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Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF)

What is PDF?

PDF is a file format that retains a document's true formatting across platforms and is useful for documents with complex formatting such as newsletters or financial statements. PDF files can be viewed and printed exactly as the author intended using a free PDF file reader.

Download a free PDF file viewer

Without a PDF file viewer, you will not be able to view or print PDF files. Many web browsers do not already have a PDF file viewer installed.

PDFs and accessibility

PDF files are not accessible to many users that rely on screen readers. While Adobe Acrobat Standard or Professional offers the ability to create accessible PDF files, it requires that the document contain real text and is marked up for accessibility. To view the accessible file the user must have Acrobat Reader.

For PDF files that are not accessible, Adobe offers an online PDF conversion to HTML.

For more information about PDFs and accessibility, see the links below:

Creating PDFs

Although Adobe's free Acrobat Reader can be used to view PDF files, Adobe sells the software used to create PDF files. You cannot create PDF files with Acrobat Reader, Ghostscript, or Xpdf.

Accessibility standards state that a webpage that requires a plug-in or other form of software to render page content must provide a link to the software or plug-in needed. This webpage has been developed specifically for K-Staters to point to when a PDF file is linked.

Here's an example of how to link a PDF file:
This Organizational Chart (PDF) shows the complete university hierarchy.


All applets, scripts and plug-ins (including PDF and PowerPoint files, etc.) and the content within them are accessible to assistive technologies, or else an alternative means of accessing equivalent content is provided. 

A PDF file can be made accessible to screen reader users, but it may be best to include an accessible HTML version of a document instead of or in addition to PDF. Accessible alternatives must be provided for PowerPoint files.