The PDF format is a common document format—we use it all the time, but it’s a good idea to look under the hood at why it’s so popular! This guide will cover the basics of PDFs, why it is useful, when a PDF is a good document format to use, and how to produce a document in PDF formats.
PDF is an acronym for Portable Document Format. Adobe® Portable Document Format (PDF) is a nearly-universal standard for electronic document distribution worldwide. Adobe PDF preserves all the fonts, formatting, graphics, and color of any source document, regardless of the application and platform used to create it. Adobe PDF files are compact and can be shared, viewed, navigated, and printed exactly as intended by anyone with free Adobe Acrobat® Reader® software or with a browser that has a PDF viewer. Most modern web browsers have a PDF viewer that launches automatically when a PDF needs to be rendered.
While PDFs are easy to create, share, and distribute, the format was not designed to make it easy to modify content. Adobe Acrobat Professional (as opposed to the Reader) is needed to modify PDF documents and do other advanced tasks. Through JourneyEd, for Lehigh use only, the cost is around $83 (contact LTS for licensing details). Acrobat Pro is not available by default on most campus computers. If you do not have Acrobat Pro, it is generally easier to edit the content in whatever program was originally used to create it and then create a new PDF. If you do not have the original document in its native format, it may be possible to scan the PDF with an OCR (optical character recognition) scanner so that it can be edited. Both Libraries have book-edge scanners with this functionality. The option will work best if the document has a simple layout.
The main difference between Acrobat Pro and Acrobat Reader is in the functions you can perform.
You do not need Acrobat Pro to view or print PDF files, or to create simple pdf documents. Microsoft Office applications can be used to save or export the documents as PDF. Free applications such as PDF995, and web applications such as smallpdf.com, offer creation and conversion of PDF documents. PDF995 displays a popup ad during the creation/conversion process.
Adobe Acrobat Professional can be used to do the following:
Microsoft Office documents can be exported in PDF format. See this Microsoft Support document "Save or Convert to PDF."
With Word 2013 and 2016, you can also convert a PDF into an editable Word document. See this Microsoft Support document "Edit PDF content in Word."
Not sure if you need Acrobat Pro, or do you need it infrequently? Acrobat Pro is available at two scanning stations behind the LTS Help Desk in the EWFM Library; one scanning station at Linderman; and in the Digital Media Studio in EWFM Library.
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