Embedding a PDF

PDFs can be embedded into a number of documents and files, as well as into web pages.  For example, embedding a PDF into a Word document, into a PowerPoint presentation or into a website can be achieved relatively simply.  Websites today consist of more than just text and images; different types of content, such as PDFs and videos, are considered a standard part of a comprehensive website.

Embedding a PDF into a Word document

There are three ways of embedding, or linking, a PDF file to a Word document.  It can be embedded as a PDF object but it will not be the actual PDF document that’s inserted, it will be an image of the first page which is the link to the PDF file and a hidden part of the Word file.  It must also be noted that the size of the PDF increases the size of the Word document.

Embedding a PDF

Alternatively you can embed the PDF as an icon into the Word document but again, this is not the file, only an image link and it will increase the size of the Word document.

The other option is to insert a link to an external PDF.  Whilst you are not embedding the actual PDF, or an image of it, you are linking a PDF file.  This method won’t increase the size of the Word document, but if you are going to share the Word document, you will need to send the PDF file as well.

Inserting or embedding PDFs into an Excel spreadsheet uses the same method as inserting an object.  However once embedded, as with images, you will not be able to edit the PDF.   With a PowerPoint presentation, you can insert the PDF or embed a link to the PDF either as an ‘image’ of the first page of the PDF, or as a link.

Embedding a PDF into a web page

Using a .pdf formatted file, you can embed PDF files into web pages for showing an ebook, for example, or a long document.  One of the simplest forms of ‘embedding’ a file is to link to a PDF file.  It’s a straight-forward process of linking, similar to linking to another web page.  To add an HTML link to a PDF document, the following format should be used:

<a href+”/(add file name)</a>

This creates a link that opens up in a PDF reader when clicked by the viewer, or they’re asked to download the PDF file if they don’t have a PDF reader.  Alternatively, if you wish the viewer to be able to read the PDF document without a PDF reader, embed the PDF using a software solution, such as Google Docs.

There are solutions available, like PDFObject, which are open source applications and can be used to embed PDF files into HTML documents.  Essentially, PDFObject creates a container in which to hold your PDF.  Using PDFObject, you then select the PDF file you wish to embed and instruct where you want it to be embedded.   There are extra options to select dimensions, margins, borders and styling.  It is not always necessary to use JavaScript for embedding PDFs into web pages; Google Docs and Zoho Docs Viewer are other solutions that can help you to embed PDFs without using JavaScript.

To make the embedding of PDFs easier, you can convert your PDF into the HTML format.  There are a number of online converters, some of which are free, that can help you do this including PDF Online, Zamzar, Convert PDF to HTML, PDF Aid, PDF to HTML and PDF Convert Online.

Embedding  a PDF in a website using HTML

Using HTML allows you to embed and show PDF files directly on your web pages, rather than the viewer having to download the PDF or link to that file.  The key to embedding a PDF using HTML is keeping it to a simple HTML code:

<embed src=”(add URL/file name of pdf.pdf)” width=”550” height=”750”></embed>

This code is then inserted in to your web page, and you can adjust the width and height according to your requriements.

PDF Editing – Can it be Done?

The very nature of PDFs, i.e. that it is an electronic copy of the original, implies that the PDF is not for editing and essentially you are not able to edit the original content; you will need to convert the PDF back to its original format, such as a Word document, make the changes and re-convert to a PDF.  However, it is possible to edit a PDF but there are limitations.  There are a range of PDF tools and software packages that will allow the reviewing, annotation and ‘editing’ of documents.

Using a free PDF editing tool

Using a simple PDF editor will let you insert comments and notes, highlight sections of text and images, strike through text, fill out forms, sign forms, delete and insert pages and more, but it doesn’t change the original content.  Some of these packages are available free online but be prepared that you may not be able to carry out some of the ‘editing’.

There are a number of free online PDF editors available that allow you to annotate, leave a comment, highlight and strike through text, and some will let you edit and/or replace text.  Most providers of a free ‘editor’ also have a business or professional version that is fee-paying.  For example, Nitro PDF charge £98-£120 for their Nitro Pro product, and they have a cloud version too, whilst Foxit offer their standard package for approximately £60 and their Business package for £85.  The difference between the free versions and the professional options is the more comprehensive editing capabilities including drawing tools, stamps, sticky notes, watermarks, headers and footers, as well as being able to change text, styles, fonts and colours, but it is not a Word document and should not be used as such.

It is worth pointing out, however, that should the creator of the PDF document have encrypted and added security levels to the PDF, restricting the receiver to read only, it is almost impossible to be able to do any editing of the document.

Using a paid PDF editing tool

For more comprehensive editing capabilities, or if you are going to be converting files to PDF on a regular basis, then the better choice would be to purchase a PDF software package.  This will allow you to transform scanned documents or images in to editable PDFs.  From there you are able to edit the text, lines and paragraphs, add or replace images and/or artwork, delete, merge, insert or rearrange pages, change fonts, colours and styles, mark up and highlight text, add sticky notes with instructions and/or comments, fill out forms, and sign PDFs by typing text directly on to the PDF or applying an electronic signature using QuickSign (or another solution) which are secure and legally binding.

