PDF (Portable Document Format) is a file format for electronic documents. PDF files use the “.pdf” filename extension.
Originally released in 1993 by Adobe Systems, Inc., the PDF format is now standardized under the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).
Users can view and print PDF files using Adobe Reader, a free application available from Adobe Systems, Inc.
There are several ways to create PDF files. Adobe InDesign, Adobe Illustrator, and other compatible software suites allow users to write directly to PDF files, while freeware like Acrobat Distiller converts files to PDF. Users can also use DTP, word-processing, and a wide array of other software to create PDF files that retain the layout of the original document.
Essentially, the PDF file format was designed to give users a way to convert documents without corrupting the print layout of their files or having to rely on specific operating systems or applications.
When creating a PDF file, you can select from various image resolution and compression options.
PDF also limits total data size, a feature that has made the format the standard for manuals, product information, and documents distributed online.
It also lets users create high-quality data, import font data, and generate files compatible with all output environments. Given this broad functionality, PDF is becoming the preferred format for submitting manuscript data to printing companies.
Understanding the various settings that come into play when creating a PDF for different purposes gives you a better grasp of what the PDF file format can do.
The Adobe Acrobat software makes it possible to add annotations (comments) to PDF files and even combine multiple documents into a single file. Video embedding and highly detailed security settings (passwords, etc.) are just two more of the PDF format’s wide-ranging features. When collaborators have the proper environments for using PDF and agree on how to use the files, they can take advantage of the format in a diverse range of applications.
- This is the screen that you see when you export a file to PDF in Adobe InDesign. The settings are essentially the same as those used in Adobe Illustrator. The "General" settings represent the basic configuration. To export in PDF/X format, choose the appropriate standard from the "Printer" drop-down list. PDF/X, a PDF subset designed for printing, eliminates all unnecessary functionality to ensure stable output. Most printing companies now prefer to receive documents in PDF/X-1a format. In the "Compatibility" menu, select the target version of Adobe Acrobat
- This is an area of the screen that you see when you export a file to PDF in Adobe InDesign. The "Compression" area lets you configure the compression settings for your document image. "Downsampling" reduces the number of pixels in the image to boost the resolution of the target image. This process occurs when the resolution is above the value next to "for images above:". You can also choose your compression method: JPEG (lossy) or ZIP (lossless). In business applications, using JPEG is effective because it keeps image quality and size to lower levels. ZIP, on the other hand, is good for printing applications because it maximizes image quality. Select your compression type based on your intended use.
- This is an area of the screen that you see when you export a file to PDF in Adobe InDesign. The "Marks and Bleeds," "Output," and "Advanced" sections mainly contain printing-related settings. This goes for other settings, as well, but make sure to check with the printing company about the recommended settings before you submit your files.
- This is the screen that you see when you save a PDF in Adobe Illustrator. If you want to be able to edit your PDF file again later in Adobe Illustrator, check the "Preserve Illustrator Editing Capabilities" box. Note that enabling this option increases the size of the PDF file.
- Acrobat's annotation tools let you add comments and make revisions to a PDF file. These annotations are visible in Acrobat Reader. The PDF creator can configure the file to allow annotations in Acrobat Reader. The software features many other convenient tools for working with PDFs, including a "Comments List" that shows all the comments in the corresponding document.