When it comes to document management, PDF compatibility is key. Yet most document management solutions ignore the special needs of PDFs. What makes PDF document management different? What features should you look for? Is there any document management solution that addresses the broader needs of PDFs? Absolutely: FileCenter, the low-cost leader in PDF document management.
In this article we'll discuss the primary considerations and show why we recommend FileCenter.
PDF Document Management Summary
- What makes PDFs different?
- PDF document management should make it easy to scan and convert to PDF
- The ability to search PDF tags within PDF document management software is essential
- A PDF document management solution should provide PDF preview and thumbnails
- Consider PDF document management software that includes a PDF editor, PDF annotations, and PDF manipulation
- Jump to our recommendation »
What Makes PDFs Different?
In a sense, a PDF document is like any other file. But in another sense, it's quite different. Why? Because you can do things with a PDF that can't be done with any other kind of file. You see, PDF has become the de-facto standard for archiving documents. As such, it has developed a robust set of traits appropriate for its task.
For example, a PDF can be secured in such a way that no-one but its creator can open, alter, or even print the PDF, depending on the author's choice. In some ways a PDF is like a Word document but in other ways it is more like an image, giving it the best of both worlds. For instance, a PDF can hold a perfect reproduction of a scanned image but also hold the actual text of that image for searching purposes. It can be marked and annotated. And PDF pages can be pulled out into other documents or new pages inserted.
PDF Document Management Should Facilitate PDF Scanning & PDF Conversion
Because PDF is an archival format, PDF document management all but requires that the software make it effortless to get documents into PDF format. There are three methods that any PDF document management software should not only provide, but should integrate seamlessly into the workflow:
First, it should allow you to "print" any kind of content to PDF and store it in the system. This is accomplished through a virtual printer. Anything printed to this PDF printer gets transformed into a PDF and stored in the system: web pages, emails, even documents and spreadsheets.
Second, the PDF document management software should offer a way to easily convert existing documents to PDF. For example, suppose you want to send a Word document to a client, but you want to send it as an uneditable PDF. Ideal PDF document management sofware will automatically convert that Word document to a PDF at the time you send it, without requiring extra steps on your part. In an PDF document management system, you should be able to select any file and convert it to PDF with just a mouse click.
Finally, PDF document management should also serve as document scanning software to allow you to scan directly to PDF. And not just PDF, but searchable PDF. Meaning that the document management software automatically and transparently takes care of Optical Character Recognition to make the PDF searchable.
The Ability to Search PDF Tags Within PDF Document Management Software is Essential
PDF documents feature a tag system that lets you assign your own keywords to the PDF. The keywords don't appear in the body, but rather, they make it easier to search for that PDF in the future. Any document management software designed for PDFs should include the ability to search these special PDF tags.
A PDF Document Management Solution Should Provide PDF Preview and Thumbnails
As we mentioned earlier, one nice aspect of PDF files is that, in many ways, they behave like image files. This means that you should be able to have the PDF file's icon be an actual picture of the PDF file. This is know as thumbnailing.
Additionally, your PDF document management software should provide a preview window – in other words, a way to see the PDF without having to open it in an editor. This makes it quick and easy to browse through a list of PDFs looking for the one you want.
Consider PDF Document Management Software That Includes a PDF Editor, PDF Annotations, and PDF Manipulation
PDF document management almost requires the ability to manipulate PDF files. For example, suppose you want to scan additional pages into a PDF document. You should be able to select that document, click Scan, and append the new pages. Or suppose you have four or five PDFs that should be combined into a single file. Your PDF document management software should allow you to simply drag-and-drop those files onto each other to combine them. Splitting a large PDF into a few distinct files should be equally effortless.
Other PDF-related tasks, like annotating a PDF, require a full-fledged PDF editor. While it might seem like that needs to be an entirely separate program, we can still ask the question: Shouldn't a document management system designed to handle PDFs integrate such features? In fact, it should. PDF document management demands that all of your PDF-related tasks be addressable as a seamless part of your workflow. Consider the PDF-related tasks that matter the most to you and make sure your PDF document management solution has features to address them.
Our PDF Document Management Recommendation
FileCenter bends over backwards to accomodate PDFs. From effortless PDF creation and conversion to tightly-integrated tools for manipulating and annotating PDFs right within the interface, FileCenter ensures that PDF document management will be as effortless as possible. Download a free trial today!
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