eli5:What is pdf? What are its advantages over other file formats?



eli5:What is pdf? What are its advantages over other file formats?

In: Technology

It stands for Portable Document Format, and it’s a ‘container’ file that can hold text, images, links, audio and video all at once. PDF layouts look roughly the same on every platform, and they can incorporate fonts so you don’t have to worry about “what if the person I send this to doesn’t have Palatino Bold on their computer”.

PDFs can also incorporate password protection, and they have digital signature features so you can use PDF for approving things, signing contracts, stuff like that.

As a math/science teacher, I use PDF because if I put special symbols in a PDF, other people will see them just the way I intended. If I type some complicated math thing in Word, I have to hope the other person has whatever font I’m using (not that big a problem) and also has the equation-editor plugin. If they don’t, either they’ll have some symbols missing or the whole thing might be an unformatted mess.

Say you have a term paper to submit in a college class. If you send your professor a word document, you are sending him or her an editable document. There is a blinking cursor in the document. The professor could accidentally delete something. So instead, once you are finished you can download the word doc as a pdf which makes it a polished and unchangable document. Think of a pdf like printing a final copy, but electronically (ironically most printer settings menu have the option to print to PDF). It’s a way to securely share information in a way that all parties know that they are working with the same uneditable final product.