pt3 subject areas technology tools learning environment

There are many considerations when sharing documents over the Internet. To reduce some of the frustrations, consider using a tool for "universal document exchange." For example, with Adobe Acrobat you can publish virtually any document in Portable Document Format (PDF). Anyone with the freeware Adobe Acrobat Reader software can view your document. The advantage of PDF is that it preserves the look and content of the original including the fonts, colors, and graphics. The documents are small and easy to distribute.
They can be shared by email or stored on a web server, network server, hard drive, or CD for others to use across platforms (such as Windows, Mac, UNIX). Although some software provides the option to "save as a PDF" file, the Adobe Acrobat software provides an easy way to manipulate and convert practically any type of file to PDF.
Reading PDF Files. If you just want to read PDF files, you can download free reader software. If you don't have the Adobe Acrobat software, download the Abode Acrobat Reader software. This will allow you to read documents that you download or view on the web.
Exploring PDF. Try out your reader software on some websites that provide resources in a PDF format: Inspiration 6 Basics, Online Class Activities, Government Documents, and Free Ebooks. Ask yourself the following questions as you explore the documents:
  • What support do they provide for downloading the Adobe Reader software?
  • What directions do they provide?
  • How do they introduce the links?
  • What other information do they provide such as the document name, size, and description?
Designing PDF Documents. If you're interested in designing PDF documents, you can read articles at the Adobe Acrobat site. Read the PDF document titled, How to Create Adobe PDF Files for eBooks if you want to create a book that contains a table of contents, thumbnails, etc. A few areas to consider in designing your document include:
  • The PDFWriter is used for converting simple documents such as Microsoft Word and Excel. For example, the Geese document was made from Microsoft Word.
  • The Adobe Distiller is used for converting complex documents such as PageMaker and QuarkXPress. For example, the Web Whacker document was made from PageMaker.
  • Acrobat has three job options: ScreenOptimized (will look best on the screen), PrintOptimized (will look good on screen or printed), and PressOptimized (is intended to be printed).
  • Acrobat can be used to create forms, add bookmarks, and combine documents.
  • Be sure to include good directions for downloading the Adobe Acrobat Reader and the PDF file.
  • Read Adobe Acrobat to learn how to create PDF files using the "Drag and Drop" method.
Advantages and Disadvantages. There are pros and cons of using PDF files for sharing documents.
  • Pros
    • The Adobe Acrobat Reader software is easy to download and use.
    • The documents are small in size.
    • The fonts, colors, and graphics look like the original document.
    • Overcome software and platform incompatibility.
  • Cons
    • The Adobe Acrobat Reader software must be downloaded.
    • You need to convert the documents to PDF.
    • The documents can't be edited, although forms can be completed by end users.

Making the Decision to Use PDF. When making the decision whether or not to use the PDF format, consider the following issues:

  • PDF it if...
    • you want the user to have a high quality file with the same fonts, colors, and graphics as the original.
    • you want the user to complete a form, but not manipulate the rest of the document.
    • you want a document that can easily be read off the screen and printer in high quality.
    • you want a document that is small in size and easy to share.
    • you want a document that is can be viewed cross-platform.
  • Don't PDF it if...
    • you want to keep it very simple. You have the hassle of converting the file and downloading the reader software.
    • you want the user to edit the document. Instead, create the document in a shared application such as Microsoft Word.
    • you don't care about formatting or printing. Instead, just create a web page.
Final Thoughts. PDF has become a very standard format. Most computers already have the Adobe Acrobat Reader downloaded, so it's easy to user PDF documents.

Use the following off-site resources to learn more about PDF files:



Funding for this project was provided through a grant from Preparing Tomorrow's Teachers to Use Technology (PT3) from the US Department of Education.
Principal Investigators
Dr. Berhane Teclehaimanot, Principal Investigator & Assistant Professor, College of Education

Created 2/03. Last Updated 4/06.