Maps ETC: An online service of Florida's Educational Technology Clearinghouse

PDF Help

What is a PDF?

PDF (Portable Document Format) is a file format commonly used to distribute content to a wide audience. We use it to combine the image of the map and the text of the citation so that they can be distributed together. Another advantage of the PDF is that it can be displayed and printed using any operating system.

How do I view the PDF maps on my computer?

Most computers have software that enables viewing and printing of PDFs. If you do not have a viewer already installed, you can download the free Adobe Reader for any operating system. Mac users also have the option of using the Preview application that comes preinstalled an every Macintosh.

Why do the PDFs download so slowly?

The file size of the PDFs is much larger than the JPEG images of the maps that display on the webpage. The typical screen resolution of a webpage image is not sufficient to print a sharp copy. Most of us have been disappointed at one time or another when we printed an image from the web and it came out rather blurry. Since blurred type is unacceptable on a map, we have created the PDF documents with high-resolution images (300 dpi) so that they will print out with clarity and detail. We think this quality is worth the wait.

Why are there both color and black & white PDFs?

There are a number of reasons that you might want a black & white version:

  • a color printer might be unavailable or expensive to use
  • you may be planning to photocopy the printout
  • you may want to use colored markers to add labels or other details

You could, of course, just print the color PDF on a black & white printer if you want a black & white copy, but you'll find the colors will often tend toward a middle gray. When we converted the color images to black & white PDFs, we increased the contrast substantially, so in many cases you will get a much better black & white print from the black & white PDF than you will be able to get from the color PDF. You'll also find that the file size of the black & white PDF is smaller than the color, so it will download faster.

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Maps ETC is a part of the Educational Technology Clearinghouse and is funded by a grant from the Bureau of Instruction and Innovation, Florida Department of Education. Produced by the Florida Center for Instructional Technology, College of Education, University of South Florida. Last update: 01/06/2007. Email the project manager.