Portable Document Format (PDF) created by Adobe® is a widely used electronic distribution document format for the Worldwide Web. PDF files are designed to preserve all fonts, formatting, graphics, and color of any document type, regardless of application or platform (differences in OS). The files are intended to be shared, viewed, navigated, and printed to anyone with Adobe Acrobat® Reader® software.
Advantages of using PDF:
- Cross Platform: Document can be created in Windows, read on a Macintosh, and downloaded from a Unix server.
- Navigational: Under the PDF format, documents can have internal and external links, bookmarks, thumbnail of each page, article threads, form fields, etc. It can be magnified or reduced to fit any computer screen.
- Printability: Prints sharp, color-precise documents on all different types of printers.
- Viewable: Displays precise color matching of a document and can zoom up to 800% without losing quality.
- Small file size: Converting documents to PDF format can reduce an original file size by more than 50%
- PDF documents can be made compatible with screen reader software to accommodate Web Accessibility needs. For more information on this topic, see the "Adobe Acrobat (PDF)" section under Other Technologies in the Web Accessibility section of this site.
Tips for using PDF:
- Use PDF only for documents that users will most often print out (e.g. forms, large reports with extensive graphics).
- Indicate in the link title that the linked document is a PDF.
- Don't use PDF as a shortcut substitute for creating an HTML Web page. Usability studies indicate that PDFs are more difficult to browse online than are HTML base Web pages. Create the Web page if feasible.
- Be careful when using the latest and greatest features in the most recent version of Adobe Acrobat; not all of your users will have the most up to date Reader software and may have trouble viewing your document.
- Try to stick with common fonts when producing a document for PDF output.
- Ensure that you embed into your PDF document all non-standard fonts (those that are not common across all computer platforms) to ensure that your users will see the PDF the way you meant it to be seen.