The Truth Behind 4 Common PDF Facts

Magnifying Glass View

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Although the PDF is now a common digital format in almost all aspects of our habits online (sharing, downloading, and emailing), there is still a lot about the PDF format that we tend to gloss over and generalize.

Whether you know it or not, a lot of general facts about the PDF format are usually taken out of context or misunderstood altogether.  The PDF format is constantly improving and changing.  Thus, what we know about the format has to change as well if we are to use the format effectively.

That being said, here are a few brief clarifications on the most common PDF facts we all know.

Everyone Can View And Access PDF Files

When we say that PDF files can be viewed by everyone and on every platform, what we don’t often mention is that there are exceptions.  More specifically, if your file recipients have visual impairments or physical disabilities, reading and navigating your PDF content with a mouse is next to impossible for them.

PDFs that can truly be viewed by everyone—including users with disabilities, are accessible PDF documents that are tagged.  A structurally tagged PDF can work with assistive devices like screen readers, allowing users to have PDFs read out loud to them.  To ensure your PDF is up to par, consult the PDF/UA standard which provides an official guideline on how to generate PDFs that everyone can access.

PDF Content Can’t Be Edited Or Modified 

A true fact, but there are two sides to this. First and foremost, PDFs are meant to ensure that its content stays intact. It’s a locked down format that protects against unwanted modification.  But if you ever tried, then you know that you can perform some edits to a PDF to a certain extent if you have the right PDF tool or if the assigned PDF permissions allow.

Editing Content Photo Credit: Nic’s events via photopin cc

For example, you can modify PDF files:  extract pages, merge or split PDFs, edit PDF metadata, add bookmarks or even headers and footers.  In other cases, you can add digital signatures, fill out PDF forms, add annotations, and notes. Also, if allowed, basic text copying should be done via PDF tools to prevent formatting issues.  Though for legit and drastic edits or content re-purposing, you’re better off performing full PDF conversions instead. PDF content itself isn’t meant to be freely edited like a Word document, but you can take some liberties.

PDF Files Can Only Contain Text And Images

Because the format is generally known as a file format to use for professional purposes, there’s this assumption that PDFs are boring, that they can only be used for text and images. Nothing can be further from the truth.

They’re actually great containers for compelling content.  In fact, though usually advised against for the sake of file sizes, multimedia PDF files are perfect for promotional material or e-brochures. They can include animations, audio, video, and even interactive elements. So next time you need something creative, you can add the PDF format to your list of tools. With a bit of creativity and the right media, you can improve your content ten- fold.

PDF Files Are Naturally Secure

Because the PDF format adds a layer of security over your content, we usually tend to think that it’s automatically impenetrable.  But if you quickly publish a PDF on the web thinking your content is protected against plagiarism, think again.  If indexed by Google, users can select the “View as HTML” option or click to view it in a browser with a built-in PDF viewer, like Firefox. Your content is then up for grabs.

Securing Technology

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To prevent that from happening, always add advanced security options on content you want to share, but keep control over. Include encryption, watermarks and even PDF passwords so you can specify exactly what users can or cannot do with the file. Remember, your PDF file is only as secure as you make it.

Were you already aware of the fine print behind these major PDF facts? What are some others you’ve come across?

 

5 Creative Ways To Search The Web

Web Search Tips

Searching the web on Google is always the number one go-to solution for finding help online. And although its last update (aka Hummingbird) focused on a smarter way of finding results, it is still possible (and frustrating) to go beyond the third page of your search results. Not a very valuable use of your time.

As productivity advocates, we’re always looking for more efficient ways of doing things—even searching the web.  So for this post we’ll break down some quick basic tips (some of which you may already be doing) when you’re ready to give up on Google.

1. Use Content Specific Search Engines

Helpful when….: You’re looking for a specific type of format.

Why: Google offers a number of search results based on type: news, web pages, images, and file formats. Although Google operators can produce results right down to the file format, there are search engines that can offer efficient searches.

Search Benefits: Content specific search engines will give you a highly focused collection of results in contrast to the endless pages of results from Google. Moreover, they come equipped with search filters that further narrow down your hunt.

Tools: There are a number of handy online tools that can help you search for PDF documents, PowerPoint presentations online, or archived webpages. Also, you can find search tools for photos and even third party tools for searching through Flickr.

2. Search By Finding Similar Sites

Search For Similar Images Photo Credit: therichbrooks via photopin cc

Helpful when…: You want to familiarize yourself with a new subject, genre or field.

Why: When you want to learn about something, you’re first step is to find information on the topic and then find websites that cover the subject. If you’re looking for sites on something like fitness, seeking out influential websites in the industry will give you the lay of the land, connecting you to other authoritative sources in that niche.

Search Benefits: When you search like this, your results are pared down to highly related sites instead having to sift through individual articles and web pages.

Tools: Similarsites.com and SimilarWeb.com are a couple of tools that can help you with this type of search. They’re designed to work with thousands of sites that have already been indexed and rated on relevancy by users.

3. Search For Answers By Asking Users

Helpful when….: You have specific questions or only have broad ideas.

