Share Your Content With These WordPress To PDF Plugins
Providing PDF downloads of your WordPress posts can be an effective way for readers to engage with longer content and cut down on TL;DR (Too Long; Didn’t Read) click-aways.
In this article, we’ll cover the following:
- Why you should consider offering a PDF version of your content.
- The best free plugins you can use to convert WordPress posts into PDF files for your readers.
- Whether creating PDF versions of your posts manually is better than using plugins.
- How to create a PDF version of a WordPress post manually.
- Other ways to use PDF files with WordPress.
Why Offer A PDF Version Of Your Content?
Too much content, so little time, or so we are told. Or perhaps it’s merely a case of shortening attention spans.
Whatever the reason, longer content requires a greater investment of time and if your visitor decides that he or she can’t make that investment now, then away they click. While your content has clicked up a page view on your stats, there’s no productive time-on-site and no real engagement.
While there are no guarantees that visitors will engage with your content, providing the same content in a digestible format better suited to reading later, be it via a PDF stored in Apple Books, your Facebook Business Page, or even – and I’m getting all retro here – printed off, might just cut down the incidence of TL;DR.
Additionally, as we’ve covered in another post, you can use free PDF downloads to grow your mailing list. Allowing users to download and share your content via PDFs can be a powerful lead magnet and web traffic generation method, especially if your content has the potential to go viral.
Using Plugins To Convert WordPress Posts Into PDF Files
If the idea of manually creating PDFs is too much – perhaps justifiable if you have a lot of content – then PDF plugins can help. Below is a list of plugins that will automatically create PDFs from your posts.
As is often the way, however, none are perfect, so to test each of the plugins, I’ve created a dummy post with the following:
- The latest version of WordPress at the time of writing (v. 5.3.2),
- The Gutenberg Editor using blocks like ‘Pullquote’ and ‘Media and Text’ to enhance the layout of the post
- 4 x Free WordPress themes to see how the plugins work with different themes and theme features (e.g. featured images):
Let’s see how these posts look when converted into PDF files using the plugins below.
PDF & Print lets you create enhanced print and PDF versions of your posts and add PDF & print buttons to pages, posts, and widgets.
The free version of the plugin is feature-rich. It lets you automatically add PDF & Print buttons to various post types, select the position of buttons in your content, add buttons to widget areas and via a shortcode, set the button type, change button action (e.g. download or open PDF in a new window), display buttons only for certain user roles, add a title and featured image to the document with a custom featured image size, specify image alignment, set PDF document size and custom margins, generate documents with custom styles, select the stylesheet to use, choose whether to provide links on archive pages and more.
The Pro version gives you access to advanced features, such as letting you add a text or image watermark, prevent copying of PDF file content, create custom document header and footer templates, compatibility with Advanced Custom Fields and WooCommerce, ability to set PDF layout and custom images for buttons, disable PDF & Print buttons for certain pages and/or post types, change the default PDF file name, and even prevent search engines from indexing links in your documents.
The plugin is also RTL ready and includes detailed documentation and tutorials.
Plugin Test Results With Dummy Posts
After installing the plugin and configuring some basic settings, here’s how the PDF & Print plugin converted our dummy post using different themes:
- Elemental theme – Click here to view PDF
- Neve theme – Click here to view PDF
- Nikkon theme – Click here to view PDF
- Spacious theme – Click here to view PDF
Note: At first, the output in the preview looked broken, but after playing with the settings a little, I was able to get the PDFs to look like the output you will see if you click on the above links, so tweak and experiment with the settings if you need to adjust your PDF output.
Print, PDF, Email is another plugin that addresses both the print format (and email) and provides a PDF version.
Although this plugin doesn’t have as many configurable options as the previous plugin, you can choose different button styles, set the position of buttons in your posts, select which post types to display buttons on, add buttons directly to templates using a snippet of code, and insert buttons anywhere in your content using a shortcode.
You can also configure print and preview options in the settings area. For example, a nice feature of this plugin is that you can enable a function that lets you click on sections that you don’t want included in your PDF before downloading the file and these will be removed from the final output. You can also specify the style and size of images to be included in your PDFs or disable images from displaying altogether and even include invisible copyright information that won’t display on your website but will be added to printed pages.
The Pro version of the plugin is GDPR compliant, eliminates ads from displaying while previews are being generated, renders previews up to 3x faster, displays previews directly on your website pages, can be used behind secure eCommerce pages and paywalls, and works with dynamic content generated by Angular/React applications.
Plugin Test Results With Dummy Posts
Unlike the previous plugin which creates a PDF ‘snapshot’ of the entire post, Printfriendly seems to extract only the content from the post and ignore the theme elements around it. As a result, all of the PDFs generated using our dummy post below look identical, despite using different themes:
Manual PDF Generation – The Pros And Cons
Probably the only downside to creating a PDF from a WordPress post or page manually is that it involves more effort on your part. The pros are that it does have considerable benefits:
- You can have properly formatted content and complete control over areas such as image alignment, fonts, etc.
- You decide where to place page breaks.
- You can add additional elements such as watermarks, add hotspots, etc.
- You can insert additional content or remove unnecessary sections.
- You can choose which content should have a PDF download.
Creating a PDF is easy. Virtually all major word processing apps, from Word to Pages to Google Docs, will let you create finely formatted documents that can be exported as PDF. If you don’t know where to start, here’s a tutorial on how to create a PDF file using different platforms.
Once you have created a PDF file, assigning it to a post only takes a couple of steps:
1. In the Admin interface for your site, go to Media > Add New and upload the PDF.
2. In the Media Library table list, you’ll see your newly uploaded file. Files uploaded directly to the Media library are unattached. Click on Attach under the ‘Uploaded to’ column.
3. Select the appropriate post (you can also search if you don’t see your post) and click on Select at the bottom of the dialog.
When you go back to the listing you’ll see that your PDF is now attached to the post you’ve selected.
But what about displaying a link to download the file?
Automatically Displaying A Link To The Manual PDF
We can do this really easily by using the the_content filter to add a link to any PDF that is attached to the post:
I’ve written this as a plugin (download it, save it as a zipped file and upload it to your site) but you could also, if you prefer, just copy the code to your theme’s functions.php.
Manually Adding A Download Link To The PDF
If you don’t want to edit code, you can insert a link or button into your content inviting users to download your post as a PDF:
Other PDF’ing Uses For WordPress
Converting WordPress posts into PDFs isn’t all you can do with PDF plugins. Here are some other things you can do with PDFs in WordPress:
Upload And Embed PDFs To WordPress
Integrate PDFs With Your Business Processes
Plugins like E2PDF let you create and edit new and existing PDF documents and forms directly from WordPress, merge and export data from WordPress posts, pages, and web forms into PDF documents, and allows visitors to view static or dynamic PDF documents in WordPress.
If you run a web development company, digital marketing agency, or just manage sites on behalf of clients as a freelancer and are a WPMU DEV member, you can easily generate and send your clients elegant white label PDF reports quickly, easily, and automatically from The Hub.
Convert PDF To WordPress
We’ve looked at plugins that convert WordPress to PDF but you can also easily go the other way too! Plugins like PDF2Post allow you to convert content from PDFs into WordPress posts.
As you can see, there are some great PDF plugins available for WordPress if you just take the time to search online. If you want to save time, however, I recommend subscribing to our newsletter at the bottom of this page. We’ll do the PDF’ing research for you and let you know about all the great and wonderful things you can do with WordPress.