File Size Comparison: DOC Vs. PDF

Updated April 17, 2017

It is important to ascertain the size of a file before sending it to an associate. Choosing to create a document in a specific format may help reduce the size. A Microsoft Word format document may be much larger than an Adobe Acrobat format (PDF) file, but a PDF file will rarely be larger than a Word document .

Preliminary Decision-Making

Microsoft Word format and Adobe Acrobat format are popular document formats. Each format, however, has its strengths and weaknesses. These range from ease of use to the capability for quick amendments and almost bulletproof security which will prevent any alteration. Of course, the file size will vary too, depending on the content. If Web design is an object, the PDF format will pay dividends since the file size remains lower in PDF, being optimised for the Web. This was the original purpose of PDF, to be a highly portable document file.

History of the Two Formats and Reasons For The Different Sizes

Microsoft Word and Adobe Acrobat (Portable Document Format) both developed at the same speed. Whereas Microsoft Word was developed as a word processing format, Adobe Acrobat was created in 1993 as the basis for creating portable documents. In 2008, PDF was recognised as an open standard, opening this useful smaller document format up to wider acceptance. Microsoft Word remains a proprietary format. The two formats, through their separate development over nearly two decades, have a completely different approach toward document creation and are therefore different in many ways, including ultimate file size.

How Content Affects the File

Create a document in Microsoft Word with just words, and you have created a lightweight small file size. Add graphics or tables or both, and the file size increases dramatically. Although the content that has just been added can be easily deleted or replaced, the content adds increases the file size in Microsoft Word. The adding and removal of images and tables is not as simple in Adobe Acrobat (PDF), where the complete document includes the fonts, text, images, and 2D vector graphics.

Some Major Differences

Microsoft Word document images can easily be extracted and reused. Just copy and paste. This is just not possible with PDF. Of course, the file could be converted to another format using proprietary software, depending on how important it is to do so and how important the quality of the images ultimately need to be.

Microsoft Word is a word processor and is better for writing. If you need a PDF document, you need either Microsoft Word to create it, or another Adobe product such as InDesign or Illustrator. A PDF file has very limited editing options. Some advantages of PDF are high-quality printed products with high resolution images in a format acceptable to commercial printers. Secure, it cannot be easily altered. Many ebook formats are created in PDF. Also, it will display correctly every time. The availability of Acrobat software downloads to view PDF them make these documents highly amenable, a factor that has only recently changed with the capability of Google and other online portals and Open Office software to view Microsoft Word documents.

Doc vs PDF

If you want to create a document, and making changes quickly and easily is important, you can use proprietary Word where the images and content can be easily altered. If your desire is to create a secure, unalterable, high quality, versatile and portable document rich with features, suitable for the Web or destined for a commercial printer, use Adobe Acrobat PDF files where the file size will be much smaller.

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About the Author

Steve Tuffill has been writing professionally since 1998. He is an experienced technical writer who has worked in computer technology for many years. He also has experience with PCs, Macs and UNIX. Tuffill started writing in school, and continued his lifelong education by traveling around the world. He holds an Associate of the Arts degree in English.