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Why PDF Advantages Are Not Worth the Risky Disadvantages

Learn what are the advantages and disadvantages of PDFs for business communication and what you can use instead of PDF to wow your audience.

Dominika Krukowska

7 minute read

What is the advantage and disadvantage of PDF
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Short answer

What are the advantages and disadvantages of PDFs?

Advantages of PDF:

  1. Precise design for A4 print
  2. Consistent graphics across devices
  3. Convenient and shareable
  4. Secure with password options
  5. Ideal for printing
  6. Typically smaller file size
  7. Supports hyperlinks and some multimedia

Disadvantages of PDF:

  1. Difficult to edit and requires special software
  2. Design tweaks can disrupt layout
  3. No collaboration options
  4. Hard to extract content
  5. Changes can be costly with design agencies
  6. Not mobile-friendly or interactive
  7. Limited personalization and no analytics

Using PDFs for business communication is hurting your growth

You know that old shirt you love? The one that's seen better days but you still wear because it's so darn comfy? That's how many of us feel about using PDFs for business. We stick with them because they're familiar, even if they might not be the best fit anymore.

But here's a heads-up: there are newer, better ways to communicate in business that you might be missing out on. If you stick around, you’ll learn why PDFs might be holding you back more than you realize and be introduced to some fresh alternatives.

And to make your transition smoother, you’ll also get a list of tools and templates tailored for the modern professional. They’ll transform the way you communicate and help you hit your business goals.

Let’s get started!

What are the main advantages of PDFs?

Alright, let's give our trusty old PDFs their due credit. They've been around for a while and have become a staple in many of our professional lives.

Why? Because they come with a bunch of perks. Let's break them down:

1) Precise design for print

Ever noticed how your PDFs fit just right on an A4 paper? That's no accident. PDFs are designed for A4 printing, ensuring your documents look sharp and professional every time you hit 'print'.

2) Graphic consistency across devices

Whether you're viewing a PDF on a smartphone, tablet, or desktop, it's going to look the same. No weird formatting issues or unexpected layout changes.

3) Convenience

One of the big reasons people rely on PDFs? They're easy to use. Open, view, and you're good to go. No need for fancy software or plugins.

4) Security

Worried about prying eyes? With PDFs, you can set a password to keep your files safe and sound. It's like having a digital lock for your important documents.

5) Shareability

Need to send over a document? With PDFs, it's as simple as hitting 'send'. They retain their format, ensuring that what your recipient sees is exactly what you sent. No unpleasant surprises or format mishaps.

6) Great for printing

Beyond just the A4 size perk, PDFs are print-friendly in general. When you print a PDF, what you see on screen is what you get in hand. The colors, the fonts, the layout—it all comes out just as you designed it.

7) Compact size

Despite packing in a lot of info, PDFs tend to be smaller than many other file types. So, you get all the detail without the digital bulk. You can store and share them without worrying about them hogging all your storage space.

8) Support for some multimedia types

Now, while PDFs aren't the most interactive format out there, they do have some tricks up their sleeve. They can house clickable buttons, hyperlinks, and even support a touch of multimedia.

While it’s just the tip of the iceberg compared to what truly interactive software can offer, it’s a start.

What are the main disadvantages of PDFs?

While PDFs have their strengths, they also come with a set of challenges that can impact how we communicate and share information. Let's delve deeper into these challenges:

1) Hard to edit

Ever tried to change something in a PDF? It's not always a walk in the park. You often need some special tools, and even then, making text edits can feel like a bit of a puzzle.

2) Hard to make design tweaks

Imagine setting up a domino chain and then trying to replace one in the middle without toppling the rest. That's what tweaking a PDF's design can feel like. One small change can send the whole layout into chaos.

3) You can’t collaborate with team members

PDFs aren't the best team players. Unlike some tools that let everyone jump in and collaborate in real-time, PDFs often require a round-robin approach, slowing down the creative flow.

4) Hard to extract content from PDFs

Need a paragraph or image from a PDF? It's not always a straightforward copy-paste job. Sometimes, extracting content can feel like trying to get that last bit of toothpaste out of the tube.

5) Design agencies are costly

If you've got professionals handling your PDFs, remember that their time is valuable. The format's intricacies mean that even minor changes can take longer than you'd expect, and that can add up in terms of cost.

