What is a PDF File Format? Everything You Should Know

Nowadays, you will see PDFs everywhere in educational and professional settings. No other file format has gained so much popularity because of its inability to retain layout and fonts on different devices. However, PDFs maintain the flow of information no matter which software or device you use to read the document. For those who don’t know what is a PDF, it is a versatile file format introduced to facilitate easy sharing and reading.

The universality of this file format is thanks to the features it provides to share and archive files without losing formatting. Let’s dig deep into this article to understand what is a PDF document and how you can use this format in your professional life.

Try It Free

* Moblie version is coming soon

Part 1. A Brief Overview of PDF Format

When talking about what is a PDF file, we can say that it is a portable document format introduced by Adobe to allow users to view digital information conveniently. Now, users can view, print, and share information in a way that was impossible before the introduction of this file format.

As mentioned, this format gained popularity among users due to its ability to retain layout settings over multiple devices. Some of the most common features of PDF files are explained below:

  1. These documents can include interactive elements, such as hyperlinks and form fields.
  2. Users can utilize this file format to view and read digital information on any software or device.
  3. PDF documents have the capability to retain formatting to ensure text and visual elements appear in the file, as originally intended.
  4. You can apply security features, including passwords and encryption settings, to preserve your files from unauthorized access.

Part 2. Major Benefits of Using PDF Files

Upon going through the above section, you have completely understood the PDF file format and its history. Now, it is time to shift the focus of our discussion toward what is a PDF file used for. You should read the points explained below to understand the benefits of this advanced file format:

  1. Universality and Compatibility:As we know, PDFs are platform-independent file formats that can be viewed on any operating system you want. So, this universality of the PDF format allows users to get rid of any compatibility issues they may face while using other formats. Moreover, this format is supported by various applications, which makes it suitable for professional collaboration.
  2. Security and Document Integrity:Users can protect their sensitive information with the help of password-protection supported by the PDF format. In addition, you can encrypt files and add digital signatures to affirm the integrity of your document content. All these features make PDFs ideal for legal documents and contracts containing sensitive information.
  3. Preserved Formatting: After learning about what is a PDF document,we know that this format can preserve the layout of the files without any issue. Other than that, it can maintain the original formatting of the document text, fonts, and images on different devices. Therefore, you can make use of this file format in professional settings where preserving the appearance and structure of data is necessary.
  4. Compressed File Size: While sharing large documents, you can face issues due to the file size of integrated images and other elements. However, PDF allows you to reduce the file size without losing quality to facilitate easy sharing and archiving.

Part 3. What are the Best Applications for PDF Format?

Once you have analyzed the general benefits of PDF, let’s move forward to discuss some specific use cases of this file format. For this purpose, go through the major applications given below to understand what a PDF file is used for:

1. Business and Corporate

Most professionals utilize PDF documents for contracts, NDAs, and other legal documents to preserve their integrity with digital signatures and encryption. PDFs also maintain the formatting of the files across multiple devices and software so they can be used for sharing financial reports and business presentations.

2. Education Sector

Teachers make use of the PDF formats to distribute textbooks, research papers, and lecture notes. So, students can access all this study material on their device without having to purchase the physical copies. In addition, students are required to submit their assignments in the PDF file format due to its ability to retain formatting and layout.

3. Healthcare

Upon understanding what does a PDF mean, we now know its importance in sharing and archiving medical data. Doctors utilize PDF files to deliver lab reports and diagnostic images to the patient without the need for the physical visit. Moreover, healthcare providers distribute informational brochures in PDF format to ensure that patients receive unaltered information.

4. Publishing and Graphic Design

You can get print-ready files using PDF, so publishers and designers prefer to save their final copies in this format. Moreover, these files preserve the layout of images and fonts, which make PDF the best format for printing magazines and brochures. Also, graphic designers utilize the PDF format to showcase their portfolio in a professional manner.

5. Government and Public Sector

Usually, governments use PDFs to share and store official documents and public notices. In addition, this file format proves to be valuable in archiving important public sector records and documents. As PDFs can easily be searched and indexed, they are perfect for storing government files.

Part 4. Challenges and Limitations Associated with PDFs

While PDFs offer several advantages, this file format has some drawbacks that we will discuss in this section. To better comprehend what is a PDF, analyze the major limitations of this file format:

  1. Editing Complexity: Compared to Word or Google Docs, PDF files will cause issues when you want to edit the information. For this purpose, you may need to utilize third-party tools to make edits within the PDF document.
  2. Compatibility Issues:Newer versions of PDF files include features such as interactive elements and embedded multimedia that older PDF readers do not support. Such incompatibility issues make it challenging to open PDF files in outdated software.
  3. Accessibility Limitations: People with disabilities will face difficulties in consuming PDF content even while using screen readers. As the text in a scanned PDF may not be extracted properly, it will become difficult for a screen reader to navigate through the content.
  4. Large File Size:When a PDF file contains high-resolution images and detailed graphics, the resultant file size can go out of control. Therefore, you may face limitations while sharing or uploading such documents on different online platforms.

Part 5. Enhance Your PDF Editing Experience with the AI-powered Best Editor

As we have discussed, you need to download and utilize third-party software to make changes to the PDF files. For this purpose, Afirstsoft PDF Editor should be your go-to choice because of its advanced editing feature. Using this tool, you can change the font style and size to meet the demand of the professional or government sector.

Moreover, users get the option to adjust the color and alignment of the PDF text with this tool. With this PDF editor, you can also crop or resize the images present in the PDF file to improve its presentation.

In addition, this tool allows you to change the background images and colors to personalize your documents. With its advanced features, this PDF editing software will transform the way your document looks.

Part 6. How Do AI and Machine Learning Impact the Future of PDFs?

Throughout this article, we have discussed what is a PDF file and its major role in different professional industries. Now, we will move forward to talk about the future implications of this file format that can revolutionize the way we consume digital information.

Most PDF editors have already integrated AI assistance into their tools to help users better comprehend PDF content. People also expect them to add advanced AI editing and text extraction features to optimize document content consumption. Tech experts are also speculating on the use of VR technology to let users read PDF files in a more immersive environment.

In addition, such an advancement will help users interact with PDF documents during virtual meetings. We can also expect a better integration of PDF files with cloud services to improve real-time communication.

Try It Free

* Moblie version is coming soon


After reading this detailed guide, you have understood everything related to PDFs. You now know the significant benefits and some specific use cases of this efficient file format. Moreover, this article has clarified the role of this file format in document creation and sharing. In addition, we have familiarized you with a few limitations of this format to help you better comprehend what a PDF file is used for.

Most importantly, you are now aware of the best PDF editor for personalizing document content. With its advanced text and image editing features, Afirstsoft PDF Editor emerges as the best option for users of every kind. So, we recommend you get your hands on this PDF editing tool to customize the PDF files without any hassle.

John Smith


With 10 years of experience in the office industry, John Smith is a tech enthusiast and seasoned copywriter. He likes sharing insightful product reviews, comparisons, and etc.

View all Articles >