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What Does PDF Stand For?

The term PDF is often thrown around in schools, offices, and even online, and you may be asking the question, what is a PDF? What does PDF stand for? And why all the buzz surrounding it? 

In literal terms, PDF stands for Portable Document Format. So, whenever you hear people use the term PDF, remember what it stands for because people who use it mostly know it as a file format without knowing what it stands for and its true concept.


What is a PDF File?


Next to the question, what does a PDF stand for? Do you know what a PDF file is, and what qualifies a file to be termed PDF?

A PDF file is a read-only document with features that makes it easy to read, secure, compress, and store.

Files encoded as PDF encompasses all kinds of data, including graphics, text, images, and audio. Unlike Word documents, PDF files display documents how they appear on the printer.

Adobe initiated the creation of PDF, and the format was released in the early 1990s but later re-released as an open standard in 2008. 

With the introduction of PDF, Adobe systems aimed to achieve two results; the first was the desire to create documents that can be accessed on any hardware or OS. This made it possible to open a PDF with a PDF reader or browser, using a Mac or a PC.

The second objective for creating a PDF was to ensure that the layout of a document looked the same wherever it was opened. For example, if you noticed that your word file’s formatting looked different when opened on another computer, the PDF was introduced to mitigate such occurrences.

There are many cases where using a PDF is best, such as in creating offline content, Whitepapers, Ebooks, reports, reviews, and other numerous documentation purposes.

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Creating A PDF


The creation of a PDF file is relatively easy. You may choose to use any program that allows you to print a file because any such program will most certainly let you save a file in PDF.

For instance, if you want to create a PDF file using Word processor, type the document and select “save as” or press F12, then choose PDF in the file format options when the Save As pop-up appears.

This technique applies when you want to save a scanned document as PDF in Photoshop and similar programs. Once you have scanned the document, easily select and save it as a PDF file from the formats provided.

Creating PDF Files on Web Pages

One of the ways to create a PDF is also on an open webpage. You can do this using your favorite browser, depending on your OS. For example, Firefox works best if you are using Mac, and with Adobe Acrobat, you can select the Convert Web to PDF option and type in the link.

If you don’t have Adobe Acrobat, using FormatPDF.com website, you can do the same action.

However, if your browser is Chrome, hit Ctrl + P or go to print settings in the setting menu. As soon as the window opens, under destination, select Change, and an option to Save as PDF will appear. The printing window will change immediately after you pick that option.

After you have applied these changes for both Mac and PC, ensure to select Save so that the changes you made can be applied. Also, the steps for Chrome users apply to other browsers too.

Creating PDF on Webpages for Mobile Devices

To save a webpage as PDF using mobile browsers, follow a different process. For example, on iOS, select the Share button (the button in your toolbar with an arrow pointing upwards enclosed in a square-like figure) when you open the webpage, and a pop-up menu of download options will open. Once you see this, select the options to Save PDF to iBooks, select it, and wait for the PD to save and launch in iBooks.

For Android users, simply follow a similar process but copy and paste the URL. However, if you want to get your file into PDF format hurriedly, you can forgo these steps and download apps that can convert web pages to PDF files.

Benefits of PDF

  • Graphic Consistency: To best answer the question, what does a PDF stand for? First, it is prudent to point out that PDF remains one of the file formats that retain graphic integrity. No matter what OS, browser, or device you use, a PDF will display the same content in the same layout.
  • All-Inclusive: The PDF is the only format that allows for various content types, including text, images, videos, GIFs, audio files, 3D models, hyperlinks, buttons, vector graphics, interactive fields, etc. All these elements can be contained simultaneously within the same PDF files as a report, presentation, portfolio, or review.
  • Convenient: PDFs are very convenient to use as they are easy to create and can be used and read by almost everyone.
  • Secure: The ability to password-lock a PDF is another excellent attribute that further answers what does PDF mean. PDF offers the option to put up different levels of access for document protection apart from passwords such as watermarks and digital signatures.
  • Compact: Although PDFs can theoretically contain unlimited information, they can be compressed into a file size that is easy to exchange and handle while retaining complete control over the level of image quality.

Editing a PDF


The PDF was created as an exchange format for documents to preserve and secure the content and layout of a document no matter which platform it is opened on. Because of this, PDFs are hard to edit, and extracting information from them is sometimes problematic.

However, online editors like FormatPDF mentioned above, exist to assist with editing a PDF by performing tasks such as merging, rotating, splitting, numbering pages, deleting pages, etc.

These online editors work by basically printing objects on top of an existing PDF, enabling users to perform common tasks and make small changes without altering the document’s original content.

So, in answering the question, what does PDF stand for? It is an innovative read-only file format that is highly beneficial in creating, storing, and sharing documents. Despite its limitations, there are many gains to saving documents as PDFs online and offline. 

About the author

Atish Ranjan

Atish Ranjan is an established and independent voice dedicated to providing you unique, well researched and original information from the field of technology, SEO, social media, and blogging.

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