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 About Acrobat Reader and PDF

PDF stands for "Portable Document Format." It is a technology developed by Adobe Inc., based on a language called Postscript that is commonly used for archiving documents. There are two advantages to using PDF. First, PDF preserves the original format of the document almost exactly. Fonts, photos, graphics, and layout all appear as they do in the original document. This means that documents can be electronically saved, viewed, and distributed that look just like the originals, unlike documents that have been converted to the hypertext markup language (html) for viewing on the world wide web.

The second advantage is that documents described in Postscript are device-independent. This means that anyone with the right software using Apple Macintosh, Microsoft Windows, Windows NT, Sun, and Hewlett Packard workstations can view any PDF document. In addition, files that are described in Postscript can be printed on any printer that speaks the Postscript language, regardless of what kind of computer is connected to the printer. Likewise, regardless of what type of computer creates a PDF file, it can be viewed on any computer with Adobe Acrobat software.

In order to view PDF files, you must use PDF-reading software. Fortunately, the PDF reader software is free! The Acrobat Reader is available for many platforms. The full documentation is available at the Adobe Web site. You can download the Adobe Acrobat Reader version of your choice directly from this page.

The Reader can read any PDF document, whether it's embedded in a word processing document or a web page. Once the Reader is installed, it works seamlessly with your web browser (if you have a recent version), in other words, there's no jumping back and forth between programs. In addition, the software will allow you to begin viewing the document before it has finished downloading, much the same way as Real Audio software begins playing a sound file as soon as it has enough of the file to play.

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