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.

9 thoughts on “Making PDF Porfolios With Adobe Acrobat Pro 9”

  1. I attended my local InDesign User Group meeting last night and Lynn Grillo demonstrated Acrobat 9 Pro for the crowd. Two questions came up:

    (1) Can you change PDF Portfolio compression settings?

    If you look at the file detail listing, you’ll see that PDF Portfolios automatically compress your files to make the portfolio smaller. AFAIK, there is no way to change or remove the compression. There’s no settings in the preferences and the PDF Optimizer is grayed out. However, if you are adding PDF files to your PDF Portfolio, you can always use the PDF Optimizer on those ahead of time and tweak their file size beforehand.

    (2) Can you open a file in the PDF Portfolio, revise it and save it, and retain the revised file in the portfolio?

    Yes, you can do this. If you think of the PDF Portfolio as a shell that holds other files, similar to Photoshop’s Smart Objects feature, it makes a lot of sense. I tossed an InDesign document and other files in a PDF Portfolio, then I opened the InDesign file, revised it and saved it. According to the Open Recent menu, this file was residing in a temp folder on my hard drive at the time. After I saved the InDesign file, Acrobat 9 Pro showed the PDF Portfolio was revised as well. I saved and closed everything and then reopened the portfolio, and the InDesign file retained the revisions.

  2. I stubled across your website whilst searching for information about PDFs. I noticed your site layout is broken in Firefox 3.0.3 on Windows XP. This is probably due to a style sheet float/margin conflict. I hope you don’t mind but I thought it might be helpful to let you know.

  3. Thanks for letting us know, but we are aware of it. It’s been a problem since FF 2. Unfortunately no one–including the FF community forums and devs–can figure out a solution . The float issue ONLY happens when there is Google Adsense code in the right column; otherwise, the layout works. It also works if you view the site with FF’s dev tools turned on.

    I’ve tried everything short of going back to tables (ugh!) to fix this, but am definitely open to suggestions. You can reach me directly at publisher @ this domain name.

  4. Hi, thank you for this info… it is great!

    I am creating a pdf portfolio using the revolve layout.

    Quick question, is there a way to either hide the “Name” of the document so it doesn’t appear on the small polaroid at all or at least hide the file extension (so it doesn’t display “filename.JPG)? I would like the portfolio to list the name of the design, but there is no need for the “.JPG” and it looks a little out of place.

    Also, I want a description for each design. I can add the description just fine, however is there a way to center the description with the image? On my portfolio, the Name.JPG is centered and the Description is left-aligned, so it looks a little off.

    This is a great addition to Adobe Acrobat, but hopefully Adobe included some options so us designers or photographers can customize this viewable text on the Revolve layout to make it look more professional, as a portfolio should be.


  5. As you are being helpful to us passing by, I thought I would try to return the favor. I reviewed your code for the site to determine your layout issues. There are a few in there, but to keep things as simple as possible. If you put inline styles on the “Guts” and “Content” divs as follows:
    style=”display:Block; float:left; width:620px;”>
    and move the “colRight” section up to approximately line 762 (just below the 3 closing divs) your layout should function properly.

    It’s been roughly tested in IE, Firefox, Chrome, Safari and Opera on the PC. Results may vary on a Mac.

    Hope this helps

  6. Hi There,

    I would like to know if there is any way to set the pdf portfolio up so that there are no cards in the document and only the images that have been imported so that it resembles an itunes library with the image having a reflection and not the card?
    If not is there any way that I can customize a pdf portfolio to do so?
    Any help would be greatly appreciated!

    Thank You

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