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This special file format, PDF, often comes with a heated discussion surrounding the usage and impact on its users. Then what is a PDF?

What Is a PDF?

Portable Document Format, otherwise known as PDF, is arguably one of the most popular tools for creating, storing, and distributing information, which can be divided into two categories: native PDF and scanned PDF. PDF documents are widely used daily, and PDF has essentially become a prerequisite to ensure a higher working efficiency in modern offices.

Developed by Adobe in the 1990s, PDFs were born to create a document format that displayed and presented the same content on any device. Such a characteristic popularized PDF usage among university facilities, students, and professionals.

There is no denying PDF is a helpful assistant, but it still has a few drawbacks. Thus, the PDF pros and cons will be expounded in this article.

Pros of PDF

Compatibility

A PDF file remains self-contained – even on different OS. This file type is stable, irrespective of operating systems, software, or hardware. That is to say, whoever you send the PDF document to and on whichever device, the file will remain unchanged and undistorted. Therefore, converting MS Office formats or other formats into a PDF file is a great way to maintain styling, format, and font usage along with the content.

Compaction

When a PDF contains too many HD images or other content, the file tends to be very large. Such an issue can be well resolved by PDF’s compression algorithm, which helps optimize a large file into a smaller one. Hence, it won’t take up as much space as it usually would. Albeit PDF files can be compressed to smaller sizes, the quality of images in files won’t be damaged at all.

Security

PDF is a non-editable format that guarantees the consistency of files. Without dedicated tools, it’s impossible to edit PDF files, which protects the files from being forged, especially when the file contains any important information. Security settings can be also customized, and two-level passwords are available to limit certain operations on your shared PDF document.

E-signature feature

PDF documents allow you to sign electronically, which improves the authenticity of your file by adding e-signatures. Like handwritten files, PDF files with e-signatures are also legally binding. That’s why governments and businesses are adopting PDF as the standard file format for their work.

Portability 

PDFs can be displayed on most existing devices (PC, mobile phone, Mac, tablet). In addition, the compatibility will make sure you’re worry-free about content distortion. You can upload your PDF files to a cloud-based space, then check them whenever you want by downloading them to your device.

Cons of PDF

Editability

Simply put, editing PDF files isn’t as easy as other formats. The main issue is that, in most cases, your PDFs are actually scanned copies of an existing document, which entails the OCR technology to recognize the identifiable characters within PDFs. Scanned PDFs differ from native PDFs. That’s why users may need professional programs to cope with this type of PDF.

Extraction

If you want to extract or export images from a PDF document for future use, then this file type may not be your best choice. Its nature makes it hard to extract the embedded images and paste them anywhere.

Mobile and SEO-Friendly

PDF will always remain the same, no matter what device you use. In a sense, PDF isn’t a responsive and interactive file format. When you open a PDF file on web pages or mobile devices, the page layout or the structure won’t be automatically adjusted to the screens. What’s worse, if a PDF document is large, opening this file on mobile may take some time.

PDFs are not a preferred format for most search engines because they lack certain essential elements that web pages have. In other words, when it comes to SEO and mobile users, this may not be an ideal format.

Teamwork

Throughout the market, many developers have released tools to help with synchronous editing. To date, there aren't any similar features in PDF tools, making it difficult to collaborate with team members. However, most productivity programs, like MS Office and Google Gmail, now allow real-time collaboration on documents.

Reading difficulties

Pages in PDF files are formatted in conventional A4 or A3 sizes, and it’s easy to print. However, most computer screens have an aspect ratio of between 4:3 and 16:9, and it takes time to read a file by scrolling down the PDF pages.

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Hopefully, the pros and cons of PDF have been detailed above. A comprehensive guide is provided before making any decision. If you need to optimize your PDF documents, maybe SwifDoo PDF can help!

Monica

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Monica has more than three years of experience in writing tech products. And she has been a fan of SwifDoo PDF since it was released. Now she works as a full-time editor for SwifDoo PDF. With her extensive experience, Monica has offered many helpful and feasible recommendations for PDF tools.

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