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Portable Document Format (PDF) is a file format used to present documents in a manner independent of application software, hardware, and operating systems. Each PDF file encapsulates a complete description of a fixed-layout flat document, including the text, fonts, graphics, and other information needed to display it
One night while working late writing invoices, you realize there has to be a better way. Something more efficient than writing each invoice by hand. You need a template that lets you fill in all the key information, like the due date and your terms of payment. Things that you don’t want to forget when it’s seven thirty at night and your stomach is growling for dinner while you finish that last invoice.
You can jump online and Google up a bunch of invoice templates, or use helpful bookkeeping software. However, while you’re deciding between Google Docs, Microsoft Word and LessAccounting, consider the benefits of saving and sending your invoices as PDFs.
PDF stands for “Portable Document Format.” Generally, a PDF is an electronic image of a document that you can send, store and read, but not modify. The advantage of PDFs is that they work across devices that use different operating systems and even different word-processing software.
If you work in a common word processor like Microsoft Word, you can save your invoice as a PDF. But how do your clients read the PDFs you send them? Adobe Reader and Adobe Acrobat are the most well known PDF readers, but there is also PDF-XChange Viewer, Foxit Reader, Sumatra Viewer and more.
Okay, you and your client need to download a reader to work with PDFs. But the many advantages of PDFs outweigh that small inconvenience. Remember, PDFs are portable across operating systems and devices, so you can read them on your phone, tablet, and computer.
Many PDFs are searchable, and come with their fonts embedded so the copy you receive will look just like the original. Also, you can compress PDFs for sending as attachments, usually without much loss of quality.
From a security standpoint, PDFs allow you to set a password to prevent unwanted users from copying or printing your content. And you can use the digital signature feature to ensure that users know you’re the author of the document.
If you use Dropbox, remember that Apple products support the PDF file format, but that Dropbox allows you to open PDFs by exporting them out to your preferred application.
So when you decide to organize your invoices with a favorite template, consider the PDF file format and what its flexibility can do for you and your clients.