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Portable Document Format (PDF)

Portable Document Format (PDF) files are an ubiquitous way to package and share documents. The format was introduced in 1993 by Adobe Systems and remained a closed proprietary format (but free to use) until released as an open standard in 2008.

The PDF was created to help overcome the problems inherent in displaying documents to users on different computer platforms. A PDF file effectively encodes the source document (be that source  a complex graphical brochure or a simple Word document) so that the layout, colors, fonts, and other elements are preserved whether or not the computer the document is later viewed on has the original application the document was created in (or the accompanying elements such as matching fonts).

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