Reading PDFs on your SmartPhone
You’ve all experienced this situation: Someone sends you an e-mail with a long PDF attachment, and you make the mistake of opening it and trying to read the PDF on your SmartPhone.
In some cases, you will have to access the PDF reader first. But even if the PDF comes up automatically, you still have the problem of trying to read it.
Your choice: Read the small type or zoom and scroll horizontally
When you try to read a PDF on a SmartPhone, the type is usually so small that you need a magnifying glass. And if you zoom in, the type falls off the left and right sides of the screen, and you have to scroll horizontally to read the rest of the sentence you just started. This is particularly annoying if the document is long and involved.
The cause of the problem
The genesis of the problem is that PDFs are typically created from Word documents, which are designed for the printed page. In the United States, this means a page that’s 8 ½ by 11 inches. And since the typical SmartPhone screen is much smaller (approximately 3 to 4 inches, measured vertically), there’s an “issue.” The PDF adapts to the smaller size display by making the entire page smaller – hence the initial miniscule type in PDF documents displayed on SmartPhones.
What’s the solution to this problem? Well, there are several solutions that document developers can implement, and none of them are optimal for all situations.
First of all, on some SmartPhones (Android and Nokia), if the PDF has been tagged correctly and if Adobe Reader X is on the SmartPhone, users can reflow the text so it is legible. However, keep in mind that at the moment, Adobe Reader X does not work on the iPhone or the BlackBerry. (Note that a subsequent post to this blog will discuss Adobe Reader X and text reflow in more detail.)
Another option would be for the document’s developer to create an HTML version of the document so users can just link to it. Needless to say the downside is the time spent implementing this solution, especially if legacy documents are involved.
And finally, the document’s developer can convert the document to an e-pub, which reflows the text to fit the user’s SmartPhone and ensures legibility. This solution works for almost all SmartPhones but has a few issues that we will discuss in more detail in the next blog post.
So stayed tuned for these next updates to learn more about reading documents on your SmartPhone.
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