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Grant Management

Converting Your Documents to PDFs

NEH requires that applicants submit their attachments to as portable document format (.pdf).

PDF is a standard format for sharing data, and it is possible to convert many common file formats (Microsoft Word, Corel WordPerfect, etc.) to PDF using a wide variety of PDF-generators, sometimes called distillers. PDF conversion is also built into Microsoft Office 2007. Some third-party PDF converters are free, many are quite inexpensive—and some are better than others. (See list of PDF generators below.) If you use one of these applications, be sure to test the results—ensure that you and others can open and view the resulting PDF files using the free Adobe Reader software.

If you scan something to create a PDF file, avoid scanning it at a high resolution. Typically, NEH applications are read online by reviewers and panelists, so an image scanned at 100 dpi (dots or pixels per inch) will display very clearly on a computer monitor. An image scanned at higher resolution (300+ dpi) will result in a very large file, and it will usually not result in a better-quality display when viewed on a monitor. Large files can also cause problems with viewing or downloading your application. If your image must be seen at very high resolution, consider posting it to a website and embedding a link to it in a PDF file.

If you scan text—e.g. a letter or résumé or curriculum vitae—do not scan it as an image, even a relatively low-resolution image. Text should be scanned as text, using an optical character recognition (OCR) application. Scanning text with OCR software allows you to edit the text after it has been scanned, and allows you (and those reading your application) to search for text within the document. Neither of these things can be done if you scan the text and save it as an image.

If you need to include large media files in your application—high-resolution images, video or sound files, or splashy multi-color reports—you should consider embedding links to these resources in your PDF files rather than including them in your application.

When creating PDFs, do not create PDF files that can only be read with the most recent version(s) of the free Acrobat Reader. The better PDF-generators allow you to specify which PDF version to produce. We recommend that you specify that your PDFs should be read by Acrobat Reader 6.x and higher (PDF standard 1.5). This will ensure that your files can be viewed by older versions of Acrobat Reader. (Note: The newest version is Adobe Reader 9.3.3.)

Do not include any security or encryption in your PDF files. Make sure that the files are not read-only and that they are not password-protected.

Do not include attachments within your PDF files.


Below is a sampling of some of the PDF generators on the market, many of which are free or very low-cost. Please consult vendor websites for additional information. NEH does not endorse any particular software. The websites are listed in alphabetical order.

Print driver that will work with any application. For PC or Mac.

Blue Squirrel
Print driver that will work with any application. For PC.

Create Adobe PDF Online
Web-based converter. Can be used by PC or Mac. Vendor e-mails PDF back to you.

Print driver that will work with any application. For PC.

Microsoft Office 2007 Save as PDF
Add-on for Microsoft Office allows you to export and save to the PDF format in eight Microsoft Office 2007 programs. (Note: Microsoft Office 2010 includes this feature.)

Print driver that will work with any application. For PC.

Print driver that will work with any application. For PC.

Wondersoft Virtual PDF Printer
Print driver that will work with any application. For PC.

Zeon Corporation
Print driver that will work with any application. For PC.