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I have a piece of software that currently packages an MS Word file as the user guide/help. I would like to make this into either a PDF or a CHM file.

I do not wish to re-write the help or user guide.

I did not find anything that is exactly what I need. I don't want to pay for it (I'd rather continue with Word) and I want to just be able to edit in MS Word and then convert when I am done.

Releasing the HTML output of doing "save as html" is not an option – I need just one file.

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If you're using Word 2007, then download the Microsoft add-in that allows you to export to PDF and XPS files.

If using an earlier version of Word, then I'd recommend PDFCreator - an open source printer driver for Windows. It gives you a printer that saves as PDF files, and works with any application. Works great, I've used it for years.

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If you absolutely have to keep only one file then I would go with PDF, since it's pretty ubiquitous at this point. I can't remember the last time I was on a system that couldn't open a PDF. Actually, I can, but that's beside the point.

One other option is to just keep it as a Word document. Most people using Windows have Word installed, and users on Mac and Linux will probably know how to convert the file to something they can read (if it's even necessary to convert it).

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Print to pdf. Google "free pdf convert" for free virtual printer drivers for Windows that generate pdf; some are smart enough to convert MS Word formats like headings and TOC.

On Mac OS X, anything that can be printed can be converted to PDF from the standard print dialog.

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  • I tried that - I must have gotten one that doesn't work. I ended up with an xps file... not what i expected.
    – tim
    Nov 16 '08 at 5:08
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The addin from Microsoft to save as PDF in Word 2007 is here:

http://www.microsoft.com/downloads/details.aspx?FamilyId=4D951911-3E7E-4AE6-B059-A2E79ED87041&displaylang=en

Also, you could choose to save as *.mhtml (single file web archive images & all in one file. Opens in IE.)

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Or try out Universal Document Converter
Edit: A simple google search throws up this - a direct word to chm converter, as one of the links.

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  • the chm converter is, alas, not free...
    – tim
    Nov 17 '08 at 2:45
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You could try exporting to the RTF or rich text format. RTF is able to be read by computer loaded with Windows, OSX, or Linux with Gnome or KDE installed.

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  • I should have also stated one of the reasons I wanted pdf or chm is that they can't be modified by users. Well - at least not simply like msword.
    – tim
    Dec 4 '08 at 22:37
  • In that case just generate a PDF.
    – epochwolf
    Dec 5 '08 at 15:36
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I am going to go with PDF and this solution as I can call it from the command line during my build. I will maintain a Word doc in my version control system and make it a pdf as part of a release.

http://www.oooforum.org/forum/viewtopic.phtml?t=3772&highlight=pdf+form

or

http://www.suodenjoki.dk/us/productions/articles/word2pdf.htm

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Try CHMTemplate at http://helptemplate.com. This is an add-in for Microsoft Word which performs Word-to-CHM conversion. Light Version is free.

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