Providing certain documents in Adobe PDF format has many advantages. The format is open, available on almost every platform, widely-used and the Adobe Acrobat Reader is installed on most consumer and business computers (PCs, Macs, etc.).

Because the PDF format is also ideal for documents that are designed to be printed, PDFs offer a great way to distribute documents such as white papers and case studies.

Unfortunately, the “official” program for creating PDF documents, Adobe Acrobat, is priced out of the reach of some individuals and businesses, especially when all the bells and whistles Acrobat provides aren’t needed.

Fortunately, there are plenty of free and low-cost PDF software packages that put PDF creation and editing within the reach of those on a budget.

Elfima Notepad (Free)

Elfima Notepad is a simple text-editor that natively supports the output of documents in PDF format. It also enables users to edit PDF documents that were originally created with Elfima Notepad.

Free PDF Compressor and PDF Version Converter (Free)

Free PDF Compressor uses a variety of techniques to reduce the file size of PDF files beyond what the programs used to generate them may have been able to accomplish. PDF Version Converter converts PDF files from one PDF version to another for compatibility purposes.

The maker of Free PDF Compressor and PDF Version Converter also offers a paid program, Nice PDF Creator, which creates PDFs and integrates with Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint for one-click PDF exporting.

Go2PDF (Free)

Go2PDF enables the “printing” of PDF files from almost any Windows program.

Nitro PDF Professional

If you’re looking for a lot of the PDF creation and editing tools that Acrobat offers but can’t afford Acrobat, this software pacakge is well worth a look.

Nitro PDF Professional offers a considerable amount of functionality – from annotation to conversion and encryption to forms – all for a price that is quite easy on the bank account ($99).

PDFCreator (Free)

Like Go2PDF, PDFCreator lets you “print” PDF files from almost any program in Windows just as you would print to a physical printer.

PDF Text Reader (Free)

If you need to retrieve the content of a PDF as text, PDF Text Reader is your tool. This simple program reads the text from a PDF file and outputs it as unformatted text.

If you need to covert a PDF into formatted text, be sure to check out PDF to DOC, a paid program that coverts a PDF file into a Microsoft Word document.

Need something else? Be sure to check out Planet PDF, a website owned by the makers of Nitro PDF Professional which contains a searchable directory of PDF software.