Although the Portable Document Format’s (PDF) development dates back to the 90s, it remains one of the most widely-used document formats. The main reason for its popularity is the fact that it has numerous benefits, ensuring it continues to be relevant and useful. Businesses have historically favored PDFs for storing documents due to its benefits and the improvements it offers over other formats. If you aren’t already saving your business documents as PDF files, the following five essential benefits may help you understand why doing so is a good idea.
If you’ve ever viewed documents in other formats on different computers and platforms, you probably noticed they frequently have issues. These include errors such as missing fonts, elements displayed incorrectly and re-pagination. Because of these issues, the document itself could look completely different – sometimes to the point of being difficult to decipher. This is undesirable for business documents, as it looks unprofessional and, in some cases, could have legal implications.
However, documents stored as PDFs don’t have the same problems. PDFs are specifically designed to preserve the formatting and visual elements of the original. When you view a PDF document on a different computer or platform, it looks the same as it did when you created it. This avoids any potential legal trouble and helps maintain a professional look to your documents.
Compared to most other formats, PDF documents tend to be much more compact because they support various types of compression. For business documents that contain many images, the size reduction can be significant. There are many benefits to storing business documents in a format that provides more compact file sizes. For starters, it will take up less storage space, allowing you to store more documents. In addition, distributing the documents will be easier, as it will take less time to transfer them.
Ultimately the file size of a PDF document will depend on its content as well as the type of compression that is used. The list of compression algorithmsused by PDFs can be extensive. Some of the more popular options include JPEG, JPEG2000, JBIG2, CCITT, LZW and RLE.
PDF file formatssupport a wide range of security features, making it easy to protect data on business documents. This also ensures that only certain users are provided access. For added security, you can set up a password requirement to open and view the PDF. You can also set up different permissions for users to edit, print or perform other actions.
Another useful security feature of PDFs is its support for digital signatures and certificates. This provides an alternative that will give you greater control over the access levels that different individuals or groups of users have to sensitive business documents.
Due to the popularity of PDF as a format, most devices and platforms make it easy to open and view PDF documents. In fact, many modern devices have PDF viewers built-in. Newer versions of popular browsers can open and see PDFs as well.
Additionally, because there are many free PDF readers available, finding one for any platform won’t be difficult. Simply put, if you distribute business documents in PDF, the recipients shouldn’t have any issues viewing them. At most they may need to download a free PDF reader, but that should rarely be the case.
The current popularity of PDF as a format, coupled with its continued use, is a guarantee of the longevity of the format itself. In other words, you won’t have to worry that PDFs will become obsolete. There is no concern that you will have difficulty reading documents in the future that you have saved as PDFs. There is even a variant of PDF known as PDF/A that is an ISO-standardized version. Businesses use this for archiving and long-term document storage. Essentially, the risk of a new standard replacing PDF is minimal.
Considering these benefits, the real question that you should be asking yourself is: Why aren’t you already storing your business documents as PDF files? Keep in mind that the benefits listed above are only a few of the many advantages of PDFs. Some other benefits include the fact that PDFs are searchable and converting PDF images to text using OCR is easy.
However, there is a small downside to using PDFs. PDF editors are either limited in functionality for the free versions or costly for the paid ones. While there are quite a few editors available, the more professionally-oriented editors can be expensive, and the free options are very basic. That being said, there are a growing number of capable editors out there, such as Movavi PDF Editor.
You’re probably starting to see how storing documents as PDFs can help your business. In most cases it won’t take long to convert existing documents to PDFs. Once you do, you’ll never have to worry about them in the future.
Photo courtesy of Pixabay user rawpixel