PDFs: how do people really use them?

Subject: PDFs: how do people really use them?
From: S Charker <scharker -at- SYNFLUX -dot- COM -dot- AU>
Date: Mon, 3 May 1999 08:55:19 +1000

I've seen a lot of messages about using PDFs to preserve formatting and to
enable users to print all of part of documents as they require.

My question is, does anyone have evidence of how that works out in practice.
For example:

1. Does anyone know their users routinely print and file whole documents for
use by groups of people?

2. Is there some limit on the number of pages individuals are willing to

3. Do people print part of all of documents to keep, or to throw away after

4. Does anyone test the usability of PDFs for online use?

5. Is there any evidence of, or emerging convention for, the best settings
to use for PDFs that might be used extensively online?

6. How easily do users learn Acrobat Reader? Most particularly:
(a) How many users don't know about the existence of continuous view
and does it matter?
(b) Do a significant number of people get confused or distracted by
differences in behaviour between Web browsers, help display engines, and
Acrobat? Is it possible to identify a behaviour that a majority of people
think of as normal? (That sounds vague because I myself regularly get caught
out by Acrobat's page-up page-down behaviour in Single View, but I don't
know if that's just a personal quirk).

7. Has anyone tested user preferences if the choice is between a PDF and
HTML with a printer-friendly version?

8. Anything else?

I'm on digest, so my response to any responses will be delayed. Thanks guys.

Sandra Charker


"Nobody wants to remain a beginner." Alan Cooper

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