I often find people, especially many of my clients and / or contacts, still send me their documents in their native Microsoft Word format, which is .doc or .docx – while it is fine, it is done under the assumption that the recipient has an application that’s capable of reading such format.
What is PDF?
Invented by Adobe Systems and perfected over 17 years, Portable Document Format (PDF) is the global standard for capturing and reviewing rich information from almost any application on any computer system and sharing it with virtually anyone, anywhere. With the launch of Adobe® Acrobat® X software, PDF is more secure and dynamic than ever. That’s why individuals, businesses, and government agencies around the world trust and rely on PDF files to communicate their ideas and vision.
Problem with Microsoft’s Document Format
To me the greatest problem comes to opening the file.
Let’s take my mobile computers – the Nokia N900 and Apple iPad for example, I can’t view any Microsoft document (eg .docx, .ppt, .xls) without installing applications like say Documents-To-Go that costs USD 9.99 just for the viewer. On the other hand Adobe’s PDF is instantly readable. I believe this is the same for many other devices, which is no wonder why there’s so many version of Documents-To-Go made for so many other devices.
Always remember that not everyone has an application that reads Microsoft’s format installed. Microsoft Office isn’t cheap, so the next best alternative is OpenOffice but again it’s not without problem. It’s over 100MB to download, it’s not available for every device, and you might still face compatibility issue.
So let’s say the recipient has Microsoft Office or OpenOffice installed – which version is it? Many are still using very old versions that are unable to open the new formats used in newer versions of Microsoft Office. Let’s face it, most people just save in whatever format given by default, which is always the latest format.
Now supposedly the recipient is able to open the document, you’ll see ugly underlines for whatever text the software thinks is an error, and the document is available for the recipient to edit. You could lock it but chances are if you’re a person who knows how to lock your document, you’d be using PDF to begin with. 😀
Why Use PDF?
I think from my elaboration on the weakness of Microsoft’s formats, you could probably guess what are the strengths of PDF documents.
1. It is readable on almost any other device, and Adobe PDF document readers are available for free!
2. It is not editable.
3. It makes everything look neat and nice.
The only down side of using PDF document is that the file size is a lot bigger. I tried converting a 22Kb .docx text file and the PDF version of the same file was 143Kb. Yes, you still need a reader but
Converting to PDF
Don’t have Adobe’s Acrobat to convert files to PDF format?
Here’s are some other ways you can get it done.
– If you’re using the latest version of Microsoft Word, you can immediately save it as PDF document but from my experience, Microsoft’s conversion to PDF bloats the file size really badly. The same 22Kb .docx file I mentioned earlier resulted in a 515Kb PDF document when I saved it to PDF via Microsoft Word.
– If you have OpenOffice, they also have a button for you to convert the document to PDF.
– Use PDF995, it works like a printer so all you have to do is choose PDF995 as the printer and you’ll get the PDF file.
– Use Zamzar, all you have to do is upload the file to the site and they’ll convert it for you. 🙂