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Are All PDF Files The Same?

Today, Portable Document Format (PDF) files are used more than ever. And the architecture/engineering/construction (AEC) market is no exception. With Adobe Reader® software being freely available for every computer, PDF has become the ubiquitous file format for electronically distributing, viewing and printing all types of data and information. Most reprographers report that PDF files have become the most common file type being received from their customers. However, not all PDF files are the same. Adobe Acrobat® software and PDF files have been around since 1993.

Over the years, Adobe has created many versions of Acrobat software, adding new features and expanding the functionality in many directions. PDF files can contain text, drawings, video, 3D models, scans, full-color graphics, photos and hyperlinks. There are tools for book marking, adding markups and comments, creating electronic forms, adding security and digitally signing documents. With each new version of Adobe Acrobat software came a new PDF version to support the new features. Plus, there are numerous third party PDF creation applications, which when added into the equation give even more variation. And you thought all PDF files were alike!

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Adobe originally released Adobe Acrobat software as a tool for creating and viewing PDF files in 1993. The idea behind Adobe Acrobat and the Portable Document Format (PDF) was to create a file format that could represent documents independent of the application software, operating system and hardware that was used to create them and of the output devices that are used to display or print them. A properly created PDF file should contain all the information required to view the document on any computer or to print the document to any printer.

Adobe Acrobat software and PDF file-formats have been continuously updated and expanded upon over the years. To date, there have been nine major releases of Adobe Acrobat software and the PDF file specification. In addition, there have been several standards created to address the needs of certain markets. The PDF/A standard defines specifications for long term archiving of PDF documents. Another emerging standard for exchange of engineering documents is PDF/E. The graphic arts industry defined the PDF/X standards (there are more than one) to insure reliable print ready files. The main reason for creating these standards was to combat the growing variations in the PDF file format.

So why is it important to know that all these PDF versions exist? Because certain PDF versions print more consistently than others, and there are specific features that might be used in a PDF file that will greatly affect processing speed and printing accuracy.

Creating and printing PDF files without an understanding of all their nuances can create challenges and delays. Why do some files print perfectly while others don't? Why do some files take longer to process than others?

To learn more about PDF Printing, download the Free PDF Printing Explained White Paper.

PDF Printing Explained for the AEC Market - Tips and Tricks to Optimize Your PDF Files for Printing

Resource Center Home Tips for Printing Adobe PDF Documents

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