sharing documents: in praise of PDF

Dominik Wujastyk ucgadkw at UCL.AC.UK
Tue Jan 8 16:02:37 UTC 2002

I've just received a document from a colleague, and been through the all
too familiar process of trying and failing to open it with several
different word processing tools.  I renamed it several times, tried it
with different programs, and finally got it to open as a WordPerfect
document.  Then all the accents were wrong.

It is no longer necessary for us to inflict these experiences on each

May I say a few words in praise of the PDF format.  PDF ("Portable
Document Format") was invented by Adobe as a sort of "Postscript Lite"
format.  It has many virtues.  Adobe's website ( offers a
free, downloadable program called "Acrobat Reader" for manipulating PDF
files.  With Reader, you can view, print, search, and cut-and-paste from a
PDF document.

There are several ways to create a PDF document.  The most easy for many
people is to buy Adobe's full Acrobat package.  This simply allows you to
save your Word (or whatever) document as a PDF file.  But there are a
number of free programs around for making PDFs too (even online:  Ghostscript makes PDFs easily, out of PS files
(which most wordprocessors can write).  TeX makes PDF files, needless to
say (pdfTeX).

The best thing is that if you can see accents or fonts, etc. on your
screen when you create documents, then when you make a PDF, all that
information goes into the PDF too.  So when your correspondent opens the
file, they see all the correct accents, Devanagari, or whatever.  They
don't have to do anything, install anything, or muck around in any way.
Click: and presto, there's the file.  Try this:

If you have had trouble sharing your Sanskrit documents in the past,
please give consideration to using PDF.


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