[IMGCAP(1)]PDF technology provides a very effective way to share and collaborate with documents because they are compact files that retain the original design elements when you print or display them, using PCs and mobile devices.

People and organizations rely on PDF to capture and share information, with more than 275 million PDF documents on the Web today and an incalculable number of PDF files in use by governments and businesses worldwide. However, when it comes to using PDF, most people are only scratching the surface of the productivity-enhancing aspects of the technology.

The PDF standard is a format of choice for sharing and archiving information, but PDFs are only the answer if used effectively.  Accounting professionals need better tools to more accurately convert and use text trapped in PDFs as well as solutions to transform paper-based processes into faster, smarter electronic workflows.

Here are seven ways, many of which are available free when using various PDF readers, to get more business value from PDF:

Save time recreating documents. Don’t waste time recreating Microsoft documents when you already have paper or PDF documents. Instead instantly convert these documents into fully formatted, editable spreadsheets, word processing documents and presentations—even if you have complex layouts and graphics. The time savings can be big. For instance, studies show that, on average, it takes 15 minutes to retype each page of a document.

Find information faster with text-searchable PDFs. Ever need to read through a stack of paper documents to find or check an important piece of information? Scan the paper into a text-searchable PDF instead. Then you can use text search capabilities to run through the file and automatically find the keywords or text strings you are looking to review. You also can use desktop search software to run through a number of text-searchable PDFs on your hard drive to find the right document in the same way you would search for an email or a Microsoft Word document.

Improve collaboration by adding information. Exchange ideas and provide direction by adding notes, stamps, callouts and graphics to PDF documents. Many people don’t know that you don’t need an expensive software package to edit PDF documents directly, change fonts and colors, or fix errors in text or graphics. That way, your communications can be exactly the way you want them to be.

Pull together all your information. When working on a project, people often work with documents in multiple formats—Microsoft Excel, Word, PowerPoint and Outlook emails. PDF Portfolios allow you to combine different file formats into an online project folder—making it easier to share information. And receiving parties don’t need to have the originating applications, such as Microsoft Excel or Outlook on their PC, to read the documents.

Go green and sign a PDFelectronically. Say you are managing a purchase decision and receive a PDF proposal for final review and approval. There is no need to print, sign and scan the document back to digital format. PDF software allows you to add an electronic signature stamp - and it’s good to go. Note: this is not the same as a digital signature, which provides a higher level of security.

Create fillable forms to speed processing. Many government agencies and businesses post forms as PDF files on their Web site. No need to print and fill out the form. Instead, you can convert from a static document into a fillable PDF form that you can complete electronically, save on your computer, and email for processing. Alternatively, if you have a paper form, you can also convert it into a fillable form by scanning and converting the document in the same way as a PDF form.

Safeguard who can read your PDF. You can password-protect a PDF file to make sure only the appropriate person is allowed to open and read the document. This is handy when sending sensitive information by email where it is possible that non-intended readers might be given the opportunity to read the recipient’s document. 

Jeff Segarra is director of imaging product management at Nuance.

Register or login for access to this item and much more

All Accounting Today content is archived after seven days.

Community members receive:
  • All recent and archived articles
  • Conference offers and updates
  • A full menu of enewsletter options
  • Web seminars, white papers, ebooks

Don't have an account? Register for Free Unlimited Access