Making PDF documents from (La)TeX
There are three general routes to PDF output: Adobe's original “distillation” route (via PostScript output), direct conversion of a DVI file, and the use of a direct TeX-like PDF generator such as pdfTeX.
For simple documents (with no hyper-references), you can either
- process the document in the normal way, produce PostScript output and distill it;
- (on a Windows or Macintosh machine with appropriate tools installed) pass the output through a PDFwriter in place of a printer driver. This route is only appropriate for simple documents: PDF writers cannot create hyperlinks;
- process the document with “vanilla” LaTeX and generate PDF direct from the DVI using
To translate all the LaTeX cross-referencing into Acrobat
links, you need a LaTeX package to redefine
the internal commands. There are two of these for LaTeX, both
capable of conforming to the HyperTeX specification:
Heiko Oberdiek's hyperref, and Michael Mehlich's
hyper. (In practice, almost everyone uses
hyperref; hyper hasn't been updated since 2000.)
Hyperref can often determine how it should generate
hypertext from its environment, but there is a wide set of
configuration options you can give via
\usepackage. The package
can operate using pdfTeX primitives, the hyperTeX
\specials, or DVI driver-specific
dvips and Y&Y's
translate the DVI with these
\special commands into
PostScript acceptable to Distiller, and
\special commands of
If you use Plain TeX, the Eplain macros can
help you create PDF documents with hyper-references.
It can operate using pdfTeX primitives, or
dvipdfmx DVI drivers.
While there is no free implementation of all of Adobe Distiller's functionality, any but the implausibly old versions of Ghostscript provide pretty reliable distillation (but beware of the problems with “dvips” output for distillation).
For viewing (and printing) the resulting files, Adobe's
Acrobat Reader is available for a fair range of
platforms; for those for which Adobe's reader is unavailable, remotely
current versions of Ghostscript
gsview can display and
print PDF files, as can
In some circumstances, a
viewer application is actually preferable to Acrobat Reader. For example, on
Windows Acrobat Reader locks the
doesn't make the same mistake.