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What is a PDF?

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Some history

The Portable Document Format (PDF) is a file format developed by Adobe in the 1990s to present documents, including text formatting and images, in a manner independent of application software, hardware, and operating systems.

In 1993 Adobe made the PDF specification available for free and released it as an open standard in 2008 Published the International Organization for Standardization as ISO 32000-1:2008.

Since then it’s become a popular standard for distributing and publishing digital documents online.

Why use PDFs? Why not a word document?

The most important reason why PDF files are so common is because the format is designed for publishing and presenting a document. If you need to distribute a document, it’s the best format. Once created, PDF documents will look the same on any device or software they are opened on. There are also many options of free software that allow someone to open a PDF.

A .docx(Microsoft Word) document is useful for editing, but requires the reader to have a working and licenced copy of Microsoft Word. Also the design will look slightly different if opened on a different device and different versions of word will display certain items and content slightly different too. PDFs should be used when creating a document you want to distribute.

How do I Create a PDF?

In most Microsoft Office applications, simply select “Save As” and select PDF when prompted for the file type. Most programs have some way of generating a PDF built in. If not you can also get “PDF Printer” software, which allows you to “Print” to a PDF converter software. Keep in mind you still want to save your original editable file, as PDFs are not as easy to edit.

Generally creating PDFs does not require paid for software, editing a PDF is a different story.

Can I edit a PDF file?

Yes, while the format is not really designed for editing, you can get software that allows you to edit PDFs. This almost always is paid software. The most common is the official “Adobe Acrobat DC” which is the paid version of the free “Adobe Reader” software. As the PDF standard is open, there are many third party companies that have editors too, such as Foxit and PDF-Xchange Editor. Some of which are more cost effective, with arguably similar quality and features.

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