PDF vs. Word Doc - Which Format is Best in Various Situations

In this day and age, PDF and Word Document files are among the most used file formats. These document types are used for personal, official, and business use. However, each file gives you different features and applicability. As such, there are advantages and disadvantages associated with each. This article will highlight the difference between PDF and word doc and when best to use each.

About a PDF

PDF stands for Portable Document Format. This file type was developed by Adobe. It allows users to store and present texts, pictures, tables, graphics, and other human-readable information. Although PDF files are not always fully editable, there are PDF files that allow users to input information. Like most documents, a PDF file provides information in a formatted form, which makes it ideal for professional use.

Word Document

Word document is a popular text document developed by Microsoft. It allows users to input text, images, and other human-readable information. Unlike a PDF file, a word document is fully editable unless protected by a user.

Word documents come in different formats. Each variation may work best on different application versions. However, the .docx format is widely considered the standard version of the word document.

Features and Uses of PDF and Word Documents

Although each file stores and presents information, there is a distinction between a PDF file and a word document file. These features and differences are highlighted below.

File Specification

A PDF file is made to store text, bitmap graphics, and vectors in a portable and stable form. This structure prevents PDF files from being distorted when opened on supported applications. Similarly, the unique feature of this file format makes it compatible with different application types, including Adobe Acrobat, web browsers, and other display software. However, information stored in a PDF file will likely occupy more space than a word document.

A word document file consists of XML files with zipped contents. Texts, images, and tables on this file are stored within archives. As such, only specific applications can successfully read the content of a word document. The most obvious apps you can use are Microsoft Word and Google Docs. Each of these applications and more supports word documents by displaying content and features. Likewise, it consumes less space compared to a PDF file.


A PDF file’s use cycle is different from that of a word document. As such, a PDF can be shared, viewed, and reviewed with ease. It can also be used for filling out documents and agreements. However, editing every aspect of the file is almost impossible. The only thing a user can do is add a comment, annotate, fill forms, add visual objects, and draw. These actions can be done using specialized applications.

If you are thinking of drafting and editing content, a word document file should be your go-to option. This file lets you write and edit content with easy. It also gives you the creative freedom to change the features of the file. Likewise, you can print and convert it to a format that includes PDF.


Collaboration with a PDF file is possible. However, there are lots of limitations associated with this. Users can only comment or annotate this document. Any further manipulation is inefficient. Yet, it is more secure.

A word document is an ideal option for collaboration. Multiple users can work on a file through Microsoft 360. The only requirement is there to be connectivity if they want to work in real-time. However, a user can track changes to any word document, which can be reviewed and accepted by others.

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