You’ve probably heard the acronym PDF, but what is it?
PDF stands for Portable Document Format. It is a file format created by Adobe Systems in 1993 for exchanging documents. Let’s say you create a word processing file using Microsoft Word and want to send it to a friend, but she uses WordPerfect. Or what if you create an Excel spreadsheet and send it to someone who doesn’t have the Excel program. Well, PDF is your answer. From Word, WordPerfect, Excel, or hundreds of other programs, you can create a document in PDF format that others can open and view in all its formatted glory, whether or not they have the program that created the file. All they need is a free Acrobat Reader to view the document. (It’s likely that your computer already has Acrobat Reader installed.)
Visitors to Church Web sites use PDF files a lot. In fact, since January 1, 2008, visitors have viewed 2,358,619 such files. All the major Church publications are available in PDF format, so you can see them with all the illustrations, photographs, and text formatted just like the printed page. You can see an index of Church publications available in PDF format or while viewing a publication online, you can access the PDF of the entire publication or just a single article or chapter.
To access the PDF of an entire publication: Go to the Table of Contents for the magazine or manual and click View on the format bar.
To access individual articles or chapters: Go to the article or chapter and click View on the format bar.
Once you’ve found the PDF, you can read it online, print all or part of it using the Adobe Reader command buttons that appear inside the window, or download the PDF by clicking the Adobe Reader command button labeled Save a Copy.
Note: PDFs of magazines are only available back to 2001 (because of copyright restrictions), even though the text of the magazines is available online back to 1971.
You make an interesting comment at the end of your post. Many of us have looked forward to the day when the gospel library on LDS.org would be filled with PDF versions of older church publications going back to the beginning of 1900. Such publications could include older Priesthood and Relief Society manuals, older Church magazines and various assorted statements from the First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve. It could also include youth publications and other interesting historical items.
When you mentioned that we can only go back to 2001 with PDF versions, I was confused. The church owns the copyrights on its publications so why would we be prevented from going back and digitizing these items? If they are available in text form, PDF is just providing the text and graphics in the same printed form in which it was originally issued.
Any light you can shed on this would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.
Thanks for the link to the page with all the Church publications in PDF. I was trying to find the latest issue of the Ensign and the text version didn’t have the little “view as PDF” link. I only saw the link on issues in the archive.
Yes, you would think that since the Church published these materials, we would have the right to post them online. But modern copyright law isn’t that simple. It defines putting text or a PDF online as a separate publishing effort from printing the publication on paper, and requires the specific written permission from the authors, photographers, illustrators, and whoever contributed to the publication to do each of these publishing activities. For current publications, we get all these full rights so that we can publish them in print, digital, online, and in all formats. But for older publications, we didn’t get these full rights.
To create the set of magazine text back to 1971, for example, we had to contact every author, photographer, and illustrator, and get their specific written permission. This was a monumental task. Some of these people had passed away or were not reachable, or didn’t give their permission. Therefore, some of the illustrations and photographs had to be omitted from the online version, and in some cases, entire articles omitted.
We’re doing our best to get the core materials online in the best usable formats. Our first priority is to get the current materials, then work backward from there. Other organizations, such as LDS Media and Deseret Book are creating archives of some older materials.