6) They kill engagement

In a world where we're used to interactive and dynamic content, PDFs can come across as a bit old school. Their static nature might not always captivate modern audiences who are used to more engaging formats.

7) They’re letter-sized

PDFs are optimized for print, which is great for documents. But on screens, especially on mobile, you might find yourself doing a lot of zooming and scrolling to see everything clearly.

Here's what PDFs look like on mobile:

PDF document on mobile

8) They’re text-heavy

With PDFs, you often end up with long stretches of text, with no option to organize it in an easily digestible format. While detailed content is great, the lack of interactive or dynamic elements can make it a lengthy read for your audience.

Here's an example of a text-heavy PDF:

Text-heavy PDF

9) You can’t embed videos or use interactive elements

While PDFs can incorporate basic elements like hyperlinks, they lack the advanced interactive features available in other digital formats, such as embedded videos or interactive charts.

And, the implications are bigger than you might think. According to our research, giving your audience something to play around can get 41% more people to scroll your presentation to the bottom and read it 21% longer.

10) No personalization options

PDFs are static, meaning once you've created one, it's the same for everyone. There's no room to tailor content to individual recipients or to make them feel special. And these days, personalization isn't just a nice-to-have; it's a must.

Our analysis of 100K+ presentation sessions showed that decks including a personal touch saw a whopping 68% more people read them in full compared to generic presentations. Personalized content also led to a 41% increase in average reading time.

Benefits of personalized presentations:


More decks read in full


Increased avg. reading time


More decks shared internally

11) They’re not mobile-friendly

PDFs can sometimes feel a bit clunky on smaller screens, making it harder for readers on the go. And, with a third of all decks being opened on mobile, the endless pinching and zooming is sure to cause reader frustration.

12) They’re impossible to change after sending

Once you've created and shared a PDF, it's out there in its final form. If you spot an error or need to update information, you're looking at creating a new version and resending.

13) Difficult to include a clear CTA

Here's the thing about PDFs: while they're great for sharing info, they're not so hot when it comes to guiding your reader to the next step.

Unlike interactive formats where you can even embed your calendar, in a PDF, your call to action can get a bit lost, potentially hurting your conversion rates.

Impact of adding next steps on avg. deck conversion rate:

14) Lack of analytics

Without the ability to track engagement, PDFs leave us in the dark about how our content is performing and where improvements can be made.

Meanwhile, every presentation created with Storydoc comes with access to an analytics panel. You can gain insights into how your audience interacts with your content by tracking metrics like page views, time spent on each slide, and click-through rates.

Here’s a video explaining how it works:

Storydoc analytics pa

15) No integration with business tools

PDFs are solid on their own, but they don't always play nicely with other software or tools you might be using, like your CRM, design tools, project management tools, and analytics tools.

This can prevent you from automating processes, slow down your workflow, and ultimately hurt your productivity.

Storydoc is designed with integration in mind. It seamlessly connects with a wide range of business tools, which means you can easily import content, sync data, and automate processes without the need for manual intervention.

Here’s how it works:

Storydoc integra

16) Security issues

On the security front, while you can add passwords to PDFs, they're not foolproof. There's always a risk, however small, of issues like malware or phishing attempts. For instance, hackers can pose as your brand and inject malicious code with a corrupt version of your PDF.

What are better alternatives to PDF format?

It's clear that while PDFs have been a reliable tool for years, the winds of change are blowing. As businesses and audiences seek more engaging and dynamic ways to consume content, interactive web experiences offer a better alternative to PDF format.

It's about transforming static content into immersive journeys. Instead of flat, unchanging pages, imagine content that responds, adapts, and engages the user at every turn.

Here's what an interactive presentation looks like compared to a PDF:

Static PDF or PPT
Interactive Storydoc

Interactive content templates

If you're feeling the pull towards interactive content but aren't sure where to start, we've got just the thing for you: a gallery of interactive content templates. Think of them as the bridge between traditional PDFs and the dynamic world of interactive web experiences.

Whether you're crafting a report, a proposal, or any other business document, there's a template waiting to give it that interactive edge.

Check them out.

No templates found
Dominika Krukowska

Hi, I'm Dominika, Content Specialist at Storydoc. As a creative professional with experience in fashion, I'm here to show you how to amplify your brand message through the power of storytelling and eye-catching visuals.

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