PDFs are making a comeback: Here’s what you need to know


The Portable Document File (PDF) format was introduced in the early 1990s. Since then, contemporaneous software and hardware — the Netscape web browser, the Pine email system, and dial-up modems — have all but disappeared. The humble PDF, however, has stuck around and, despite some ups and downs, is making a comeback.

PDFs can be equally liberating and maddening. Yes, it’s great to have “fixed” document formatting that is identical across multiple devices and software. At the same time, the inherently static nature of PDFs can make them frustrating to work with.

Today there are new tools that allow for automated PDF creation, fillable PDF forms, easy file format conversion, and much more. Even better, editing PDFs has never been simpler, thanks to JotForm’s PDF Editor.

Pros and cons of PDFs

The ability of PDFs to render documents the same way across multiple platforms and software is a major benefit. In addition, creating documents that typically can’t be edited is also useful when information needs to be distributed without being altered. At the same time, the text in PDFs is fully searchable — unlike when saving a document as an image — and PDFs can be optimized to reduce file size.    

Some common issues with PDFs, however, can trip up even the most experienced users. One problem is using low-resolution images, which can look fuzzy in a PDF. In addition, incorrectly setting up a document’s dimensions or its margins and bleeds will cause viewing and printing issues.

Using JotForm PDF Editor

Today’s PDF comeback is due in large part to tools that address the issues noted above. That’s why JotForm’s drag-and-drop PDF Editor is a powerful addition to every design toolbox and company workflow.

1. Automatically generate a PDF using an online form

Making one PDF of a document — for example, work order or job application — is not that time-consuming. Having to do dozens or hundreds a day becomes a job unto itself.

With JotForm, information collected using online forms can automatically be converted to PDFs. Individualized PDFs can also be created for different recipients, such as accounting, human resources, and service departments.

Participants in training sessions can enter their names online and immediately receive a customized PDF certificate of completion. This will save a significant amount of time.      

2. Create a fillable PDF

Making standardized forms available as PDFs is incredibly useful. At the same time, it can be time-consuming to wait for people to download and print these forms, fill them out by hand, make copies for themselves, and send them back to you.

Today, you can include fillable fields in PDFs. No more deciphering illegible handwriting on job applications. Now applicants can fill out a PDF form. Or if employees need to sign off on new company policy, they can do this with a fillable PDF form, and then return it to HR while keeping a copy for themselves, all digitally.

3. Convert a PDF to other formats

Saving a document — especially one that is only one page — as an image is often seen as a viable shortcut to using a PDF. After all, when it’s viewed, it will look essentially the same as a PDF. Problems arise, however, when converting this information back into an editable format.

Though a PDF has fixed formatting, it can be saved to other file formats such as Microsoft Word or Rich Text Format (RTF) for editing. Plus, images can be easily extracted from a PDF as opposed to using a screenshot snipping tool on an image. And, if a document must be saved as an image, a PDF can quickly be converted into one.

4. Add a signature to a PDF

Sometimes, the only change you need to make to a document like a contract, proposal, or tax form is adding a signature. Once again, it will be time-consuming to mail a hard copy or even email a PDF as an attachment and wait for the recipient to sign it by hand and return it.

Now, it’s easy to add an electronic signature to a PDF. This provides quicker turnaround and lower transaction costs, plus added security. An electronic signature is more secure than a physical one as alterations are easier to detect because of the additional digital data points.

Take advantage of the PDF’s comeback

Netscape browsers and dial-up modems won’t — hopefully! — be making a comeback anytime soon. PDFs, however, are here to stay. That’s why it’s critical to take advantage of all the features that come with a robust PDF editor. Learning how to edit a PDF will be easier than ever before with the JotForm PDF Editor.


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