PDF’s are Great for . . .
Manuals and Instructions
If you’re out looking for information on the web, you’ll find lots of PDF files. The Portable Document File is everywhere you look. If you’ve recently purchased anything from a kitchen appliance to a computer, you will have searched the packing materials and found – no manual. Instead you’ll be directed to the company website to download and save a PDF version of the manual.
This use of a PDF file is as a simple replacement for paper. No heavy 50 page document for you to unpack and misplace, instead you get a searchable digital reproduction of the very latest version of the operating manual to tuck away safely in your computer filing system. As a bonus, you can print just the necessary pages when you need them, and if you lose it you can download it again.
Forms and Documents
Because they appear as exact and printable copies of an original, PDF format is popular for official documents and legal forms. PDFs can be locked so that changes are nearly impossible to make, and they can be password protected as well. If you encounter a fillable PDF form, you can sign it digitally and deliver it via email. Or you can print a PDF order form, fill it and mail it in.
PDF is an excellent format to deliver finished graphics to be printed. In can include embedded fonts, printer’s crop marks, and accurate color information.
So PDFs are well suited for information that we usually expect to find on paper, and that’s the best way to use them on your website. In Part 2, we’ll talk about some of the not-so-good uses of PDFs.