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portable document format: a format in which documents may be viewed
PDF Is a Superset of Adobe PostScript
PDF is often the preferred file format for sending documents to commercial print houses. If the commercial printer uses PDF imagesetters, no conversion is necessary. If it uses only PostScript hardware, the PDF files are converted to PostScript first. See PostScript.
The "Portable" in PDF - Font Design Freedom
PDFs solved a chronic problem, in which the target computer may not have all the fonts specified in a document. For a graphic artist, font selection is an important part of page design, but, in the past, only basic fonts were chosen to ensure they were available in every user's computer.
In contrast, PDF files do not rely on the fonts installed in the user's computer. Document designers are free to choose whichever fonts they have at their disposal, and those fonts are embedded within the PDF document. Because the fonts are not distributed for general use, they do not violate copyrights and patents. Most importantly for designers, the page will render correctly on any computer with PDF software; essentially every computer. See PDF/X and font incompatibility.
Adobe Acrobat Reader (formerly Adobe Reader) is Adobe's free download for displaying and printing PDF files, and hundreds of millions of users have downloaded this software from www.adobe.com. Acrobat Reader lets you view and print PDF files, but not create or edit them.
Create/Edit and Export To
PDF files can be created with Adobe's Acrobat software, which can convert documents created in Microsoft Office and other popular programs. While Acrobat allows editing of any PDF file, many applications can export (save) to PDF, and there are numerous stand-alone utilities that convert documents to PDF. Windows 10 added a "print to PDF" option, which saves whatever the user might print to a PDF file. See PDF/A, PDF/X, WWF, PostScript, DjVu and XML Paper Specification.