Portable Document Format

trademark (abbr. PDF) A file format developed by Adobe Systems that can be used to distribute formatted output, including text and graphics, from a variety of applications to users working on a variety of platforms.


The PDF format can be created using a variety of authoring tools, including Acrobat. The format can be read using the freely distributed Adobe Reader (previously called Acrobat Reader), which is both a stand-alone application and a plug-in for browsers. PDF is not perfectly platform-independent as it requires a reader to render the file, although reader software exists for most platforms. PDF-A is an extension of the format intended to be appropriate for the long-term preservation of digital documents.