What Does PDF Stand For?

What does PDF stand for?
What does PDF stand for?

If you spend much time working with computers you have probably run across the acronym PDF, but what does PDF stand for? It’s pretty straight forward really; PDF stands for Portable Document Format. The Portable Document Format is a proprietary format of Adobe Systems, but it has become the defacto standard for electronic document sharing.


The PDF format is elegant in concept in that you can take virtually any 2D document and convert it into a PDF that can then be shared with anyone so long as they have the free Adobe Acrobat reader. Most computers include the Adobe reader as part of the default software package that is pre-installed on new machines. For those that don’t already have the Adobe reader, free downloads are available.

Creating a PDF is also very easy as most software capable of producing documents offer a save as function that will save any file as a PDF. The PDF format is capable of including all manner of text, vector graphics, and nearly all other image formats. PDF files do not encode information specifically to any given hardware, software, or operating system that is used to publish or view the file. This allows any valid PDF to render the same no matter the origin or the destination of the document.


Adobe is fairly open with this standard and they do not require royalties for either the creation or the viewing of a PDF document. This is certainly one of the reasons that the format has become such a standard on the web. These days, it is common to find e-books that are only published as a PDF, and are only distributed in that format. Additionally, many government agencies are offering archival material in the format, broadening the opportunities for anyone to engage in meaningful research and education.

Another major benefit of the PDF is the sheer ease of use. As mentioned, PDF files may be published out of most application software packages. Generally speaking, once published into the PDF format, the document will look identical to that of the native format. From Excel files, to Project plans, the file then becomes fully portable, and the recipient of the file will have the ability to view the file just as if they have the native application that produced the file.

As outstanding as the PDF format can be, it is not without its limitations. While the format does allow for full transportability, it can be a challenge to edit those files. The Adobe Acrobat application does offer a full suite of edit tools, but it obviously cannot offer all of the functionality of the various software applications from which the PDF may be created. As a result, many files that have been converted to PDF are essentially uneditable in that format. This can be somewhat frustrating for the end user of a given document, but the benefits of portability, nearly always outweigh the associated editing challenges. So the functionality that goes along with it.next time you ask the question "what does PDF stand for?", you will know both the acronym and all of the

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