What Does PDF Format Mean?

by Angelique Sanders

Many documents are available for download as a PDF. But with all of the software titles available as options, how did this format become so popular? What does it have to offer?

The Need Arose

Before PDFs, people would submit files to one another using whichever software they had. If the recipient didn't have the same software or the same version, he or she would have to install a converter and convert the file. When this was possible, the results often differed from the original.

Acrobat to the Rescue

Adobe created its Acrobat software as a way for people on different types of computers, with different operating systems and software, to share documents. Acrobat could be used to create files with the PDF (Portable Document Format) extension. The documents do not need to be converted and usually look as the sender intended.

Initial Distribution

Readers initially found widespread usefulness via federal tax forms. The government offered tax forms on the Internet via PDF format, with a free download of Reader. This introduced Acrobat to a wide market.

Other Uses

PDFs also are highly embraced in the print industry as they support high resolution output at small file sizes. They also do not require "bundling," meaning the sender does not have to submit fonts and pictures as Acrobat embeds these into the PDF.

Marketing Strategy Assured its Niche

Acrobat Reader, the software necessary to open a PDF file, is distributed free of charge. Adobe Acrobat, which carries a licensing fee, used to be necessary to create PDF files, but now that can be done with free software. Acrobat is useful to edit PDF files so it still has a role in the marketplace, which pays for the continued updates to and distribution of the free Reader software.

PDF Creation Today

Now, many popular software titles carry embedded support for the creation of PDFs. A number of free print drivers also have sprung up, allowing a user to "print" a document to PDF, which uses a print process to create a PDF document.

About the Author

Angelique Sanders has been a freelance writer since 1989, with hundreds of published pieces to her name. Her writing credits include a stint as a restaurant reviewer for "TravelHost" magazine, a weekly political column for a Portland newspaper, and a bevy of food and cooking-related articles as well as other topics. She lives in the beautiful Pacific Northwest.

Photo Credits

  • photo_camera SXC.hu