PDF: what is it and why?
While HTML is great for displaying information on the Web site or Intranet, it is not very structured and is not the best choice for producing online manuals and booklets that require rigid text formatting.
PDF is the de facto standard for electronic distribution of documents because it is the best way to keep the look and feel you created, intact. PDF files are compact, cross platform and can be viewed by anyone with a free Acrobat Reader. And you can create PDF files from any application using Adobe Acrobat 3.0+, even directly from paper!
Additional benefits of using PDF:
Reading PDF Files
If you don't already have the free Adobe Acrobat Reader software and want to view PDF files, you'll have to download it. This reader is available free of charge from the Adobe Acrobat Download Page.
Once you've downloaded and installed the Acrobat Reader, you'll be able to view PDF files simply by clicking on the link to the PDF file in your browser. Either the browser will handle the PDF file, or it will bring up another program for viewing the PDF file. Either way, a special window will appear that contains buttons that work only for PDF files. Use these buttons to navigate through the file. If you're having trouble, visit the Adobe Acrobat Reader help site for more information.
Reading PDF in a Web browser
A PDF document on the Web can be displayed in a Web browser compatible with Netscape Navigator 3.0 or higher or Internet Explorer 3.0 or higher.
Setting up an Acrobat viewer as a helper application
If your Web browser does not support inline viewing of PDF documents or if you prefer not to view PDF inline, you can set up an Acrobat viewer as a helper application with your browser's preferences. With the viewer set up as a helper, the viewer will launch and display any PDF file linked on the Web.
To set up your browser to recognize PDF files, you must define a MIME type and a file type. File type should be pdf. MIME type should be application/pdf. See your browser's documentation or Adobe Acrobat Support for information about configuring specific Web browsers.
Printing PDF Files From Your Web Browser
Many of the File and Edit menu items in your Web browser work as they do in other applications.
First, choose File > Print or press the Print button in the toolbar.
Second, a print dialog box lets you select printing options and being printing.
On Windows, you can choose File > Print Preview to see a screen display of a printed page.
Printing PDF Files From Acrobat Reader
First, select the print options you want by using the File > Print Setup (Windows and UNIX) or Page Setup (Macintosh) command. When you are ready to print, choose File > Print.
Acrobat Reader offers a Shrink to Fit print option not available with other applications. Shrink to Fit shrinks (and if necessary) rotates oversized pages to fit on the paper size correctly loaded in your printer.
Subscribe to the URI Web Publishing Blog for latest news, tips, resources and tools related to web technologies.
Subscribe to URIWEB-L Listserv to keep informed of ideas on web-related issues on campus.