Documents in the information age are usually in the form of electronic soft copies. And we are sending a lot of them through the internet. Why electronic? Well, soft copies are easy to prepare, and almost unnecessary to print out, thus saving a whole lot of trees in the process. Hence, important documents like invoices, payment receipts, rental contracts, Curriculum Vitæ, etc. are now no longer printed out as hard copies. Paper documents that were once regarded as “putting ink on paper”, or putting things in “black and white”; i.e. creating a permanent record on the paper, which cannot be erased, corrected or disputed, are now a thing of the past.
After all, the modern electronic forms are just as safe as the obsolete paper documents… Or are they?…
The Industry Standard Word Processor
The undisputed king of word processing is Microsoft Word. Used by the majority of corporate offices, not to mention just about anybody who has a personal computer. This makes it the ubiquitous format of choice when it comes to exchanging documents. After all, a document created on Microsoft Word on one computer can be read by another computer half-way across the world, as long as it also has Microsoft Word installed, right?
But hold your horses just a second. Did you know that as Microsoft Word evolved and improved (?) over the years, documents created on each subsequent generations are just a little bit different from its predecessors? Herein lies the problem – documents created on earlier versions of Microsoft Word can be read on a later version, but the reverse may not necessarily be true. If a document is created on an older version, and is opened and edited on a later version, chances are that it can no longer be opened on the original computer once it has been saved and overwritten.
On top of that formatting done on an earlier version of Microsoft Word can also be messed up when being opened by a later version.
But Wait!… That’s Not The Worst Problem Yet
The whole advantage Microsoft Word being used for electronic exchange of documents is its compatibility. It can be opened, read and edited by the receiving end… Get it?… It can be edited!…
So what if it can be edited on the receiving end?
You want your document to be readable on the receiving end, but definitely not editable. Why?… Well, let’s take an example of a job applicant, sending his CV to the prospective employer as a Microsoft Word format. On his Curriculum Vitæ is a vital piece of information – his expected salary.
Let’s just say that his expected salary is $15,000 per month, which is clearly stated on his CV as an editable document. When the recipient opens up the applicant’s CV, he “accidentally” deletes a single zero from the applicant’s salary, making it show $1,500 a month… Imagine what will happen if the applicant is offered the job, and his expected salary is “met” by the employer…
I know I make it sound like a deliberate sabotage, but I also believe that genuine mistakes can and will happen. So do you want to leave an important piece of document like your CV to random chance?… By the way, have you met my friend, Murphy?
Trust Me, You DON’T Want Your Documents To Be Editable
The most important thing when sending an electronic document, especially over the internet, is to NOT make it editable on the receiving end. You don’t want the receiving end to be able to make any amendments or corrections (accidental or otherwise) to your document.
And if you’re anything like me, you will want your visual design of your CV to stand out from the rest of the other job applicants. You definitely don’t want your CV’s beautiful format to display incorrectly on the receiving end either.
So If I Don’t Use Microsoft Word Format, Then What Format Can I Use?
While you can prepare your document using whatever word processing software that you want (yes, including Microsoft Word), you don’t want to send the same format out. You are much better off converting the finished document into a Portable Document Format, which is non-editable, and small enough to be attached to emails, and carried around the world.
Say, what format again?… Portable Document Format, or better known as its file extension, .pdf files.
Portable Document Format was developed by Adobe, to be used as a non-editable format of almost any source file. While the creation of the .pdf files used to be the exclusive domain of the paid Adobe Acrobat application, they also produced a read-only Adobe Acrobat Reader application, which is available for download completely free. After all, what’s the use of having the .pdf files if nobody can read it unless they are unwilling to pay the premium demanded by Adobe to have access to the full-fledged Adobe Acrobat, right? So they also offered a no-frills, read-only .pdf application, the Adobe Acrobat Reader. Anybody can download the read-only application for free. That way, while they can’t create new .pdf files, they can most certainly read the ones that were created by Adobe’s other customers.
More Free Stuff All Over The World Wide Web
For those of you who can’t afford to pay Adobe’s asking price for the full-fledged Adobe Acrobat, there are so many other .pdf converters out there. Macintosh’s OS X actually allows you to print anything as a .pdf file, from any of the applications that you have on your Mac.
But then again, not everybody’s using Macs. The last time I checked, the majority of the computer users out there are still using Windows. Anyway, regardless what Operating System you are running on, as long as you can access the World Wide Web, there’s this web-based .pdf converter called Smallpdf, which you can use to create or convert anything into .pdf files.
They can do much more than just convert any files into .pdf format. And the wonderful thing is that you don’t really need to install anything on your computer. Everything that you need is in the website already.
And before you ask, no they didn’t pay me to write about them.
Putting Things Down In “Black And White”
If you want to preserve the contents you permanently onto an non-editable document that is still easily accessible by everyone, the .pdf file is the only way to go. So for the sake of everybody’s sanity, please keep your Microsoft Word documents safely tucked away inside your local storage, not sent all over the world via internet.
And for the record, not everybody uses Microsoft Word, or even Microsoft Office for that matter. Therefore, not everybody can open a .doc file even if you send them one.
Don’t believe me?… Well, I know I don’t use it. Anybody else out there who doesn’t use it too?