A Bout of Presentation Formats: PDF as an Alternative to PowerPoint

It seems that the PDF format has been challenged left, right and centre from many vantage points - its format, its appearance, its proprietary, its portability, the list goes on. There always seems to be some other format that wins over the PDF in all of these categories, inspiring the question of "when do I use PDF and when do I use (enter technology name here)?" Sound familiar?

Courageously enough, the PDF has held its ground against attacks and challenges. Even against threats of being "replaced" by new technologies which boast aspects that don't deal with the PDF's immediate purpose. One thing the PDF should be able to do is step up to the duel grounds and throw a white silk glove before its opponents. Thus, PDF says, "En Garde".

Winner of The Universal Format Championship

While most file formats are better than the PDF for their editing capabilities, the Portable Document Format’s universal viewability is the feature that trumps them all. The ability of any user to view the PDF exactly as it shows on any other device and platform is certainly extremely valuable, especially since the trend of switching from paper to digital documentation is rapidly growing. Everyone needs a universal file that is shareable across different devices and platforms.

The PDF as a Presentation Format

The fact that it can be presented anywhere, regardless of the type of device and operating system a person is using, makes PDF an ideal presentation format. However, there’s more to the Portable Document Format than just its universal features. Here are some of its other attributes and options that make it a great alternative to popular presentation formats such as MS PowerPoint.


Some PDF software have the option of creating accessible PDFs that can be accessed by anyone, including people with disabilities. Creating a tagged PDF allows you to customize a PDF for added viewing functions such as keyboard control, read aloud options, higher visibility etc. for accessibility. You can manipulate these features, though, to enhance the interactivity of your PDF presentation.

Visual appearance

You can use the PDF to create a slideshow by using the full screen mode. With some applications, you can even set the page conversion settings for transitions, opening directly into slideshow mode, and automatic looping.

In addition, you can create your PDF presentation using an authoring application of your choice to better convey different numerical, visual or technical ideas, and then convert it to PDF for better viewing - it's just that easy. Use a projector or a central computer screen for communal or individual viewing.

Online resources

Some PowerPoint presentations already exist in the PDF format on the Internet. The format is ideal for individual viewing and researching for brief, concise information. These online resources in PDF can contain attachments and comments that provide supplementary information essential to the viewing of the presentation, so the viewers don't miss out on what an absent presenter might have covered.


MS PowerPoint is a proprietary software and not everyone may have the Microsoft PowerPoint application on their computers. It's more likely that they’ll have the Adobe Reader installed. PDF becomes a great free alternative to solving such paid software issues.

There are more versatile uses to which the PDF can be put. The only way to find them is through experimentation, manipulation and innovation. The PDF won't "replace" the PowerPoint format, it only provides another sound alternative. Not only is it easy to use, but it's also practical. So, no matter how many challenges other formats present to the Portable Document Format, the PDF is here to stay!