Every feature counts. Whether shopping for a new home, car or the latest gadgets — getting the best bang for your buck from your investment means using each feature to its maximum potential. And while it’s often easier to evaluate the features and capabilities of new products, I thought I’d spend a little time uncovering the benefits of something we’ve all been working with for a long time: PDF.
The features of a PDF have remained quite consistent since its emergence in 1993, which is incredible considering the massive technological developments we’ve seen over the past 21 years. This document format is as relevant today as ever, with businesses dependent on PDFs to conduct vital document sharing, collaboration and filing of all manner of important documents. But as ubiquitous as this tool is today, are you maximising its value?
The PDF is a more powerful tool than many people realise, and is packed with an arsenal of built-in features to simplify digital document workflows. Today, I’m sharing the five facts of PDF that will help make work easier and more efficient for your business and you:
PDFs can be made secure.
Many people consider PDFs to be final-form e-documents – and they are, unless you have access to PDF editing software. Anyone with a PDF editor (like Nitro Pro or Adobe Acrobat) can modify a PDF file. But by applying password protection or file encryption, users can grant or restrict access to sensitive documents, “locking” them against those who lack permission.
Many still view the PDF as little more than a digital repository tool, but it’s important to know that the security permissions offered by PDF editors are valid methods for keeping your sensitive PDF files secure.
PDFs work with many other programs.
Another outdated view about PDFs is that they’re “fixed-format,” but in truth PDF documents play really well with many other file types. PDFs can easily be converted into Microsoft Word, Excel and PowerPoint files, and vice-versa. In general, a PDF file can be created from any file type, and can also be converted into almost any other format with ease.
And, true to the “portable” part of its name, PDFs also offer superior file compression, which can condense large files into a more manageable size for sharing.
PDF annotation tools make them ideal for collaboration.
Effective collaboration can provide dividends of immense value. After all, when a team can review documents quickly, clearly, and easily, the business can perform better. PDFs can accomplish many functions through smart, integrated collaborative tools found in the annotative layer of every PDF (e.g., marking up documents, leaving comments, etc.).
These features allow multiple parties to handle the same document from start to finish, without the hassle of printing, signing, scanning and emailing. Comments and annotations are also tracked and attributed to each user, so reviewing feedback is simple.
PDFs are shareable in the cloud.
The PDF has demonstrated an ability to remain incredibly relevant over the past 21 years, and continues to be so in the Digital Age. And with the benefit of Web connectivity provided by some PDF solutions, professionals are able to create, edit, and secure key documents as PDF files, then upload them directly to the cloud for access at any time, from anywhere. The cloud has broadened the reach of the PDF and increased usage as well.
PDFs can be archived.
The amount of information saved in PDF format is virtually infinite, and losing access to this information could mean big trouble for businesses, governments, legal firms, individuals…the list goes on. To ensure that PDF documents and the data within retain their integrity over time, the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO) named the PDF/A format, or PDF for Archiving, the standard electronic document file format for long-term preservation.
Saving to PDF/A excludes certain features in a document which may give rise to concerns about security and the ability to archive documents. It’s practically a match made in heaven for Government and Legal organisations; in fact, the US Federal Courts have mandated that any documents submitted for filing must be in PDF/A format.
Although people tend to have a narrow view of the PDF and its capabilities, the features detailed above demonstrate its versatility as a lasting technology built for digital businesses and the needs of the modern workforce. While some are quick to sound the death knell for the PDF, alternatives have yet to dethrone it as the top document format of choice in global business.
There are plenty of valid reasons why the use of PDF remains strong over two decades , so why not use it for all its worth?