If you type the acronym ‘PDF’ into Google, you will get nearly 13 billion search results. It is not difficult to see how extensive PDF use is. You can see this file format almost everywhere on the internet.
Given there is no shortage of file formats, why is PDF so popular? Also, how does PDF work, and what are the advantages of using this format?
Finally, perhaps the most important question, why should someone use this type of file? Read on to get the answers and you will be surprised.
PDF Which Acronym?
You will be amazed at how popular PDF is as an acronym. It can mean ‘personal data form’, or ‘post-doctoral fellowship’, or any of another 90 different meanings.
However, the meaning we are interested in is ‘portable document format.’ All electronic formats are portable to some extent. However, PDF is truly portable because it is so user-friendly and integrates with so many other applications.
So What Exactly Is PDF?
Originally, PDF was developed by the founder of Adobe as an electronic format that could be used for digital printing. This meant that any major software developer or operating system could print this document format.
One of the best things about PDF is that the look and feel of the document do not change regardless of the operating system or software being used. This means that as the document appears on your screen, that is what it will look like when printed out.
This is very useful for many different types of online content, such as magazine articles, product catalogs, advertisements, official documents, and even legal documentation.
How to Use PDF
Another aspect that makes PDF popular is that it is easy to use. You do not need any expertise or even any expensive software. You will need a PDF reader like the free software provided by Adobe, or you can use numerous other alternatives.
Many of the free PDF readers also allow you to interact with the PDF document in a useful way, albeit limited, when compared to the software available if you purchase a license.
Advantages of Using PDF
There is a multitude of advantages to using this document format. For example, you can create interactive features like filling in forms or tick checkboxes. You can create digital signatures and insert other types of multimedia.
If you are using a PDF editor, you can even add or remove certain parts of the document while retaining the same file format. There is no need to revert to the word processing software or the publishing software.
Other useful features are hyperlinks within the document. Even though this type of feature is available in other formats, the speed and user interface that PDF provides makes navigating the document easy. These features look and feel excellent on modern tablets like the iPad.
How Does PDF Work – Reliability and Security?
Once a PDF document is created, the image of the document is fixed. When that document is sent to another person, as long as they have a PDF reader, you can be sure they will see exactly what you see on your screen.
That makes the PDF very reliable. You do not need to download special templates or fonts or anything else. If it is PDF, you can rely on the document maintaining its image. Another excellent feature is that you can zoom in on pictures and other parts of the document.
This works very well when trying to read documents on small devices like an iPhone or other mobile devices with small screens.
Apart from being reliable, PDF is very secure. You can protect documents with a password. The only way to read a document like this is to know the password. This makes the document very useful in the medical and legal industries.
Many document types allow you to change the document without any ‘digital fingerprint’ so to speak. That is not the case with PDF. Once the document is ‘sealed’ as it were, any changes to the document are recorded. This further adds to the integrity and security of PDF documents.
Many document types can be converted to PDF before being sent to others. If you want to know how to do this as well as how to use other features of PDF, check out this tutorial.
Why Should I Use PDF?
Likely, you have already worked the answer out to that question. However, if you still need convincing, consider this: PDF is an excellent collaborative document.
Many PDF editors, as well as free software, will allow you to underline, highlight and add comments to the document. These ‘notes’ can be identified according to the various collaborators so you know exactly who thinks what.
This means PDF is an excellent format to ask for feedback and get comments on a document from many sources. You can manage this information so your document can remain clear and easy to read.
Many people say getting and giving feedback is one of the most important skills we should have. If you agree, then you will see the value of using PDF.
PDF – to Print or Not to Print
That is the question. Well, now you can choose by while being fully informed. In this article, we have discussed the answer to the question, “How does PDF work?”
Not only that, but you have learned about how useful and advantageous many PDF features are.
If you want to read other helpful articles like this, check out some of my articles on 3D printing in education and how this improves engagement with learning materials.