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A Quick Look at the PDF File Extension

File extensions are the short suffixes that appear after the filename. They are used to indicate the file type. In their early use, file extensions were used to indicate the generic type of a file. For example, .txt was used for a text file, and file extension .gfx for a graphics file. 

A Quick Look at the PDF File Extension


The PDF, or portable document format, is one of the most powerful types of documents in use today.  Converting an existing document to PDF format allows users to view the file no matter what type of software they have on their computers.  The only software needed to open a PDF file is the free Adobe Reader, a program that is easily available and free to download from the Adobe website.


Another advantage of the PDF file is the fact that they are so easy to create.  Computer users who have access to the full version of Adobe Acrobat can easily create a PDF file by using the built in features of this powerful program.  It should be noted that the full version of Adobe Acrobat, unlike the reader, is a pay program, but many businesses use this program so you may already have access to it.


In addition to the full version of Adobe Acrobat there are a number of free programs that allow users to convert just about any type of file, including Word documents, Excel spreadsheets and even Power Point applications to PDF documents.  These free and low cost programs can be a great way to make your proprietary files available to users around the country and around the world.  While users would ordinarily need to have Microsoft Office installed on their PCs in order to read a Word document or Excel spreadsheet, with PDF files those users can open files even without Microsoft Office.


Of course there are some limitations to using PDF format, most notably the fact that the users who receive them will not be able to edit those files. While users who have the full version of Adobe Acrobat on their systems may have some limited editing capabilities, for the most part those PDF files will be read only.  Depending on the nature of the files and how they will be used this can be either a good thing or a bad thing, but it is important for both the sender and the recipient to be aware of this limitation.


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