PDFs Versus Word Documents: Which one should you use?

Should you save your next business file as a Microsoft Word document or as a PDF? Whether you’re writing a report, or drafting an article, odds are you’re using Microsoft Word to do so. It is the most popular word processing software out there. When you’re done writing the document, you no doubt save the file as a Microsoft Word document. But should you stop there? Should you also make a PDF? Why do some people go a step further and choose to save files as PDFs?  It helps to understand a little more about PDFs and their purpose.

 PDF stands for Portable Document Format. It’s a file format used to present and exchange documents, independent of software, hardware, or an operating system. PDFs were created by Adobe. Adobe co-founder Dr. John Warnock started The Camelot Project in 1991 with the goal of being able to capture documents from any application, send electronic versions of these documents anywhere, and view and print them on any machine. From this project, the PDF was born.

 How is a PDF different from a Word document? To save something as a Microsoft Word document, it must be created in Microsoft Word.  As for a PDF, virtually any file can be saved as a PDF, no matter if you’ve created it in Word, Publisher, Excel, PowerPoint, Adobe InDesign or Illustrator, just to name a few. To create the PDF, you will need to purchase the Adobe Acrobat program. But the beauty of a PDF is that the document can be viewed and printed from any device using free Adobe Reader software. To view and create a Microsoft Word document with full features, you must have Microsoft Office installed on your computer, which does come with a price tag.

 PDFs aren’t replacements for Word documents. When you first draft your document, you’ll want to use Microsoft Word, as it has many tools to help you do so. Saving it as a Word document is also smart if you ever plan to make edits to it. The best time to use a PDF is when you’ve finalized the document and you want to send it to someone else. Saving it as a PDF ensures all the components of your Word document (pictures, font, etc.) look exactly the way they’re supposed to on someone else’s computer. You can also secure PDFs so that they can’t be edited by anyone else. This is perfect for sending legal documents to someone to review (and not edit); then they can even electronically sign the PDF document and send it back. E-books are also found in PDF form, as are design documents sent to professional printers.

 If you have a backlog of printed documents that should be backed up, converting them to PDFs could be the perfect solution; getting rid of all that paper while retaining the documents you need. Stevens & Stevens can help with the process by scanning the hard copies of your documents into digital PDFs. These PDFs can easily be searched for keywords, making it easy to find the important business information you need. Not only will it free up space in your office, it will make any potential tracking or auditing easier as well. Learn more about our scanning solutions by clicking here.

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