Whether you choose to use a free online editor or upgrade to a professional solution with more editing capabilities, there are still restrictions when amending PDFs.  If you need to carry out any substantial edits then it is always a better option to convert the PDF back into its original format, i.e. a Word document or PowerPoint presentation, do the edits and then convert it back into a PDF.


File to PDF to File

Traditionally, when we’re talking of converting a file to a PDF, we think of a Word document but other files can be converted into a PDF, such as an Excel spreadsheet, a jpeg image and even a Powerpoint presentation.

Whilst the most well-known and popular software solution to convert files to PDFs is Adobe Acrobat, nowadays there are a wide range of software solutions online.  It is even possible to convert a Word document into a PDF via the Google Chrome browser.  The majority of software solutions available, for example Foxit, Nuance, Bluebeam and Nitro, require subscription and prices vary, but if you only want to convert a few files to PDF on an occasional basis, then there are free software solutions available including PDFCreator, SodaPDF, PrimoPDF and PDF FactoryPro.

Converting a PDF

If you have an up-to-date Windows operating system then saving a Word document, or Excel spreadsheet, a Powerpoint presentation or a Publisher file is simple.  Open the file or document you wish to convert to a PDF, click the Save As option on the dropdown menu.

Save as

Change the Save as type option to PDF, and click Save.

Save as type

Saving a file as a PDF document using a PDF converter software solution is a simple task.  For example, Nitro PDF offer a comprehensive solution for a monthly or yearly subscription that gives you a host of tools including creating, merging, combining and converting files, editing, marking up and reviewing PDFs, and adding e-signatures to documents that are legally binding.  Their cloud version also allows the sharing of PDFs among work colleagues.  However, they also offer a free online Word to PDF converter that is very easy to use.  Click on ‘Select your file’ to upload the document you wish to convert, add the email address for the converted file to be sent, then just click ‘Convert Now’.

Nitro PDF online converter

For the conversion of one or two files or jpegs on an occasional basis, then using a free online PDF converter is a good option.  However, if you are planning on converting files and jpegs on a regular basis or a small business that is looking to share PDFs within the workspace, then subscribing to a PDF solution is going to be the better choice.

Nowadays it is also possible to convert PDFs back to their original format, i.e. a Word document, a jpeg image, an Excel spreadsheet or a PowerPoint presentation.  Using online software, such as PDF Converter, upload the PDF you wish to convert, select the format you want the PDF converted to and then click ‘Convert’.

PDF Converter

Embedding a PDF

With the rise of the Internet and the creation of a multitude of websites, a recent feature is being able to used PDFs to embed ebooks and other forms of long documents into a website using .pdf formatted and thereby converting a PDF into a web page.  It is important to note that when using the term ‘embedded files’ in respect PDFs, the inference is not to ‘non-text’ elements in a PDF.

There are two simple ways to embed a PDF file into a web page.  When the .pdf formatted file is a full page and it will be read as a PDF using a browser, link your PDF file with <a> tag.  For example, <a href=”http://localhost/learning-pdf>.  An alternative method when using a .pdf formatted file as part of a web page, i.e. enabling the display of PDFs within a blog post, use the <embed> tag in HTML editor.

Converting a file to a PDF ensures security, maximises space and makes the sharing of documents is easier with anyone.

The Benefits of a PDF

The PDF has been around for a while and its use has grown to such a large extent that it is now one of the most widely-used forms of document worldwide.  The biggest users of PDFs are businesses which take advantage of the PDF’s unique ability in that anyone that views the PDF is seeing the document as though it was the original, and there are many other benefits too.

  1. Maintaining the document format. With many types of documents or files, when it is shared and viewed on a variety of different devices – laptop, PCs, tablets, mobiles, etc. – the format can change and thereby either alter the document, run it over more pages than necessary, cause confusion or just generally giving a bad impression.  With a PDF, the format of the original document is maintained and presented in exactly the way it was originally intended to look.  This makes not only the viewing of PDF files better and clearer, it also uses less space so is easier to send and share, and it is a better for sending documents that are going to be printed.
  1. Ease of sharing. Because a PDF retains the format of the original document, it is easy to view, share and print, and it is a secure form of document.
  1. Compressed file size. The PDF format has a key advantage over the TIFF file format in that it compresses high quality files in to a smaller file size, making it ideal if you need to save hard drive space or have limited storage capabilities, and send via email with limited capacity.
  1. Protect your files. It is most likely in today’s world of cybercrime that you will want to protect any files you share with others or store, particularly if it contains sensitive or confidential information.  With a PDF, a file can be password-protected so that only the valid viewer who has the password is able to view the PDF.  Data can be encrypted and watermarks can be added, depending on the type of documents you are converting to PDF.

