PDF Help

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File Types used on this website:

What are PDF documents?

PDF (Portable Document Format) documents are just another MIME document type on the web, like movies, JPEG or GIF files. Traditionally these files have an extension of ".PDF". Many web browsers directly support the PDF format natively or through plug-ins, otherwise an external application, the Adobe Acrobat Reader, is required to view these documents. This plug-in or external helper application, which is available free from Adobe, allows a document to be viewed exactly as it was intended on all platforms. It may then also be printed or stored on your local system for later viewing.

What do I have to do to view PDF Documents?

To view and print PDF documents you must have a browser that supports the PDF format natively or through plug-ins (e.g. Netscape or Microsoft Internet Explorer) or you can use an external application, such as the Adobe Acrobat Reader or Adobe Acrobat Exchange. Both the plug-ins and Adobe Acrobat Reader are free from Adobe Systems. Complete instructions for installation are include with the software.

If your browser does not have native or plug-in support for the PDF MIME type, your web browser can either be configured to launch an external "helper application" or it will download the file for external viewing. Instructions for configuring popular web browsers are available from Adobe.

Free Adobe Acrobat Readers and PDF plug-ins are available for the Macintosh, Microsoft DOS, Microsoft Windows, and Sun Unix systems. For information about how to download the software and configure it, please read the instructions from Adobe's web site, http://www.adobe.com/. You can download the appropriate PDF reader software at no charge. The following link is an alternate download location.

Can I save the PDF document to my hard disk?

Yes. Select the document with your web browser. If your browser is configured to recognize PDF files properly, it will display on your screen and you can save it in your browser. If not your browser does not support PDF files or is configured incorrectly, it will most likely ask if you want to download the document as a file on your system.

Do a lot of people publish documents on the Internet in Acrobat format? Why?

Yes. Many sites publish documents on the Internet using the Acrobat format since it allows the document to be distributed exactly the way it was designed. Any two people who view or print a PDF document will see exactly the same output. Different web browsers often produce different results, and can use different fonts and formating. For instance, the Internal Revenue Service uses Acrobat to make its tax forms available online. By using PDF format, they can be assured their forms will appear exactly the same as the printed ones.

DOC Files

DOC files are word processing files and require Microsoft Word to open. They are used on this website most often for forms and documents that users will need to add information to, whether for their own use or to send elsewhere. These files are generally intended for use by a select audience where it is certain that they will have access to the software.

When you click a link to a Word document, you should be prompted with the following choices:

  • Open this file from its current location
  • Save this file to disk

If you are accessing the file merely for reference, you should probably choose to open the file from its current location. If you wish to use the files and make changes to it, choose to save the file. You will then be prompted for the location to which you wish to save it on your local network or hard drive.

Contact your network administrator for additional help.

XLS Files

XLS files are spreadsheet files and require Microsoft Excel to open. They are used on this website most often for forms and documents that users will need to add information to, whether for their own use or to send elsewhere. These files are generally intended for use by a select audience where it is certain that they will have access to the software.

When you click a link to an Excel document, you should be prompted with the following choices:

  • Open this file from its current location
  • Save this file to disk

If you are accessing the file merely for reference, you should probably choose to open the file from its current location. If you wish to use the files and make changes to it, choose to save the file. You will then be prompted for the location to which you wish to save it on your local network or hard drive.

Contact your network administrator for additional help.

What to do about an "Unknown File Type" error

You may experience the following error (or a similar appearing error) when clicking on a link to any of the above file types:

If you are certain that you have the correct application already installed on your computer (in the above case, Netscape is looking for Microsoft Excel), you can click the "Pick App..." button, and locate the application on your hard drive (PC users can look for the Microsoft folder in their Program Files folder). Once you have found the application, and click okay, you should not get the above error anymore.

If you do not have the application installed, but plan on installing it in the near future, you may choose to click the "Save File..." button and save the file on your hard drive for future use.

Contact your network administrator for additional help.