Why: When you have a general question your first instinct is to type it out in Google and see what comes up. But when asking a question, you’re looking for general guidance first (“What can I find on this topic?”) or specific information (computer and hardware specs). A better way to finding results is in asking directly in forums, communities, and groups.

Search Benefits: Users in communities and forums can give you one-on-one advice. This beats having to refer to 5 articles on one topic. In addition, you get answers, insights, and hidden details based from personal experience which some general posts may miss.

Tools: Try communities that are active and that attract credible users. Try sites like Quora, for instance, where you get to ask professionals from different industries for their expertise. There are also Google+ communities full of users who are generous with their time and help. Start off with a forum directory like Zetaboards.com to find the right forum for you.

4. Use Social Media, Aggregators & Real Time Search

 Social Media Search

Helpful when…:  You want quick, updated information on a topic.

Why: The power of social media is hard to deny. On social media networks, everyone is sharing a link, comment, or insight on anything and everything–including posts on the topic you’re researching.

Search Benefits: Social networks are extremely powerful with their search features. Searches on popular networks like Google+, Facebook, and Twitter are easily tailored to find posts, users, or hashtags. Using these networks as your search engine, you can zero in on real time posts. In addition, you can get a contextual grasp on any given topic at the moment based on the sentiments of the posters.

Tools: Besides using the social networks themselves, social media aggregators and real time search engines can help. Tools like Alltop, PopURLS,and  SocialMention, will offer you a quick bird’s eye view of current trends. Just type in your search terms and you’re off.

5. Use Websites & Blogs

Helpful when…: You need to find related resources.

Why: When you’re online, you may already have a natural compulsion to click through to other sites from an article you’re reading. Because blogs and websites link out to sites and sources that complement their own content, you can slowly build up a good resource.

Search Benefits: When you consciously practice this as a search method, it could mean that if you start with one quality web site you can find 5 other links that may be helpful. Granted, there are some spammy sites out there. But given that Google has cracked down on bad linking behaviour and has encouraged websites to link to relevant sources in their blog rolls, this type of search method should be a safe bet.

Tools: To find a good quality site to start you off, visit Technorati, the most credible blog directory online.

As an added bonus, you can combine these tips to get even better results. So while Google is the number one tool when it comes to search,  it isn’t the only one you have to resort to!

How Able2Extract Works With Your Document Management System

Document-management-able2extract

In the world of technology, there’s no escaping the digital document and everything that comes with it—the PDF format included.  Professionals with all sorts of working backgrounds have at one point or another dealt with the file format.  No doubt, leveraging a system that can handle a mass number of PDF files effectively is at the top of every company’s list.

Document Management Systems

As a solution, your company probably relies on a central document management system that allows employees to access and share multiple files effortlessly. It can be implemented internally through a corporate server or externally through third party services.

Both methods, of course, have their advantages. Where enterprise server systems allow for secured control access and monitoring, third party systems can be more resource efficient. In either case, you have a digital filing cabinet that can store documents, spreadsheets, and more importantly PDF files.

Uses Of The PDF format

The advantages of PDF documents has evolved drastically over the years, providing users a secure and professional solution at the document level. It already plays a major role in every department:

  • Accounts Payable and Receivable: PDFs are used for handling key documents including invoice exporting, distributing contracts, and accessing pre-purchase documents.
  • Sales and Purchasing: Agents keep records of purchase orders, send out registration forms, and collect and process data for the company.  All are kept in the PDF format.
  • Marketing:  Distributing brochures, product literature, and information to clients.
  • Customer Service: Managing client information, customer accounts, billing and receipts.
  • B2B Correspondence:  Discussing important documents in review, distributing company forms, and exchanging business proposals in secured PDF files.

It’s apparent that PDF files can cause difficulties between departments that, more often than not, work in conjunction with one another.  Thus, employees who need to work with the same stored and trapped content, but in different ways, need to consider how they can do so in an efficient manner.

Able2Extract & Your Document Management System

Think about it. How would you instantly take the PDF data your department needed, edit it, and integrate it back into the system completely processed and as needed?

Quick makeshift solutions can turn a simple task, like extracting text, into a major problem.  You’ll always need to reformat, realign and rearrange the data, wasting valuable time and resources. With every tool you seek out, you want one that lets you work seamlessly with files and systems already in place.

Able2Extract provides an intuitive way of converting PDF documents, minus the high cost, complex integration, and the steep learning curve. Here’s a closer look at how you can extend your workflow and get the most out of it:

Instant PDF conversion—Spend more time on analyzing data. Conversion is reduced to a 3-step process. Open your file, select the content to convert, click on the conversion output desired.

Content Editing—Able2Extract is designed for general content repurposing in mind. You get conversion options that are suitable to each format, whether it be Word or Excel.

Data manipulation—For professionals in data intensive work environments, Able2Extract can convert only the data you want, not the redundant data you don’t.

Document Collaboration—With more than more than 10 PDF conversion options, Able2Extract eases the document collaboration process and accommodates any format conversion needed by individual workers.