Secure PDF

  1. Viewable via any operating system. As long as the device on which you are viewing the PDF has a PDF viewer installed, such as Adobe Acrobat, then a PDF can be viewed through any operating system.  Mobiles that have an operating system such as iOS or Android are able to view PDFs without having to install a viewer as it is already incorporated in the operating system.
  1. Non-text elements can be easily integrated. It is easy to integrate non-text elements, such as hyperlinks or images, and keep the format, so that links can be opened and viewed in the web browser if you are looking at the document via a mobile device or a computer.

View in browser

  1. Quick and easy to create. PDFs are easy to create.  A few clicks of the mouse and you are able to create an exact electronic copy of your original document, including retaining the format, that you can share with colleagues worldwide and password protect if required.

However, there are disadvantages to PDFs, the principal one being that as a document they are not easy to edit.  By their very nature, a PDF is a mirror image of the original document and is therefore not easy to change, revise or manipulate.  That said, a comprehensive PDF package like Adobe Acrobat, Nuance, Foxit or Nitro can give you the tools to carry out a limited amount of editing.  But if you are looking to do a substantial amount of editing to a document, it may be easier to convert the PDF back into its original format, i.e. Word, Excel or PowerPoint, carry out your changes and then convert it back into a PDF when completed.

PDF-A file formats are principally used to embed PDFs in HTML or in web pages.  A correctly created PDF-A file will ensure that the PDF does not rely on external resources involved, such as fonts, images and other media, and they can be embedded into the file.  But there is a drawback; there are certain elements that a PDF-A will not allow, for example JavaScript and 3D, and they will either be discarded when the PDF is created or replaced with a static version.

Embed a PDF

The PDF is here to stay and whilst technology is moving ahead at break-neck speed, the PDF format is so widely used that it is unlikely to be pushed to one side in favour of an alternative.

What is a PDF?

It’s been around for a long time, the Portable Document Format, better known as the PDF.  In fact, it was in 1991 that the first version of the PDF came into existence; Version 1.0 of Adobe Acrobat was officially launched in 1993.  In those days, creating a product that delivered an exact electronic view of a document wasn’t easy; developers had to deal with operating systems, such as Windows, MS-DOS and UNIX that all did things their own way.  But it was achieved and today’s PDF is probably now THE tool in seamlessly sharing documents across the electronic space.

A brief history of the PDF

In 2007, the PDF format came under the care of the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) which has overseen the development of new specifications for the PDF, in alliance with Adobe adding their technical input, of course, and the technology is still growing to this day.  The recent launch of Adobe Acrobat DC (Document Cloud), which adds the tools of a touch-enabled interface, e-signature support and advance font-synthesising capacities, sits alongside recent additions such as 3D support, and it’s reported that their next aim is to improve the viewing on PDFs on mobile devices via their new Mobile Link and Mobile Apps functions.

A PDF – whether it’s a native PDF which is an electronically-processed PDF document  or a scanned PDF via a mobile or scanning device – captures all the details of a document in an electronic image that can be viewed, printed, forwarded, edited – well, with limited capability – embedded, optimised for the web and more.  But the PDF is more than just an image of a document; type fonts can be embedded allowing them to be viewed via any device, at any time; buttons on forms can be created that can trigger a movie or soundtrack; text can be rendered; graphic images and hypertext links can be inserted; the PDF is a genuine multi-purpose product and with the rise of online and mobile activity over the past few years, the PDF has become a mainstay for many companies and industries worldwide.

Advantages of a PDF

The PDF product is a cross-platform standard; anybody is able to create a PDF file and view via a PDF reader, such as Adobe Reader.  The file is compact and size is kept to a minimum, even if there are movies, sound tracks, bookmarks, web pages, hypertext, links or thumbnails included.  It is also possible to ensure your PDF document remains secure by password-enabling the file, i.e. only those with the correct password are able to open and view the PDF.

For many companies, the ease and speed in which you can create a PDF document and share it with others is probably the biggest advantage for many.  Add to the fact that documents can be made secure using encrypted data, watermarks or passwords and you’ve got one of the easiest ways to create, protect and share a wide variety of documents and files with colleagues and external stakeholders.

Because the PDF file is compressed and takes up little space on a storage system, the ability to archive documents using the PDF is growing in popularity.  There are a number of software products that allow you to create and archive a multitude of documents electronically, securely and quickly, and it is possible to search for a specific document in the archive.

Disadvantages of  a PDF

But as good as the PDF is, as with most things there are drawbacks.  Whilst the PDF can be used on the Internet, sometimes an HTML file may be a better option and if using a prepress application, the EPS file format is also used.

The PDF has the ability to retain the logical structure of a document using metadata; the drawback is that there aren’t many applications in the marketplace that are able to create these sorts of tagged PDF files.

But probably the biggest disadvantage is that PDFs are not really editable.  Yes, annotations, notes and other small changes can be made but it is difficult to change images or blocks of text to an existing PDF document.

Without doubt, the PDF is here to stay and its popularity will continue to grow.