PDF: PDF stands for Portable Document Format. Developed by Adobe Systems in the early 1990s, it is a universal file format. Its specifications have been available since 1993, but it was technically a proprietary format until 2008.

PDF files (which end in the .pdf file extension) were developed for the purpose of sharing formatted text and images across operating systems. Despite its slow initial adoption, PDFs are now in widespread use because they allow for a document to look identical regardless of the respective operating systems, video hardware or software of the originating and end viewer’s computers. For example, a user who creates a document in Microsoft Word and wants to share it with someone using a Mac could convert the .docx file into a .pdf to ensure the second user could view it exactly as intended.

The settings of PDFs can be adjusted such that editing is enabled or disabled. Form-fillable PDFs, which allow users to type in specific fields within a document, are popular with any organization that submits or accepts documents online.

PDF copies of books or manuals are frequently distributed either in addition to or in place of printed materials. PDFs are also popular in the design industry because of their consistency and print-friendly nature. Logos, infographics and even newspaper layouts created in Adobe InDesign and Adobe Illustrator are commonly converted to PDFs before being sent to the printer.