THINGS TECHNICAL

Home | Authors/Texts | Upcoming | Links | Contact

How I Make PDF Files:

I use an HP 5200 color scanner, Adobe Photoshop 5.5 as my image editor, and ABBYY FineReader 5 for optical character recognition (OCR). Once the pages of a Victorian-era book or essay have been scanned as a "text region," it is not difficult to edit out the effects of age (foxing, etc.) from the resulting image file. Once that has been done, I use ABBYY FineReader 5 to recognize the image as text, with the option of retaining the original's full formatting information, and insert that text into Microsoft Word, where I at once run a "post-scan" macro to eliminate minor formatting problems. (This requires no programming--MS Word offers a "record new macro" feature that allows one to record and repeat a series of formatting actions.) From that point on, I make some minor formatting adjustments as needed, and do the proofreading. When the text is done, I use a macro inserted by Adobe Acrobat 5 to transform the Word document into a PDF file, which I can then examine in Acrobat, setting permissions and digitally signing the document, among other things. Finally, I use WinZip 8.1 (along with a small companion program ) to generate a zipped self-extracting file that the viewer may download and open without any special software.

A Note on PDF (Portable Document Format, by Adobe): After having worked with PDF file creation, I have decided to use this format as the first choice for all texts I post. Adobe's PDF format allows an editor to post near-facsimile editions that are fully searchable and relatively compact in size. On-screen text size can be adjusted easily to suit the viewer's preference, which is a big advantage for those with less than perfect vision. Complex typefaces such as accentuated Greek can simply be embedded in the document itself, obviating the need for extra work on the editor's part and eliminating the need for the viewer to install the Greek font. Best of all, perhaps, a PDF text can be made to resemble an original, authoritative edition to a really impressive degree. The minor responsibility on the viewer's part of downloading and installing Adobe's freeware Acrobat Reader is more than repaid by the ease of reading and scholarly advantages offered by PDF.

Macintosh information credit: My thanks to Dr. Johannes Pignatti of Università di Roma for his advice on how to convert DOS/Windows text files to read smoothly on a Macintosh platform.