Posts in Category "Understanding the PDF Format"

Acrobat and PDF Clones: What you should know . . .

Chances are if you are on a legal technology listserve or read blogs, you’ll hear about alternatives to Acrobat. Apparently, you can do everything with these alternative products that you can do with Acrobat for $29!

Sadly, the legal market seems especially amenable to these messages. Cheaper is better, right?

Now, there are some clones that have even started to state that they are better legal tools than Acrobat.

I’ve updated this blog entry originally written in 2005, with more up-to-date information and some downloads.

Read on to learn more . .

Maybe not . . .

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Is that PDF Searchable?

Most law firms and even solos have a scanner that can create PDF from paper documents. Overwhelmingly, these devices create image-only, non-searchable PDFs.

Using Optical Character Recognition (OCR), Acrobat can add an invisible layer of searchable text while maintaining the original appearance.

The resulting searchable file is referred to as an image+text PDF.

An image+text PDF looks no different than a PDF which is not searchable. That creates a problem.

How can you tell if a PDF is searchable or not?

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Understanding Tagged (Structured) PDF

Since version 5 of Acrobat, PDFs have the capability of having structure . . . aka tagging.

What is tagged PDF? Why is important?

Tagging is closely aligned with accessibility for the visually impaired, but it offers many other benefits for any PDF user.

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Understanding “Flavors” of PDF

Most people know that Acrobat files can contain a variety of types of information: text, images, and OCR’d information.

Each of these is a “flavor” of PDF with different capabilities and issues. PDF flavors are behind some oft-heard questions I receive such as:

  • Why isn’t this PDF searchable?
  • Why is this PDF 50K and this one is 10K?
  • Why does this PDF print slowly?
  • Why does this PDF look funny on screen?
  • Why can’t I select text from this PDF?

Not all PDFs are created equal. Some PDFs are more usable or offer benefits that other typed do no.

I’ll examine the different flavors below and make some recommendations.

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