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Why Use PDF File Formats? 5 Benefits of PDFs

In this article, we’ll be going through some of the many ways that PDFs make document sharing easier in your digital life. 

PDF stands for portable document format and is commonly used for presenting and transferring information without losing formatting settings between computer systems. PDFs are easy to make and use, and if you’ve sent or received documents over the web, chances are you’ve probably come across PDFs. So yes, PDFs are the standard for sharing documents online, but why? 

1: PDFs Reduce Clutter

By far one of the greatest advantages of PDFs is their file size. Documents you create in Microsoft Word or other document editors will naturally have larger file sizes in their .doc and .docx formats. 

PDFs do not have this issue, as they do not have larger file sizes unless you have a high-resolution picture in the text. Even then, you can compress any amount of PDFs into a single ZIP file; likewise, you can be assured that the person unzipping your file will be able to view the PDFs without formatting issues. 

2: Universal File Format

If you’ve ever received a PDF, you know that you can open and view the document right on your web browser or using a PDF reader. No special software or document viewer is required! In fact – you can even open and view PDFs on your phone or other mobile devices. 

Because of this, you won’t have to worry about someone receiving a PDF and not having the correct software to view your document as you intended. Everyone, regardless if they’re using a Mac, PC, or even Linux device can view PDFs.  

3: PDF Avoids DocX Compatibility

Files in the .doc or .docx format are usually editable documents that can be opened with a document editor software like Word. That said, there are a lot of document editor software applications that people may use that don’t always have the same formatting settings. For example, a file that you create in Microsoft Word may have a font that Google Docs does not have. If you share that document in a .doc or .docx format, the person opening your document in Google Docs will not see the document the same way as you intended. 

PDFs avoid this by packaging your document in a file format that doesn’t lose formatting settings between devices. Note that it won’t be as easy to make edits to a document once you put it in a PDF. But you can always keep the original document you build in a document editor as a separate file that you can return to if you need to make edits. You can also make use of a PDF editor to make small adjustments to a PDF. 

4: Security and Encryption

PDFs have various levels of security depending on how you want to lock or protect the information within. You can encrypt a PDF file so that only someone with a password can open and view the document. An encrypted PDF file will be very difficult to open without a password. With a PDF editor, you can even lock all but a specific part of a PDF where a person accessing it can make edits. This is especially useful for contracts and official documents! 

PDFs can be marked as read-only, so a person with the document cannot easily edit or print the document (protecting copyrights, for example). PDFs have a surprising amount of security so you can transport sensitive data. 

5: Annotating and Commenting 

Whether you’re taking notes on a larger document, bookmarking specific pages for review, or editing a paper, PDFs will have you covered. If you have access to a PDF editor, you have access to all the settings necessary to proofread a document. The best part is once you’ve marked up a document, you can send it to someone else for them to review your notes or comments. 

Annotating and commenting on a PDF can be used for anything from editing a paper to sending an e-book with marked sections you’ve found interesting. 

Are There Any Disadvantages of Using PDFs?

The main disadvantage to using PDFs is that you won’t have the same level of customizability and editing power that a document editor will afford you. For this reason, if you’re building a document in an editor, you should probably save two separate files: One PDF and one as a .doc or .docx or whatever the original file format is (PowerPoint, Illustrator, etc.). The reason for this is the PDF is great for sending to other people, and the original file format is much easier to edit. 

If you need to make changes to the document, you can open the .doc or .docx file in a document editor, make the changes, and then save the document as a PDF and replace the separate PDF that you’ve saved.

If you don’t have access to the original .doc or .docx version of a PDF and need to make edits, you still have options! You’ll need a PDF like PDF.Live’s PDF editor or Doc to PDF converter. Unlike most editors, PDF.Live’s editor is not a separate download and works entirely in your browser. It will allow you to make formatting changes and edit or sign PDFs that you may receive. Try it out for yourself for free. PDF.Live offers a limited number of free tasks each day, followed by low-priced subscriptions, cancelable at any time, for our power users!