When Not To Use PDFs

Sometimes people overdo PDF usage on web sites.  PDFs are great for long documents, treatises, white papers and other such material.  Even books are great in PDF format.  However, it is easy to carry PDFs too far on a web page.



Web pages should flow and there is nothing worse than having to open a lot of PDF documents whose content is better situated to being displayed within the web page.  Excessive use of PDF documents also destroys the look and feel of a web site.  It also presents a less than ideal way to navigate back and forth between the PDF and web pages.

By using a lot of PDF files in place of content placed directly on the web pages, the reader will experience a discontinuity in browsing through the content.

Do not use a PDF when web content can do the job more effectively.  PDF files, on the average, take a lot longer to download and open than a web page does.

Using your browser’s search function and embedded search engines in a web site will not search through the content of PDF files.  This makes searching the site for desired content rather frustrating.

Unless you have mobile device templates for your PDF files, mobile users will have problems navigating through your site.

Do not use links to PDF files in your web site without identifying them as opening up a PDF file.  “Click here for PDF” or “Usage Report(PDF)” should suffice to identify such links.  If people are using slow broadband or dial-up connections, they may opt not to download the PDF or download it at a later time.

Be thoughtful in your PDF usage in web pages.


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