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Portable Document Format (PDF)

Help viewing files formatted in PDF.

What Is PDF?

PDF (Portable Document Format) is an electronic file format for documents that has captured all the elements of a printed document as an electronic image that you can view, navigate, print, or forward to someone else. A PDF document will have a .pdf filename extension (example: filename.pdf).

How to View PDF Files

PDF files are created using Adobe Acrobat, Acrobat Capture, or similar products. To view and use the files, you need the free Acrobat Reader, which you can easily download from the Adobe website. Just go to the Adobe website

After Acrobat Reader is installed, you can view PDF documents. Simply clicking on a link to a PDF document will open it up in your browser. Compared to Web pages, PDF documents can take a longer time to download and display. When you click on a link to the document, it may seem like nothing is happening while in fact the document is being downloading behind the browser.

Sometimes, especially when it is a large document, it is a good idea to save the document to your computer first, and then view the document from your computer, as opposed to viewing it online. To do this:

  1. Right-click on the document, choose "Save As," and save it somewhere on your computer—for example, "Desktop" or "My Documents."
  2. Then locate the document on your computer, click or double-click on it, and it will automatically be displayed through Acrobat Reader.

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Why Use PDF?

PDF files are especially useful for documents like articles, product brochures, topic papers, or fliers in which you want to preserve the original graphic appearance online. A PDF file contains one or more page images, each of which you can zoom in on or out from. You can page forward and backward.

PDF documents are widely used on the Internet, including the TCEQ Web server, for several reasons:

  • A PDF typically has the same appearance, colors, fonts, graphics and layout as the printed document.
  • PDFs can be read online, or saved and printed. Acrobat Reader is available free for the most popular operating systems, such as Mac and Windows.
  • While the reader software can't edit (change) a PDF document, in many cases, it can copy text from the document and perform word or text-string searches of the document, depending how the PDF was made.

Printing PDF Documents

To print a PDF document, you can either click the printer icon on the toolbar or go to "File" and click on "Print."

PDF Files and Accessibility

Recent versions of Acrobat Reader work well with screen readers and other forms of assistive technology. In creating our PDF files, we follow procedures that should produce accessible documents, and we check the files produced to confirm that, as best we can tell, they are accessible. Still, it is not possible to foresee all possible situations and the steps needed to ensure that a document is accessible in those situations.

If you have a disability and are unable to use one of our PDF documents or forms, email us at Tell us the document title or form number, the URL of where you downloaded the document from, and as much as you can about the problem you are experiencing. We will do our best to make that document or form usable for you.

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Electronic Fill-in-the-Blank PDF Forms

To make completing our forms easier, we have started to create many of our forms in an electronic, fill-in-the-blank format. With current versions of Acrobat Reader, you have the option—on certain TCEQ forms—to complete the PDF form electronically instead of printing it on paper and then writing or typing the information on the hard copy.

To complete an electronic PDF form, follow these easy steps:

  1. Open the PDF form in Acrobat Reader (in the browser or as a standalone product). You can also save the PDF form to your computer, flash drive, or other storage device and open the form later in Acrobat Reader. (If you have Acrobat Professional, you can use it instead of Acrobat Reader.)
  2. Once the form is open, click on the first field. A blinking cursor will appear.
  3. After you have completed the first field, you can tab to the next field.
  4. After you have completed all the fields, you can print out the page. Note: If the cursor is blinking in a field, the information in that field will not be printed. Hit "Return" or "Enter" and the information will be captured for all fields.

If you have Acrobat Professional, you can also save the data, either by itself or as entries in the form. If you save the data only, it will take up less disk space and can be imported back into the same form at any time, provided the form has not changed. For more information on exporting and importing form data, check the support materials for Acrobat Professional.

If you have only Acrobat Reader, you cannot save the entered data for later use.

Note: Use of PDF electronic, fill-in-the-blank forms does not include online submission.

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