The goal was to create a way documents could be read by any computer and, for the most part, it’s worked. For a long long time you had to buy Adobe Acrobat to turn your Word docs into a .pdf. It was expensive. Then Adobe offered online conversion – several for free and after that, as I recall, they began to charge.
I’m not sure when it became possible to get cheaper programs than Acrobat to do the conversion. And shortly after that free conversion programs began to be developed and distributed. Of course if you’re writing on a Mac you don’t have to worry about this – it’s already built in.
I actually purchased one of the early versions of Acrobat and used it for years. I probably should have kept it so I could auction it on ebay as an antique.
Today I use PrimoPDF. I find the free version more than I need, but their paid version, which costs less than $1oo, (significantly less than half of what Adobe charges for their ‘standard’ version) includes forms that can be filled out and other wiz-bang features.
It’s easy to do – you simply “print” to PrimoPDF instead of your usual printer and you’re set.
By the way, I no longer use Adobe Reader. I use Foxit’s free viewer. They also have a pdf creator, but it’s not free.
Your list of writing credits and copies of articles you want to use as clips or tear sheets are good suspects for conversion. Keep in mind, however, that if you’re responding to ads, many state they won’t accept email with attachments. PDFs are just one more tool
How do you use PDFs?