Making PDF Porfolios With Adobe Acrobat Pro 9

One of the most exciting and fun-looking parts of the new Adobe® Acrobatâ„¢ Pro 9 is the ability to make slick-as-anything PDF Portfolios with a minimum of effort. After reviewing how to do it, I really wanted to make one of my own. Here’s how it all went down.

(If you want to get a look at the PDF Portfolio that results from all this play, go to this link at and click “Download”. It will require Acrobat Pro 9 to be viewed).

Starting It Off

Starting off the fun isn’t terribly difficult. All one needs to to is go to the File menu and select Create PDF Porfolio. A window opens with a large blank area on the left and a sidebar on the right. The instructions in the gray area are simple and direct … Drag Files Here. Do so. That’s all I had to do.

First, of course, I had to choose the kind of Portfolio I wanted to create. I’ve always been a fan of Apple’s “Cover Flow” model, and the “Revolve” option is kind of cover-flow-ish.

Then all I had to do was drag files in from the Finder, and it was off to the races.

I even added a Flash video file that I had converted from a QuickTime movie I’d done. It took no trouble at all.

Populating PDF Porfolio

Populating the PDF Portfolio is as simple as dragging your files into the interface from the folder.

A Cover To Judge The Book By

The tautology is worn rather shiny, but true nonetheless; first impressions mean so much. PDF Portfolios give you a special chance to make a first impression: you can have a custom splash page, or a Start Page.

This is kept simple as well. On the Edit PDF Portfolio sidebar, clicking on the Welcome and Header tab causes that part to spring open. You have options to customize the Welcome Page and add a header to it as you see fit. I decided to go without the header and just come up with a welcome message and background image. Clicking in the resizable text box I typed in a short, friendly welcome message, and resized it a bit. Clicking on the image box brought up a file-open dialogue where I could search my drive and find a graphic. The text can be styled and colored with basic styles and controls, and the size of the illustration can be quickly scaled up and down. The pertinent controls appear when the appropriate object is selected.

Since I like a big splash, I really scaled up the image. The text had to be colored black in order to stand out against it. It was quickly and simply done with the controls.

Acrobat 9 PDF Portfolio Start Page

Type text, import image, style, scale, adjust. All very simply done.

I can’t go past this without pointing out that you have a good number of options for customizing this. You can have text only, text and picture, even a flash movie … or no welcome page at all.

Now, from here you can add a similarly-customizable header, but I chose not to do that, as the design really doesn’t depend much on such a thing and it would have been a bit cluttered.

In the final PDF Portfolio, the page has a “Get Started” Button at the bottom which takes you on to the rest of the document. As I said, very slick indeed.

Coloring Your World

The default color on startup is the sort of usual gray that you find in Creative Suite’s Bridge and on the Adobe hosted web services such as It’s not a bad choice, but if you’re a designer, you’re rarely satisfied with complete default. I thought a blue would be proper choice.

Clicking on the Select A Color Scheme tab on the Edit sidebar springs open access to a modest palette of preset color schemes … and, of course, the option to create your own.

acrobat 9 palette

Not happy with the default color choices? Use one of Acrobat Pro 9’s suggestions – or customize your own.

After applying my choices and clicking the “home” button on the top to go back to the files display, I found I was very pleased with the dark blue which allowed the content to stand out in front.

Acobat 9 PDF Portfolio Blue

The color scheme … just what the designer ordered.

May We Take Your Order?

The last tab in the Edit sidebar, Specify File Details, gives the tools necessary to add descriptions, titles, view file information and compression information, and arrange the files the way you want them to be presented. It’s easy understand and easy to use.

Clicking any Description field enables you to enter a witty, succinct, compelling description. You can select which fields you want to include in the table in the sidebar, and generate new columns as well. You can of course sort the table in any order the columns provide.

Acrobat 9 PDF Portfolio List

Information and arranging … power at your fingertips in the penultimate step

Setting It Loose In The Wild

The last step, Publish is what seals the deal for your PDF Portfolio. The Publish step allows you to either create a PDF on your desktop, go direct to email with your Portfolio, or if it’s a large one, upload to Adobe’s hosted service at (you may have to create an Adobe ID for this, but that’s quick, easy, and integrated.

The PDF Portfolio functionality of Acrobat Pro 9 makes a lot of sense for those who are looking for a quick way to produce really good-looking PDF showcases. Sharing is easy, and assembling the Portfolio allows enough customization to make each one a unique piece. All anyone will need to view your PDF Portfolio is Reader 9, which should be available soon as a free download. Additionally, the PDF Portfolio interface is a full-featured one, including a search box that will search all documents, making it potentially a very powerful promotional and information delivery platform.

In extending the PDF into multimedia in this way, Adobe has given digital designers a wide range of powerful ways to exhibit their content and sell themselves. And it’s all very simple, indeed.