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Definition: PDF


(Portable Document Format) The de facto standard for electronic document publishing from Adobe. There are billions of brochures, data sheets, white papers, forms and technical manuals on the Web in the PDF format.

Render, Save As and Edit
Adobe's free Acrobat Reader and many other applications can display and print PDF files. Documents can also be saved (exported) to PDF in Windows, starting with Windows 10, and the Mac, as well as with many conversion programs that convert various formats to PDF. However, although PDFs can be easily generated, editing PDFs requires Adobe Acrobat or other software that specifically features PDF editing.

PDFs Provide Font Freedom
PDFs solved a chronic problem, in which the target computer may not have all the fonts specified in a document. For a graphic artist, font selection is an important part of page design, but, in the past, only basic fonts were chosen to ensure they were available in every user's computer.

In contrast, PDF files do not rely on the fonts installed in the user's computer. Document designers are free to choose whichever fonts they have at their disposal, and those fonts are embedded within the PDF document. Because the fonts are not distributed for general use, they do not violate copyrights and patents, and most importantly, the page will render the same on every computer. See PDF/X and font incompatibility.

PDF Is a Superset of Adobe PostScript
PDF is often the preferred file format for sending documents to commercial print houses. If the commercial printer uses PDF imagesetters, no conversion is necessary. If it uses only PostScript hardware, the PDF files are converted to PostScript first. See PostScript, PDF/A, PDF/X, WWF, DjVu and XML Paper Specification.




PDFs Are Size Efficient
Compare the sizes of this PDF file with its JPEG and Microsoft Word (.doc and .docx) equivalents. These are all the same single-page text documents saved to four formats. Whereas the PDF and Word formats are aware of the file's contents, the JPEG image is always a matrix of pixels (see JPEG and DOC file).