PDF files are a great way to distribute printable documents online if you are not using Drupal. Here is a way you can produce PDF files without spending hundreds of dollars on Adobe software.
Ghostscript is a useful free way to produce PDF files from Microsoft Word and other documents.
For Windows 2000, my test machine, install the latest Ghostscript. I installed gs851w32.exe, which is AFPL Ghostscript 8.51 for Win32 and is 10.4 megabytes, or 5 seconds download on my broadband connection.
After the installation you will have c:\Program Files\gs\gs8.51\lib\ghostpdf.inf. Create a new printer and use ghostpdf.inf as the driver. Name the new printer Ghostscript PDF. You can then print from any program to Ghostscript PDF and convert the result to PDF using Ghostscript.
Some day the ghostpdf driver will be expanded to complete the PDF creation in one step like all the competing commercial products.
You then install GSView. I used gsv47w32.exe from the same Web site.
When you print using Ghostscript PDF, you create an output file with a suffix of prn supplied automatically by Windows. Rename your .prn file to .ps. The ps stands for Postscript. PDF is a modified Postscript file.
Doubleclick the .ps file. GSView should then open the .ps file and show you the output the way it will look in a PDF. In GSView click File then Convert. The screen should show the output device as pdfwrite and the resolution as 600 dpi. You can then click OK to output the PDF.
The PDF will work on all normal computers with Adobe's Acrobat Reader. Some Macs will display rubbish. I do not know why Macs do not use the normal Adobe Acrobat Reader. You will not be able to talk Mac users in to updating their software or adopting standard software so, if any of your customers use Macs, give up on Ghostscript and buy a commercial product that will do whatever special thing is needed for Macs.
The output from OpenOffice works on some of the Macs that fail to work with the Ghostscript output. You can open some non OpenOffice documents in OpenOffice but some of your formatting may change. I have converted hundreds of Word documents to OpenOffice and have not had a success with documents using more than a minimal range of text formatting.
PDF Writer Pro
PDF Writer Pro is one of the commercial alternatives for Windows and is worth considering if you produce PDFs from applications other than word processing.
Drupal has an add on print module that can create plain printing or a PDF version of a Web page. You can create your content as a Web page then let the user decide to print the page or access the page as a PDF. Drupal access control lets you control access to the page for those occasions when you want only some people to print the page.
Try Ghostscript PDF as your zero cost option for producing PDFs from software other than OpenOffice.