Tutorial: How to Make a Document Preview

Presentation is an extremely important part of selling. Today I'm going to show you how I make my document preview graphics that I use in my Ravelry store to showcase the PDF files that I am selling. Below is an example of the kind of preview graphic that I mean. In the example, it is featured as the first photo, when in actuality, it is listed last on the pattern page. I moved the photo up to the first slot in order to get a good screenshot for you.

They aren't necessary, but they give a good 'at a glance' snapshot to users of what they can expect from their purchase. I know there are probably better ways to do this, but I don't have or use Photoshop, so I'm working with the tools I have. 

Tools you will need for this tutorial: 

  • Microsoft Word
  • Adobe Acrobat Reader
  • Snipping Tool (optional)

1. Open the PDF you want to make a preview of in Adobe Acrobat Reader. This step will create the page thumbnails you will use for your preview.

"File" >> "Save As Other..." >> "Image" >> "PNG" or "JPEG" (I prefer PNG.)

Choose the destination on your computer where you want the files to save, preferably in the same folder where the PDF is located.

2. Open a New Document in Microsoft Word. 

3. Adjust the orientation and add a grid.

You don't necessarily have to set the orientation to landscape, but I prefer it so that I have more room to work with.

Selecting 'gridlines' is very important because it allows your thumbnails to have something to snap to, and it helps you line them up equidistant apart. 

4. Insert each thumbnail and adjust the properties and placement. 

Find the file location where you saved the thumbnail and insert the very first one. You will complete step 4 working with each thumbnail one-at-a-time. So complete all the sub-steps in step 4 on the first thumbnail before inserting the second one and so forth. 

After you have inserted the image, adjust the size as shown below--change the height to 3.5" by typing it in the box.

Add a drop shadow for the 3D effect. 

Adjust text wrapping so the thumbnail can be manipulated into position. Select "in front of text."

Position the first thumbnail in the top-left of the grid. Position all subsequent thumbnails 3x3 squares down-right from the previous one. 

Select "send to back" for every thumbnail except the first one. 

Finish step 4 for each thumbnail before progressing to the next step.

5. Choose a page color for your background.

6. Remove gridlines and take a snapshot.

To remove the gridlines, see step 3. Simply uncheck the box you checked during step 3. To take a snapshot, you have several choices but I will go over two of them. 

If you have the Snipping Tool (part of Microsoft Windows). Open the Snipping Tool and adjust the delay time to 1 second. The reason this is important is because it allows you to take a snapshot during the interval when the cursor is blinking and it will be hidden from the snapshot. 

When you are ready, select "New" which will they gray-out your entire screen. Simply take your cursor and begin at the Top-Left of where you want the graphic to start (I usually begin 1-inch above and to the left of the first thumbnail), and then while holding the cursor button down, drag it along to the Bottom-Right to the same placement below and next to your last thumbnail. Then let go. A new window should pop up with your final preview graphic. Make sure you select "save" and save it to a location you will remember--preferably to same directory you saved everything else. 

If you don't have the Snipping Tool. Simply move all other windows and programs out of your way while you have your document open. Then press "Print Screen" on your keyboard. This is located at the top of your keyboard directly above the left arrow key... usually. It's around there somewhere. 

Next, open a graphics program like Paint or Paint.Net. Then paste your screenshot that you just took into the graphics program. You can simply use the keyboard shortcut CTRL+V or go to Edit >> Paste. 

You should then see your entire screen pasted into the program. Use the selection tool or the cropping tool to adjust the portion of the screenshot that you want to save, and then save the file to the appropriate location. 

Voila! 

What you should now have is a lovely preview snapshot you can use to showcase your PDF.