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How to make PDFs fit for human consumption…

1 Oct 2008 | | No Comment

Michael Cartwright of Solid Documents provides some remedies for Jacon Nielson’s suggestion that PDF is unfit for human consumption in his recent article at Planet PDF, “Make PDF Files Web-Friendly“.

Jacob says that PDFs are difficult to navigate, have long download times, and formatting problems.

Cartwright counters by saying that you should use PDF files when providing a document primarily intended for print — and make it clear to the user that they are accessing a PDF file by using gateway pages and new browser windows.

He also says that you should discourage search engines from directly indexing PDF content as well as ensuring your PDFs are optimized for web-ready download.

I would agree with most of Cartwright’s suggestions, although I do think PDFs are quite effective for documents you intend to distribute, but not print. Examples of these would be those which support features such as digital signatures, document security and interactive features such as electronic forms with JavaScript.

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