provo and St. George, Utah.
  2. These note are posted on  http://uvtagg.org/classes/dons/dons-classes.html .
  3. Tips:  (1)  Easy to put an icon on your desktop for the URL for these notes or any URL; just drag the icon from in front of the address in your browser to your desktop.  (2)  To open a link from here in another tab, but keep your place in these notes, hold down the Control key while clicking the link.
  4. The problem for today:  How do you work with pdf's (Portable Document Format) and documents?  Documentation is extremely important in family history; without it our genealogy is only hearsay.

  6. Images of documents can be in any image format such as pdf, jpg, tif, png, ePub, and others, but pdf is the most common format for images of documents
  7. pdf's are pictures of the document pages so they look exactly the same on any computer whether Windows, Apple, Linux, etc.; because of this many organizations, including the LDS Church, have adopted it for their documents
  8. Adobe developed the format in the early 1990's and released it to the general public a few years later; now used world-wide -- see history of pdf in  Wikipedia 
  9. Types of pdf's
    1. pdf's with text layer -- hence, searchable -- the text layer is an overlay that identifies symbols of the image as words
    2. pdf's without text layer -- hence, not searchable
    3. Several new pdf formats -- encrypted, password-protected, etc., but we won't discuss those here
    4. Can be in many resolutions, e.g. 150 dpi (dots per inch), 300 dpi, ad 600 dpi
  10. Things people do with pdf's -- read, print, search, edit, convert, split, merge, rotate, annotate, email, upload to FamilySearch, etc.

  12. Text editors such as LibreOffice, OpenOffice, Word, WordPerfect, etc. -- they print directly to pdf in their menus
  13. Scanners, flatbed and other types
  14. Screen capture programs such as the old version  FastStone Capture 5.3 
  15. Downloading books from  FamilySearch , Google , Internet Archive , and HeritageQuest Online
  16. Downloading from websites such as  https://www.lds.org/?lang=eng -- LDS Church manuals, handbooks, magazines, conference reports are all in pdf
  17. Conversions from many other formats 
    1. Good conversion-to-pdf program is  7-PDF Maker -- see review and link on  dotTech
    2. IrfanView  splits tif's into separate pages or creates multipage tif's from separate tif's, e.g. when you scan both sides of a photo on PS Photo Scanner at FS Lib; sequence of commands is Image > Add Files > tell it where to put them and click Create -- can later convert to pdf's, if wanted
    3. Hexonic  does batch conversions from tif's to pdf's, also does pdf editing with splits and merges
    4. Can convert from many formats by just printing the file to a pdf printer -- see below


  18. Many freeware programs read pdf's on computers, tablets, and smartphones; some show one page at a time, some show two pages open like a book 
  19. List of pdf programs in various categories -- Wikipedia  
  20. Adobe Reader XI -- freeware, NOT the full expensive Adobe Acrobat program; be careful when downloading and installing or you get bloatware with it -- Reader 11 has some annotation features, so it's also a pdf editor 
  21. Sumatra PDF -- freeware, very fast reader, easy to use 
  22. Gizmo's List of top 5 pdf Readers 
  23. Calibre -- good book cataloger, reader, and converter; organizes all the pdf's, ePub's, etc., that it finds on your computer and allows you to read or convert them in various ways and formats  

  25. Printing to pdf
    1. Instead of printing hardcopies you can print to pdf from any program that prints by using a pdf printer -- pdf printers install just like an ordinary printer on your computer, then select that instead of your hardcopy printer and you get a pdf of whatever you were going to print on paper -- I leave my computer set to print to pdf so I can see exactly what the print will look like and then print from the pdf; frequently I don't even need a hard copy, so I just save the pdf copy
    2. Gizmo's Reviews of pdf writers
    3. Many good pdf printers -- CutePDF
    4. Most text editors will print directly to pdf, e.g.  LibreOffice , OpenOffice , and Word -- sometimes called "Publish" in the menu
  26. Many good free pdf editors -- a good program is Adobe Acrobat , but is expensive
    1. List of best free pdf editors -- Gizmo's Review of Best Free PDF Tools  -- this page has lots of other good information about working with pdf's 
    2. LibreOffice -- freeware, can import pdf's into its DRAW program, edit them, and export as edited pdf's, but it's not as simple as writing text
    3. Annotating -- putting text and/or sticky tabs anywhere on the page -- PDF-XChangeViewer  and  Nitro Reader Free 
    4. Can save a pdf form, fill it in with an editor, save filled in form, then print it for the doctor, etc.
  27. Spliting, merging, and rotating pages 
    1. Split, merge, and rotate pdf's -- pdfsam  and  7-PDF Maker  and  PDFill Free PDF Tools -- create several pdf's from one or create a single pdf from several 
    2. Splitting out every page -- sometimes called "bursting" the file -- it helps to have some way of numbering the pages if you do split out every page
  28. Renaming
    1. Use Windows Explorer with Preview Panel (right side) open to see what's in the pdf without having to open it -- can then easily rename the file
    2. If you want pages to sort in order, rename the files with numbers ### in front of file name; include leading 0's, if needed
    3. If several pages have same file name, can use numbering with ###a, ###b, etc.
    4. If you are scanning a large document or book, I find it helps to number the pages in pencil before scanning, so you can see the page number later 
    5. Bulk File Namer -- very useful to rename collections of files
    6. My file naming system makes file findable and sort in order -- see my Supplementary Notes pages


  29. To be searchable pdf's must include the text layer (OCR = Optical Character Recognition) which identifies the characters on the page as words; when you download books from  FamilySearch Books  and  Internet Archive  they have the text layer, but not with books from  Google
  30. Freeware program with built-in OCR is  PDF-XChangeViewer -- open the pdf, click on OCR, when finished, save it with a new name so you don't wipe out your old version; the new pdf is then searchable in any reader with search capabilities; PDF-XChangeViewer does a reasonable job, but not as good as commercial OCR programs 

  32. Working with pdf's is very helpful in family history since you can do things like save documents in this format, OCR them so they are searchable, print them later, upload them to FamilySearch Family Tree, email them to family and other researchers, and read them on mobile devices.
  33. There is much more in dealing with pdf's; other pages of my notes and  Supplementary Notes  pages have additional information and programs, including my naming system for files so they sort in chronological order for the person or event.

Return to the  Utah Valley Technology and Genealogy Group Home Page  or  Don's Class Listings Page .