How To Combine PDF Files and Know What You're Doing

Practically everyone uses PDFs in some way, but are you taking advantage of a service that can combine PDF files? The PDF or Portable Document Format file type is ubiquitous and unavoidable as a necessary technology virtually everyone uses. A huge variety of programs can view PDFs, many of which everyone owns, perhaps without realizing it. They are exceptionally useful files that can, for example, be used as attachments online. When you combine multiple files into one or several PDFs, you can make it vastly easier to attach and view multiple files in one place.

What Is a PDF and Why Combine PDF Files?

A PDF is a type of file created by Adobe that is generally used to preserve the original formatting of a page. PDFs are useful because they allow the reader to view any type of document without needing special software; most major browsers these days have built-in PDF readers, so you don’t even need special PDF reader software.
While most browsers can view PDFs, this is generally their limit. If you want to combine PDF files, you’ll need a dedicated application or service that can do that.
Combining PDF files is useful if you want to organize your documents in one place and minimize the number of files you’re working with, particularly when used as an attachment in an email. Some services can merge and convert many types of files – including PDF, Microsoft Office, email, and image files – into one or more PDFs. They also have the option to convert it into a special type of file called a PDF/A.

How Do I Create a PDF?

Creating a PDF file is easy in both Windows and macOS, and if you can print it, you can probably convert it into a PDF. Windows and macOS documents can be “printed” to PDF, and it is as simple as creating any other type of document. When you select the “print” option in any given document, you will see the option to print it as a PDF.
This method offers little in the way of control of how a PDF turns out, however, and if you want to customize how your PDF turns out when you combine PDF files, you will need special software.

What Is a PDF/A, and When Is It Useful To Combine PDF Files?

PDF/A files are an archive-friendly subtype of PDF files that embed the fonts within a document into the PDF file. This makes it so that the fonts used for the PDF file do not need to be installed on the user’s computer to read them. Even if the user’s computer does not have the fonts installed, they will still be able to read a PDF/A file as intended. This serves to future-proof a PDF file in case a font used to create the file is no longer available.
Note that there are some restrictions to PDF/A files: Audio, video and executable files cannot function in PDF/A format. External resources may not be embedded, as there is no guarantee that these external resources will still exist in the future. Similarly, there is no encryption for PDF/A files as encryption methods tend to evolve or disappear over time and so can’t be used in an archival format.
Some PDF combination services, though not all, can combine PDF files into PDF/A format.

What Is OCR, and When Should You Combine PDF Files With It?

When a PDF is created, text within it is like an image and is treated as nothing more than white and black dots. It thus cannot be searched or edited. OCR solves this problem.
OCR, or Optical Character Recognition, is a technology that can be useful when you combine PDF files. OCR digitizes text that’s scanned in a PDF, whether it’s handwritten, printed, or typed.

Who Benefits From OCR?

There are distinct benefits if you want to combine PDF files with OCR. The text is digitized and recognized as text by software, which allows it to be searched and edited. If you’re looking for certain keywords or areas of the text within a PDF, OCR allows you to quickly find them.
OCR is especially useful for those who are blind or visually impaired. Because the text is digitized, the text can be read out loud by software designed to do so. Thus, OCR allows PDFs to be understood even by those who can’t physically read them.
The use of OCR also allows for more efficiency in the workplace. It is common for offices to have large numbers of documents scanned regularly, and OCR makes the text useable in ways that it otherwise couldn’t be with a traditional PDF.

What Is Compression, and Is It Useful if You Combine PDF Files?

Another option some services that combine PDF files have is the ability to compress the PDF. This optimizes the PDF to be a certain type of document, reducing its file size, which in turn may make it easier to send as an attachment and reduce the amount of space it takes up in hard disk or cloud storage. However, this is at the expense of image quality, so if you’re not sure how compression will affect your PDF file, be sure to preview the compressed file to be sure it’s still of acceptable clarity.
When a PDF is compressed, the program performing the compression will search for redundancies within the file. It will identify patterns and focus on areas that can be reduced in size without significantly reducing the quality of the original. This results in a lower-resolution version of the file.

How Do You Choose the Right Tool To Combine PDF Files?

Even if you combine PDF files with a tool that can perform all of these functions, each tool does not execute them exactly alike. You will want to choose a tool that can competently perform all of these functions so that your PDFs come out exactly the way you want them to. Take advantage of our customizable service at PDFen, and contact us if you want to get started combining files into PDF format.