Invoice Data Analysis—Able2Extract’s custom PDF to Excel conversion gives users the control and flexibility to convert and manipulate PDF data at the cell level.

This flexibility enables you to work with information the way you need to and get the most out of your conversions.  For more information, check out the quick start guide to get a closer look at Able2Extract.
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How To Create A Printable Valentine’s Day PDF Coupon Booklet With Sonic

It’s always tough coming up with the perfect gift for our loved ones, especially around Valentine’s Day when generic chocolate boxes and teddy bears take the spotlight. Have you found that ideal gift yet?

If not and you’re thinking of gifting something creative and genuine this year, a Valentine’s Day coupon booklet might just be the thing you’re looking for.

The idea behind this concept is to customize each coupon with actions  and treats that others can “cash in” on. The more you know the person, the more meaningful your coupon gift can be.  So if your significant other hates a certain chore, you can create a coupon offering to do it for them. It’s a great (free) way to give a personal gift that keeps on giving!

Valentine printable gift

Getting them into a PDF booklet is just a handy way of getting them in a format you can save and instantly print up and give out.  But you may find it difficult to get the formatting just right for a printable book.   An easy way to do this is by using the Create Booklet feature in Sonic.

It can create and format a booklet from regular PDF files intended for professional print and assembly, like brochures and pamphlets.  And we can certainly use the feature for basic DIY booklet projects like this one.

Creating A Simple Printable PDF Booklet

You’ll first need to generate your coupons, which calls for  a bit of careful thinking.  To help here are a few ideas to get you going:

  • Offer coupons for your kids to stay up for one hour or to get some extra dessert
  • Spouses who are always fixing things around the house  can offer to handle the next household disaster
  • Boyfriends can include coupons to sit in on a chick flick with their girlfriends
  • For friends, how about a coupon to buy the next round of drinks?

After you have your  ideas, you can create your own coupons from scratch in Microsoft Office Word with text boxes and a bit of formatting.  We used a Word template because of its simplicity.  We customized the text, added some fine print, and saved it to our computer.

Valentine Coupon Template

Our template only offered 2 coupons per page, so we used 8 of them, customized each, and batch converted them. We then merged all the PDFs to get a single 8 page PDF with 16 coupons for this tutorial.

When you have your own file ready to go:

1) In Sonic, use the Create PDF From File command to browse, select and convert your MS Word to PDF.

2) Click on the Create Booklet option

Create PDF Booklet Sonic

3) Select your options.

i) For a basic booklet, select Landscape mode and LETTER sized paper.

Sonic Create Booklet options

ii) Under Scale, select Auto. Ensure Proportionally is selected.

iii) Leave the Margins default settings to leave room for any personalizations you’ll want to add in after it’s printed.

iv) For Binding Type, select Book. Set the Sheets per Fold setting at 4.  This works for an 8 page PDF with 2 coupons per page. It combines 2 pages onto one, allowing you to bind the pages at the centre. When folded, you get single-sided coupons which are perfect for cutting out.

Valentine Sonic booklet layout

v) Crop Marks and Bleed Allowance can be left to their default values.

4) Add any other elements that are appropriate:

  • Add a secure PDF password to keep the PDF coupons secure and prevent any other print outs.
  • If there’s no set expiration date, add a watermark down the length of each page first to keep track of them.
  • Go back and add a cover page to the booklet. Insert a blank page you can stamp an image on or add a page from another PDF.

5) Save the PDF booklet to your computer, print it out, and bind the pages.

Here’s what ours looked like, fresh off the printer with the above settings and an added cover page. As you can see, you’ll have a lot of freedom to jazz it up in your own style:

Printed Valentine PDF Booklet

If you haven’t used the feature yet, now is a good time to get acquainted with it. So go ahead and start in on your own booklet.  No doubt, you’ll have a lot of original and thoughtful coupons to generate.

Main Photo Credit: Patricia Mellin via photopin cc

Able2Extract PDF Converter Now Has A LinkedIn Showcase Page!

Able2Extract-LinkedIn-Showcase

We’re excited to announce that we just another great place where you can catch up and get to know Able2Extract:  LinkedIn Showcase.

You may be wondering with all the other networks we’re on, what a LinkedIn Showcase page has to offer. Well, LinkedIn Showcase pages offer a way for LinkedIn users to engage on a more personal level with businesses and services that matter to them.

LinkedIn Showcase: What to Expect

And this is what we’re planning for our Able2Extract LinkedIn Showcase page.  We’ll share reviews written by bloggers, usage tips, and discussion posts where you can fully voice your own opinions and feedback.

We’ll also post handy information as a general FYI to get a full picture of the PDF format and Able2Extract in context.  It’s a great network to learn everything you wanted to know.

Not only that, but to ensure that we offer you an Able2Extract resource you can really use,  we’ll be updating the page with related topics that matter to you and the industries you work in.  We’ll offer suggestions on how you can put Able2Extract to better use in your day to day routine.

And ultimately, we want to hear from you–what do you want in a PDF tool and what matters to you?

So if you’re on LinkedIn, drop by, join in and get to know Able2Extract on another level!