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12 Reasons Why You Should Use PDFs

You might know what a PDF is already, but in case you don’t, here we go – simply put, a PDF stands for Portable Document Format. Adobe Systems developed the PDF in the early 1990s as a way of transferring digital files. Back then it was much more difficult to transfer between different devices and software; the PDF offered a fixed format for cross-platform viewing. The beauty of the PDF is that anyone could view the file in its original format. They could be printed, but they couldn’t be edited. As well as this basic layer of security, PDF creators can choose different security levels for enhancement. Throughout this article, we will examine the ways that you can keep your PDFs safe and why they make good choices for file sharing.

One thing to keep in mind before we move ahead is that although there are benefits to using a PDF, they haven’t evolved since the 1990s which can make them seem a little dated in a world of smart devices.

Password Protection

As mentioned previously, the appeal of a PDF is that it can’t be edited by other people. Although this is true, it is possible to convert a PDF file to a word document – see SetApp’s helpful article on how to change a pdf to word on mac. They have tons of handy tips on their blog as well as offering a range of handy apps to make your life easier.
Luckily, you can combat this by adding security. Just like you would put a password on your phone or computer, you can password protect your PDF files. In fact, you can add two layers to your documents: access and editing passwords.

Universal

As you already know, PDF files are universal and can be read on any device regardless of the original software. Word documents, on the other hand, when sent to Mac can be a nightmare to open and edit, but all you need is one of the many free PDF readers. Too many times you can open documents that were created in different formats, and although you can often open them, the layout might change slightly – something you don’t need to worry about with a PDF.

As PDFs have been around for 30 years and are so good at what they do, businesses around the world will know what they are and will more than likely be using them.

Small File Size

As PDF files are portable, their file size is smaller. When creating a PDF, you can also add your presentations, spreadsheets, and images all into a single document, making your work more streamlined. Although the original file is compressed when converted into a PDF, the visual integrity of the media isn’t lost at all – preserving your original work.

Sign Here Please

Businesses quite often use PDF files because of the ability for signing documents. Signatures can be done using drawn-in marks, typing, or inserting an image of handwriting. Further, forms that would usually be filled out by hand can be filled out using one of the many PDF editors.
Although it can be handy to create editable PDF files, it has to be noted that the layout and navigation can change from reader to reader.

Interactivity

When creating a PDF, users can embed hyperlinks, music, videos, and other files to make an interactive document – which is quite important in the age of smartphones. Making your PDFs interactive might draw more readers because there are many more appealing ways of informing these days.

Accessibility

With the amount of regulation regarding businesses making their documents accessible to all, it’s a good job that PDFs are compatible with screen readers and text-to-speech software – users can add in bookmarks, alternate texts, and tags as part of accessibility.

Organizational

PDF files can be laid out in sections, like a table of contents, allowing viewers to quickly navigate them. Further, they can be searched by word or page number. This can make them ideal for eBooks and journals.

Document Analytics

When a user sends out a secure PDF, they can see who has access to the document – this means that if someone cracks the password, it will be obvious and action can be taken immediately.

Watermarks

Whether you’re a business with a unique document to send or an author with an original idea, you can use a PDF file to add a watermark to work – the mark will act as a copying deterrent for others. Having a watermark will also let readers know that the information is confidential.

No Printing

As another layer of security, users can add limitations on whether the document can be printed and how many times – this can improve a workplace green policy.

Not Easily Altered

When you send over a JPEG, TIFF, or GIF file, viewers can easily alter them without leaving a mark. When you edit a PDF, it’s difficult to edit without leaving a footprint – this can be useful in court trials regarding tampering or forgery. For best practice, you could convert your work between PDF and back for editing.

Staying Power

Technology is evolving all of the time and has come on in leaps and bounds since the 1990s. The fact that PDFs haven’t evolved in this time shows that they will stand the test of time and won’t be going anywhere fast.

Breached

It’s all well and good focusing on why something is so good, but it’s also important to acknowledge the faults. The most significant fault is that because Adobe hasn’t updated the PDF a whole lot, it’s relatively easy for hackers to embed malicious code – leaving readers with nasty viruses on their computer – for best practice, make sure you scan your files before opening anything.

PDFs have certainly earned the right to be used as widely as they are. Despite being around 30 years old they still have significant security benefits in a world of ever-changing technology. So, next time you have a document to send out, remember to convert it to a PDF so you can add any additional layers of security – as a versatile document, it’s a no-brainer.

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