In this article, we want to share with you some of our favourite features to enhance PDF files to make them work harder for you.

PDF files are in essence digital brochures, reports or documents that can really come alive with the use of interactivity and multimedia and, depending on what you want your audience to do, there are different formats that work best.

Fillable forms and e-signatures

PDFs are great when it comes to making (and converting) forms that you need your audience to fill in. The spaces on the PDF become clickable and you can enter information as necessary. The document is then saved and returned for processing. No more printing and scanning!

For e-signatures, Adobe Acrobat has the Adobe Sign tool which enables signatures to be collected as approval or confirmation within PDFs.

Quick navigating through publications

By creating page links within a PDF, you make it easy for your audience to get to the content they’re most interested in very quickly and avoids having to scroll through long documents. This is ideal for pieces with lots of different sections, from brand guidelines to product or service catalogues. The content page becomes one big navigation page that directs the reader to the right place.

Member Directory for AVCA – the main navigation acts as quick links to different sections

External links

The same technique can also be used for creating interesting links to external sources such as more detailed pages on your website. Maybe  your brochure PDF could link to the team page on your website to ensure the content delivered is always up-to-date? The key is think through what information is key and what is additional that could be clicked, if required.

Enhancing PDFs with video, audio and image slideshows

While it’s possible to create publications with audio and video in a pdf format, for it to work well, it relies on your end user having Adobe Acrobat on the device that they open your document on.

For example, when viewing a pdf on your mobile, have you noticed the different app options that come up for opening it? If it’s not Adobe Acrobat, chances are, when you open the pdf, functions such as slideshows, videos and audio may not work reliably.

The alternative is to use the ePUB format. This is a type of eBook, and is more likely to retain its features when opened with various apps – the default on iOS is to open with iBooks, on Android there is Google Play Books, and others such as Adobe Digital Editions which can be used on Mac, Windows, and is an app for iOS and Android. An additional point to note with ePUB formats is that any fonts used need a special license specifically for use in e-books.

We hope this has provided inspiration to think beyond static PDF pages but also realise that there are still some limitations with advanced interactivity. As usual, please do not hesitate to get in touch if you'd like to know more.