PDF Files

What is PDF

Increasingly, files of the most diverse types have been converted to PDF ( P ortable D ocument F ormat defined by abbreviationfinder). Thanks to the internet, it has become possible and necessary to distribute and exchange electronic documents between individuals and companies and, at this point, PDF technology is the most predominant. This article will show you a bit of the history of this format, why it has become so popular and how you can convert files of various types to PDF format.

How the PDF format appeared

PDF came about thanks to the efforts of one of the founders of Adobe Systems, John Warnock. The initial idea was to create a technology that would allow the visualization of files in any computer, independent of platform, and that could be printed in any printer.

PDF technology was eventually released based on PostScript technology. The first version of the PDF was officially released in 1993, consisting of two programs: Acrobat and Reader. The first allows you to create PDFs from another file, while the second is a PDF file viewer and is distributed for free (the first version of Reader was paid for).

How PDF technology works

PDF is a type of file that represents on the computer screen pages of electronic documents. It is possible to convert to PDF several types of files, from text based to documents with tables, graphics, images, etc. For this, PDF generates files using the essential principles of PostScript technology, which is a kind of language used to constitute pages for the most diverse purposes.

In general, it is possible to convert to PDF any file that can be printed. It is at this point that there is usually confusion. Most programs that convert files to PDF format work as follows: you install the software on your computer and it will be listed as a printer. So when you want to convert a file to PDF, you should open it through the program that manipulates it, go to the print functions and select the program there. Then just click the Print button and the file will be printed in PDF format.

See this example to better understand: a free PDFCreator program was installed on a Windows computer to generate PDF files (there are several programs for this purpose but the best known is Adobe Acrobat). When it is installed, it “adds” to the list of printers on the computer, as shown in the following figure:

Notice that the program installed as if it were a printer. From there, in every program where you can print, simply select the PDF printer (rather than a real printer) that it will convert the file in question to that format. In our example, we will use the Paint.NET program and print a tofography to PDF. To do this, the image was loaded into the program and then the print feature was triggered in File / Print. The Paint.NET uses the Windows printing wizard that asks which printer to choose:

Depending on the program, a screen similar to the one shown below will appear:

After selecting the printer (in our case, PDFCreator), simply follow the steps below, give the file a name in PDF and click Save. The following figure shows the PDF being displayed by the Adobe Reader program:

What allows PDF to work with multiple file formats is not quite compatible with related programs, but rather work with the format that is sent to printers. When you have your computer print a file, the data is transmitted to the printer in a way that prints the file as closely as possible to the electronic version. In a rough way, it’s as if your computer takes a picture from the file and sends it to the printer in a way she understands. What the PDF does is just capture this “photo from the file” and instead of printing on paper, it prints in an electronic visualization format.

With the evolution of PDF technology, it is possible that it works accurately with figures, links, sources and even with sound and video files. It all depends on the program that generates the PDF file. Acrobat Reader, for example, can work seamlessly with several well-known programs, especially with the Microsoft Office line. By working together with other programs, you can make the generated PDF file more compact, for better viewing and more faithful to the original version.

Something important to mention is that PDF can distinguish fonts for the use of texts. Thus, in conversion, it does not necessarily treat the texts in the file as if they were an image. Instead, PDF recognizes the text and tries to format it as closely as possible to the source file. That’s why some PDF files come out different than the original version. If you use a specific font in the file, it must be installed on the destination computer, otherwise the font of the text may be different. To handle this, you can embed fonts and other resources into the PDF file before its generation. Just explore the features of the program you use.

Currently, there are other ways to create a PDF file, but the method that works as a printer is the most common. It is worth emphasizing that PDF files can be generated and read on any platform (Linux, Mac, Windows, etc).

When a file is converted to PDF, all its content is made available as if it were an image. Thus, the format does not allow the texts to be altered, pictures are taken or even the file is printed (the latter requires enabling this feature in the generator program). It is even possible to edit PDF files with the help of PDF generator programs, but in a very limited way (as long as the file has no protection features). This is one of the reasons for the popularity of this format: it is possible to distribute documents maintaining the integrity of the files, including formatting, font patterns, etc. Because of this, the PDF format is also widely used for electronic book distribution.

The PDF format is so secure that it is even difficult to corrupt it. In addition, when converting a file to PDF, it is compressed. Thus, files that are 1 MB in size can be 100 or 200 KB. Because it is not a “heavy” format, the distribution of PDF files over the Internet has already become commonplace. Companies that need to make their financial statements available, for example, usually do this using the PDF format.


PDF technology has become a standard for document delivery, primarily for enabling file integrity and efficient compression. Another point of great influence is the fact that people work with the most different types of programs. The variety is so great that it is impossible for a person to have all the software installed on their computer. Imagine the following situation: an individual uses a text-editing program developed by the company in which they work and needs to send a report to a particular person. This person, however, uses only OpenOffice.org for Linux, which does not read files from that company’s program. To resolve the issue and deliver the report,

Thanks to all these advantages, the PDF format is increasingly popular. So much so that today it is even possible to integrate sound and video files into PDF documents. At a time when the spread of viruses and other digital pests is increasing, PDF is the right choice for document exchange, after all it even has an advantage: it is practically impossible to add viruses or malicious programs to PDF files.