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From Many File Types, A Polished PDF Portfolio

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Learn how to create a dynamic presentation, called a portfolio, in Acrobat X Pro. Acrobat expert Brian Wood helps you understand how portfolios work, including answering questions like, “What is the difference between combining files and creating a portfolio?” and “Will it work in all versions of Reader?”
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Portfolios have been around in one form or another since version 8 of Acrobat. A PDF Portfolio contains multiple files assembled into an integrated PDF “wrapper.” Those files can be in a wide range of file types created in different applications. For example, a PDF Portfolio can include Word documents, e-mails, .PSD, images, and PowerPoint presentations. The original files retain their individual identities but are assembled into one PDF Portfolio file. You can open, read, edit, and format each component file independently of the other component files in the PDF Portfolio. You can also apply security to the entire portfolio, print documents, extract documents (if security allows), and much more with a portfolio. To me, it’s meant as a way to create a more dynamic presentation of related files and make it easier to send as one file.

In this article, I’d like to explore not only how to create them in Acrobat X Pro (not available in Standard), but things to think about before you go down that road. Things like, “What is the difference between combining files and creating a portfolio?” Or, “What happens when I create a portfolio in Acrobat X and someone opens that file in Reader/Acrobat 9 or other, earlier versions?” We’ll start by answering these two questions.

Portfolios Versus Combined Files

This is a question that I get a lot. As soon as users get into Acrobat and see that there are two main ways to combine files, they ask, “What’s the difference?” Well, the difference is pretty big. Combining files (File > Create > Combine Files into a Single PDF) is used to combine multiple PDF and native file formats. Those native file formats (such as Word) are converted to PDF and all of the pages are combined into one PDF.

A portfolio is an entirely different animal. As stated previously, a portfolio is a great way to combine a series of PDFs or native files in a PDF “wrapper” (a single PDF file) that maintains the format of the original files embedded in it (see Figure 1).

Figure 1 Portfolio versus combined files

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