Teaching and Learning with Technology

Computing With Accents and Foreign Scripts

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PDF Files

P.D.F. files are useful for under-supported scripts or for cases when there is difficulty transferring the content to HTML.

The Technique

P.D.F. (Portable Document Format) format files are readable and printable to all users, regardless of what fonts may be installed on their computer. Adobe Acrobat can be used to convert files composed in a word-processor or other program

Tools Needed

When to Use It

PDF's are excellent for undersupported scripts.

They preserve a great detail in formatting & graphic information and you can use a wide variety of fonts and the appearance will remain intact for all users. PDF's may be a good solution for developers with a large archive of foreign-language documents in word-processing format.

On the other hand, PDF's are not necessarily properly encoded.

Potential Pitfalls

PDF technology is widely used and supported by the Penn State community, but here are a few minor quirks to look out for.

  1. Once files are in PDF format, they are difficult to edit. Always keep the original text file on hand, in case you need to make changes.
  2. PDF files are difficult to make accessible for blind users. Therefore use is recommended primarily for undersupport scripts where appropriate fonts may not be easily available.
  3. Not all fonts are "licensed" for PDF's. In these cases you need to find a similar font which is licensed.
  4. PDF files must be downloaded onto the user's machine. If they are large, they may be slow to download over a modem connection. Many Web sites list file sizes, so users are aware of potentially long download times.
  5. Students with screen readers should use the most recent versions of Acrobat Reader since they have more accessibility features.
  6. Inform users that you have PDF files and that they need access to Acrobat Reader.

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Last Modified: Tuesday, 28-Mar-2017 15:50:09 EDT