Learning Centers

"PDF Online 101" - A Crash Course

April 01, 2004


Editor's Note: This article is part of the Introduction to Acrobat & PDF Learning Center

Jakob Nielsen's recent diatribe against PDF for online viewing did strike a nerve among PDF developers. That's too bad. Since he incorrectly ascribes the problems he identifies to the PDF format rather than the authorship, Nielsen misses his own point. The only real culprits (and it is ever so, no matter the format) are the authors - and the attention authors pay to ease of use considerations. Ignoring this vital distinction, Nielsen does his readers no favors.

The following guidelines for PDF authoring may not help you entirely avoid Nielsen's evil eye, but the vast majority of your users and readers will be thankful nonetheless. Take good care of your PDFs when you make them, and everyone who ever uses the file will thank you for your consideration.

  • If the document is very long, offer "chapter" or "article" PDFs in addition to a single file for the entire document.
  • If you add bookmarks, congratulations! You are an educated PDF publisher! Then ... make SURE you set the PDF Inital View to show "Bookmarks Panel and Page". Otherwise most users will have no idea they are there at all.
  • Files greater than 10 pages in length should ideally include bookmarks.
  • Files greater than 20 pages in length MUST include bookmarks, or your readers will be unappreciatively stuck flipping pages.
  • Include web links on your PDFs to return to your Web site. 99.9% of PDF files do NOT include this feature.
  • Avoid 2 (or more) column text on your documents unless absolutely necessary. If you do use more than 1 column, consider the Article Threads feature to ensure easier readability.
  • Always indicate the size of the file so users can make an informed decision about downloading it.
  • Always ensure that files are "Optimized for Fast Web View" (exception: files containing form-fields shoud NOT be optomized for Fast Web View.)
  • Ensure that the server hosting the files supports Fast Web View. Most do automatically.
  • Ensure the file is as small as possible. PDF files are frequently WAY overweight.
PDF In-Depth Free Product Trials Ubiquitous PDF

Debenu Quick PDF Library

Get products to market faster with this amazing PDF developer SDK. Over 900 functions and an equally...

Download free demo

Five visions of a PDF Day

In the world of PDFs or as we like to say Planet (of) PDF, a year isn't a real PDF year without an intense few days of industry knowledge sharing.

May 15, 2018
Platinum Sponsor

Search Planet PDF
more searching options...
Planet PDF Newsletter
Most Popular Articles
Featured Product

Debenu PDF Aerialist

The ultimate plug-in for Adobe Acrobat. Advanced splitting, merging, stamping, bookmarking, and link control. Take Acrobat to the next level.


Adding a PDF Stamp Comment

OK, so you want to stamp your document. Maybe you need to give reviewers some advice about the document's status or sensitivity. This tip from author Ted Padova demonstrates how to add stamps with the Stamp Tool along with related comments.