PDFs: The Champions of the Digital Age

PDFs - The Champions of the Digital AgeBack before computers became commonplace, no one gave much consideration to whether or not people would be able to “read” files. All anyone had to do was pull out a typewriter, peck away at some keys, and hand the finished copy on down the line. But as electronic communication became more and more common, users began to run into the problem of file incompatibility.

File incompatibility is when different individuals or organizations use different computer operating systems system. As a result, certain electronic files that rely on specific encryptions to be opened or read may appear as gibberish (or may not even appear at all) when viewed on a computer without the necessary programs. —and In a world where multiple computer companies fight for dominance, this can result is some serious problems.

Luckily, there is a way around incompatibility that everyone, from PC diehards to Apple fanatics, can use with ease: the PDF.

PDFs get around compatability issues by allowing users to—in essence—take a snapshot of their document and send it along as an image file. The recipient needs only download a free program to be able to open and view the file, regardless of what format or program the original document made use of. However, that’s not all that PDFs are used for. Here are three other reasons to rely on PDF.

1. They can’t be changed

Once a PDF is created, it is unchangeable. This is why PDFs are so often used in business and legal settings; there isn’t any chance of the document being altered. This makes them especially suited for things like contracts, terms and conditions, disclosures, and any number of other documents that simply would not be safe to deliver as a text file. The unchangeability of PDFs protects both the sender and the receiver. And for times when a signature is required, certain programs make it possible to add legally binding digital signatures to PDFs.

2. They can include graphics and images

Many important documents incorporate visual elements into their design. Things like graphics, charts, photographs, logos, etc. all work together to make a striking and attention grabbing document that should get its point across very well. However, sometimes when documents that include these elements are moved from one computer to another, certain formatting data gets lost or jumbled. This can result in images that become too large or too small to fit on the page, graphs with incorrect coloring, or a number of other equally disruptive issues. PDFs circumvent this by turning the document into a single flat image, as opposed to a multilayered file with dozens of different possible problem areas.

3. They’re easy to use

Despite their high level of usefulness, PDFs remain easy to learn and simple to use. If you have the proper software, files can be converted directly to PDF format simply by selecting the corresponding option from the print menu. Other word to pdf converter programs exist so that you can make updates or changes to documents before sending them along (assuming that the original author has given you permission to do so). As for working within the PDF, as long as the original document began as some form of text file and not a scanned image, you can still search and copy as you would any other file type.

So if you work with documents in school, at your job, or even in your personal life, PDFs are an unbeatable way to make sure that your most important files remain accessible, usable, and secure. Or, you could go back to using a typewriter.

Jessie Jaureguy

Jessie Jaureguy

Jessie is a technical consultant and interior decorator living in Seattle. She enjoys web design, Pantone colors, and helping people find their own personal office zen.
Jessie Jaureguy

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