PDF Help


Why we use them on this Website

This website uses a format of document known as PDF in various locations around the site. PDF documents allow resources to print easily and neatly and are also useful for 'locking' documents to prevent changes. They are also efficient for large publication distributions.

Whenever this format has been used on this site, efforts have been made to:

  • Offer a full on-screen version of the resource as a web page
  • Offer an overview or other contextual information about content and size of the resource to allow the user to judge its relevancy for use, and where relevant
  • Break the PDF document down to smaller 'chunks' if the file is too large to allow easy download.

What are PDF Files?

Adobe PDF files are Portable Document Format files. PDF is a universal file format that preserves the fonts, images, graphics, and layout of any source document, regardless of the application and platform used to create it. Adobe PDF files are compact and complete, and can be shared, viewed, and printed by anyone with free Adobe Reader® software.

The advantages of PDF documents is that they can be created easily from a range of sources and placed on a website. They do not need to be marked up and for most purposes are 'sealed' in format and content to the user which prevents reproduction or inappropriate use.

More information about these files is available on the Adobe website page titled ' What is Adobe PDF'.


How to use a PDF file on the Web

PDFs require a 'plug-in' program ( free Adobe Reader® software * ) to view and this is freely available on the web. Once this program is on your PC, whenever you come across a PDF link, the Reader will open the file automatically on your screen.

There are sometimes problems with different versions of PDF files and different versions of readers. See the PDF Troubleshooting section below for more details.

* an accessibility-friendly download page is available at http://www.adobe.com/products/acrobat/alternate.html


PDF Accessibility

There are a large range of settings and configurations that can be used when saving/creating a PDF file that will enhance its 'usability' and make it more easily accessible to all users.

For web use it is best to have very small files online, so the aim is to strip back anything not needed in the document (pictures, graphics, decorations) and then save at a low resolution to create a small file for the user. Large documents are best broken down - as is the case on this website - into smaller chunks to assist in use. The new features and enhancements in the latest version of Adobe Acrobat seeks to address the needs of both users with disabilities and authors of accessible content.

All PDF files on this website will indicate clearly that they are in this format and will also have the file size to assist the user. (e.g factsheet - PDF 34KB)

As the PDF format is 'image-like', some users may have problems accessing the content of PDF files. For this reason, this website seeks to use PDF only in the following circumstances:

  1. For presentation and distibution of large documents that are primarily to be printed and are not likely to be used entirely onscreen. For example, long research reports, annual reports and other large publications. This website aims to offer a content overview/summary and other standard details of such documents to allow the user to be aware of the document content before proceeding.
  2. For presentation of layout-vital documents. For example, some forms and presentations (seminars, certificates, diagrams, flowcharts and graphics) may be dependent on layout for functionality. The layout of such documents may not be able to be ensured using standard web layout and as such they may be presented for use as PDF files.
  3. For documents with restricted or secure usage. For example, statistical reports, policies and guidelines, financial statement and other documents where the document integrity during use is vital.
  4. For non-departmental documents . This website often hosts documents of joint ownership or external submissions. Such documents may be provided for use only in PDF. In addition, a document sourced with permission from other organisations and may be offered only in PDF.

Adobe is always looking to ways of making PDF files more accessible, and the latest version of the Adobe Reader offer enhanced functionality in this area. For more information about what Adobe is doing to make PDF files more usable see http://access.adobe.com. An accessibility-friendly Adobe Reader download page is available at http://www.adobe.com/products/acrobat/alternate.html.


PDF Troubleshooting

  • Only a portion of the PDF file prints . This is usually a 'local' problem in that it is something on your PC or printer set-up. One hint is to check that you have the 'print as image' box checked under advanced printer options. If this fails to assist, then try printing on another PC or location to see if its the PDF file or your set-up.
  • The file does not open at all - You have a small 'broken image' logo on the page or a message telling you ' You don't have a program associated with this filetype' - This means that you will need to have a "plug-in" application loaded onto your PC in order to access the files below. This program, Adobe Acrobat Reader , is available free from the Adobe Website at www.adobe.com. Just follow the "get Acrobat Reader" links on this homepage to access the download. It is a simple process and all instructions are given on this page
  • If you are having problems viewing or printing a PDF file check the Adobe Online viewing solutions section.
  • If you are having problems downloading and installing the PDF Reader check the Adobe Online download solutions section.

Adobe have an online help website at http://www.adobe.com/support/products/acrreader.html that offers assistance to users.


Contacts and Problems

If you are still unable to access a document on this website, please contact us through the Contact Us section of this website.

Please include in the form:

  • The location (URL/web address) of the page with the PDF document link
  • A brief outline of your difficulties and/or any special needs you may have, and
  • A valid email address capable of receiving email attachments

Further Assistance

For further assistance contact the Web Administrator through the Contact Us section of the website.

Last Updated: 17 May, 2006