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Portable Document Format (PDF)


 

What is a PDF file?


PDF stands for portable document format. The PDF file format was created by Adobe in 1993 and is one of the most common formats used today. A PDF file is a read-only document that preserves its original layout, preventing modification but allowing users to easily share and print the file.


PDFs may contain text, hyperlinks, buttons, video, images, audio and form fields, and can be encrypted so that a password is needed to view it. If you've ever downloaded a web form, press release, or another type of detailed document, chances are you've already used a PDF file.



Why use a PDF?


There are many advantages to using a PDF. When sharing a document created on a program like Microsoft Word, there’s no guarantee that the receiver will be able to open it unless they’re using the exact same program. Furthermore, a program like Microsoft Word allows the recipient to edit the document, which means the sender risks having the format of the document altered.


Using a PDF has two benefits which present a solution to these obstacles. First, someone who receives a PDF file can open it on any program. In other words, they don’t need to have the app used to create the file in order to view it.


The second benefit of using a PDF is that it preserves the document’s formatting and will look the same on any device. Receivers of the PDF cannot edit the file unless it is a form, or if they have access to Adobe Acrobat or other apps that provide this feature.


These advantages make PDFs more shareable than other file formats and ensure that viewers see the document as intended.


 

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JPEG

SVG

PNG

Vector Art


 


How to view a PDF file


A PDF is generally sent via email attachment, uploaded to a shared drive or linked onto a web page, or when making a website. Since PDF files embody a standardized format they can be opened and viewed across a variety of applications. These include web browsers, Adobe Acrobat, third-party apps and word processors.


When receiving a PDF, you can open and view it in two ways. It can be opened directly in your web browser, which is the best solution if you only need to view the file once. On top of that, you can download the file and save it to your computer, which is the best option if you need to keep the file or want to view it later.



How to create a PDF file


You can turn just about any document into a PDF. This includes word documents, excel sheets, web pages and images. This can be done directly using Adobe Acrobat or by converting a file to PDF format on your computer.


To start, select File at the top of your document. Then, you can select either Export, Download, Print or Save As to save the document as a PDF. Depending on the system, this conversion feature might be found in different locations, - but it is available across Microsoft Office, Google Drive and other programs on both Mac and Windows.


You can also turn a webpage into a PDF on apps like Chrome, which have a “view PDF” option in the print section.


A third option is to use an online PDF converter application, which can instantly convert various file types into a downloadable PDF format.



How to edit a PDF file


PDF files are primarily used for viewing and not editing, so a standard PDF will not allow the viewer to edit. However, there are times when you’ll come across a PDF that is intended to be edited, such as a form. Forms include a special feature called form field which allows the user to type new information into the document and save the changes. It is also possible to electronically sign a PDF. This comes in handy when dealing with contracts and other legal or government documents.


Besides that, one can fully edit a PDF file using Adobe Acrobat software. The software even allows users to convert PDF files into editable Word, Excel or PPT files. While this option boasts the best features for editing a PDF, the downside is that it can be pricey. There are also free online tools that will allow for simple PDF editing, but users must examine the options to find ones that provide decent features and have no hidden costs.


Related Term

Accessibility 

Related Term

Business-to-Business (B2B)

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