Problem: I recently had trouble getting a good PDF from a 200,000-word book. NitroPDF failed repeatedly, being very sluggish and crashing the Windows Print Spooler. And the type quality of a vanilla “Save to PDF” just was not good enough, and also randomly defaulted bits of text to bitmapping. Which messed up back-of-the-book index-building, as well as copy-paste.

Solution: the free Ghostscript Windows installer and the free CutePDF Writer (which requires Ghostscript). Install the open-source Ghostscript utility first, then CutePDF, so you don’t have any hassles caused by CutePDF’s installer needing to go online to get Ghostscript. No reboot is then required, the new printer driver is there straight away, and accessible from File | Print.

Lovely output… very fast (even though 32-bit)… great file-size… but… you then need to know how to get a 6″ x 9″ shaped save for the PDF. 6″ x 9″ inches is a most common paperback book size demanded by print-on-demand printers. And yet perversely it has no named paper-size that ships with printer software by default, for local Windows PDF printers to use. Getting 6″ x 9″ for CutePDF thus requires a bit of a workflow.

Workflow:

1. Windows Start Menu button | Control Panel | Devices and Printers.

2. Select the new CutePDF printer | Print Server Properties | Then set up and save a new 6″ x 9″ form, thus…

Yes it’s a gnarly setup, but you only have to do it once.

3. File | Print | CutePDF | Properties | Advanced | Set your newly created 6″ x 9″ setting | Also embed the fonts by switching to “Softfont”. For POD you may also want to set Postcript Options | Font Download | Native Truetype. OK.

4. Now you’re back in that initial CutePDF Print panel. Here there’s a further vital step. “Scale to Paper Size” | Then drag the drop-down list all the way down to the bottom | Just above the new “Postscript Custom” you see the even newer 6″ x 9″ setting | Select that.

5. OK. That should be it. Both 6″ x 9″ settings are live and aligned, and you should thus get a printed-to-file PDF that matches your 6″ x 9″ Word .DOC file.

To check the fonts embedded, have Acrobat (Reader or DC) open your PDF file. Go to File | Properties | Fonts tab. You’ll see the embedded fonts. Then check the selectability of the text, to see if anything went to bitmaps.

The only thing missing with the free CutePDF Writer is 40-bit encryption to prevent copy-paste or modification. Also, it has problems with handling semi-transparency from Microsoft Publisher.