The use of digital documents in any use case aims to reduce the expenses of stationary and speed up the exchange of information with others via the internet. In this regard, PDF by Adobe and Word DOC by Microsoft are two of the most widely used formats for digital documents. Each format has its own strengths and weaknesses. To get the best of both formats, users often convert PDF to Word and back.
Microsoft Word is popular word processing program that allows creation and formatting of several different types of documents ranging from business correspondences, business cards, brochures, newsletters, reports and more. The format used by Microsoft Word to save documents is the DOC format (.doc or .docx). The software also provides the users tools for proof-reading such as spell checker and grammar checker. This format is mostly used where the content of the document needs to be reused, edited or formatted quickly and frequently. However their ease of reusability and editing makes them unsuitable for binding documents like contracts and agreements and legal proof in courts.
The Portable Document Format or PDF can be used to share documents, forms, images, vector graphics, scans and encoded web pages with others. The PDF format is ideal for exchanging files and documents between because it can store metadata within the document itself. This means that the layout, fonts, content, color etc. of the document are retained while sharing and are not dependent on the user’s computer to display correctly. It is also ideal for archiving and long term electronic storage as it can be made compact using compression algorithms. But the most prominent advantage of PDF documents is that they can be secured so that they can only be read and not edited. This makes them an ideal choice for online content, business documents and legal documents as well. One way to secure a PDF is to lock it. A PDF lock is a method for restricting access to the data encoded into the PDF document. This can be achieved using encryption used in combination with user identification codes, network address checks and machine address checks.
PDFs are typically locked to prevent unauthorized copying, editing or printing of the document. This is a desirable functionality as it prevents the misuse of the information in the PDF document. However, PDF documents are not easy to edit and require sophisticated software for editing and formatting. Consider the example of Start Contract, an online contract management platform. It can be used to draft legal contracts and electronically sign them while collaborating with several users simultaneously. Say a user receives a locked PDF document. To be able to read, edit, copy or print the document, the user will have to unlock it. There are several ways to unlock such PDFs. The simplest method is to input the required password to unlock the document. If the password is not known, then a software can be used to unlock the PDF. There are several online web services and softwares available that provide this functionality along with a host of other features.
PDF and Word have been in competition for the position of the best electronic document format. But when used in conjunction with each other, they complete all the different and diverse requirements of users.