This morning I got an email from a buddy just venturing into ebook publishing, that was confused about the roles of Acrobat and Distiller. His questions reminded me of my own start with Acrobat, and I thought my answers could help a few others.
First the basics. Adobe Acrobat only reads PDF files. It does not create PDF files, nor can it be used to create content of any kind. It simply reads PDF files, and allows for very basic editing, such as creating hyperlinks and setting document security settings.
Distiller is a print driver that outputs PDF fies. It is not a reader, nor an application used to create any content.
If you have the full version of Adobe Acrobat (not just Acrobat Reader) you create your content in a content-creation application such as Word, Photoshop or Word Perfect. Then print to Distiller (some applications have a more integrated Distiller interface, but all allow you to print) and save the resulting PDF.
Next open the PDF in Acrobat and do your final touches such as:
1) create hyperlinks (see Tools/Locate Web Addresses)
2) create title and author (see File/Document Properties)
3) set your desired security level (see File/Document Security)
4) File SAVE AS whatever.pdf. It is important not to just SAVE but to use SAVE AS because this eliminates unused fonts and makes a smaller PDF.
Another important decision is whether to embed fonts in your PDF, or use the fonts on the reader’s system. Embedding fonts makes a bigger PDF file, but guarantees that your reader will see the exact page layout you designed. I do both, depending on whether I value a small download size or visual consistency for that particular ebook. If you do not embed fonts, be sure to only use very common fonts such as Times Roman or Arial.
The decision about embedding fonts is not made in Acrobat. It is made in Distiller. Look for these Distiller settings in your content-creation application: Printer/Preferences/Adobe PDF Settings/General Conversion Settings.
Does this help? Let me know.