What You Need to Know About the PDF File Format

There’s a three-letter word that continuously changes the digital world today – PDF. PDF means a portable document file. Its portability makes the most vital works happen. It’s a hassle-free way of creating, viewing, and sending files across all devices and platforms. One can seamlessly share a lawn mower manual or magazine cover using PDF files. But not everyone knows the magic behind it. Here, let’s discover what you need to know about the PDF file format.

During the early 1990s, Mac, MS-DOS, UNIX, and Windows had their ways of interpreting files. So, it wasn’t easy to move documents from one operating system to another. Adobe co-founder Dr. John Warnock then formed the Camelot Project. The project’s goal is to find a solution to enable a seamless exchange of information between machines and systems. They want a file that will look the same wherever it goes. In 1992, the Camelot project revolutionized the paper-to-digital transfer with the launch of PDF files. As of 2019, more than 250 million PDFs were opened yearly.

What is a PDF File Format?

A PDF file format is an Adobe reader file which cannot be modified when saved but can be easily printed and shared. They can be viewed on Windows or Mac OS using the free Acrobat Reader DC software. A PDF file may contain:

  • audio;
  • business logic;
  • buttons;
  • form fields;
  • links;

A file in PDF format contains a file extension of .pdf. To save an existing file in PDF format, choose the “Save as” in the File tab of a document, and click PDF on the “Save as Type box.” Any saved PDF file can’t be converted back into the original file type unless you use specialized software.

Since 2007, it has adopted an open standard under the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). As a standardized format, you can open a PDF file through several apps:

  • Adobe Acrobat Reader
  • Third-Party apps
  • Web Browsers
  • Word Processing Apps

PDF file formats are now replacing paper documents in different U.S. offices. Online users can sign a PDF file format electronically. You can do these by opening a PDF file format using the Adobe Acrobat Reader. Look for the sign icon within the top toolbar. The sign icon looks like the nib of a pen. You can also select the fill and sign option under tools. Both ways open up the signature panel. Select “Me” when you receive a prompt of who’ll be signing. You’ll then see blue fields that you can fill out as needed. Find the spot where you need to sign, click the sign icon again then put your e-signature. You can put your e-signature by sketching via a mouse or trackpad. Or, you can upload a photo of your signature.

What Files Can be Converted into PDF?

 The following file extensions and types can be converted into a PDF file format:

File Extensions File Type
.xlsx Microsoft Excel
.doc, .docx Microsoft Word
.rtf Rich Text File

An Adobe Acrobat PDF pack subscription allows you to further convert the following file extensions and types into a PDF file format:

Supported File Extensions File Type
.ai Adobe Illustrator
.indd Adobe InDesign
.psd Adobe Photoshop
.bmp, .gif, .jpeg, .jpg, .png, .tif, .tiff Image file formats
.ppt, .pptx Microsoft PowerPoint
.txt Text file
.form Fill & Sign Form Format

If you have an existing PDF file, a subscription to an Adobe PDF pack allows you to convert your PDF into the following file extensions and type:

Supported File Extensions File Type
.xlsx Microsoft Excel
.pptx Microsoft PowerPoint
.doc, .docx Microsoft Word
.rtf Rich Text Format
.jpg, .png, .tiff Image file formats

Please note that the Adobe PDF pack subscription can only convert files up to 100 MB.

Ways to Edit a PDF File Format

You think looking for a free logo maker online no watermark is difficult? Try editing a non-editable PDF format.

The original PDF file formats are larger and can only be viewed using a special PDF viewer. They also don’t support external hyperlinks. Over time, functional improvements were made. It’s still hard to make changes to a PDF because they weren’t designed for editing.

The good news is, there are now ways to edit a PDF file.

Use Adobe Acrobat. Open a PDF file in Adobe Acrobat and select the “Edit PDF” tool in the right pane. Click the part of the document that you like to edit. You’ll then see a display of all editing options to format the document.

Use Google Docs. Upload the PDF file format you want to edit in your Google Drive. Once uploaded, open the file with Google Docs. You can then edit such a file in Google Docs and download it as a PDF once edited.

Use Microsoft Word. The latest version of Microsoft Word (2013 and up) allows editing of a PDF file format. Open a Microsoft Word program and from there, open the PDF file you want to edit. Click OK when you receive a prompt that Word will convert your PDF to an editable document. You can now start editing the file as a Word document. Once done, you can save the modified document in PDF file format.

Use a PDF Editor. A PDF editor is an online tool that allows editing of a PDF file format. Using a PDF editor, you can:

  • add or change the images and text;
  • fill up a PDF form;
  • sign the document.

There are some PDF editors that you can open on your web browser to do the editing. Here is a list of the best free pdf editor you can find online:

  • PDFescape
  • PDFSam Basic
  • PDF-XChange Editor
  • Sejda
  • Smallpdf

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