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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.