How to Reduce PDF File Size Easily

By Scott Shpak

The main feature of a PDF file is that it looks the same, no matter in what program or on what platform is opened. While manipulating file size is not necessarily part of PDF creation software, you can plan, create and save your PDF using techniques targeted to minimize size.

Plan Your Attack

When you are planning a document to share as a PDF, consider steps to reduce the saved size of your document. Unless color is critical to the presentation of charts and photographs, consider using black-and-white or gray content only. PDFs can include objects, such as annotations, bookmarks, links and form fields, that add to the complexity of the file. Minimizing the use of these, or omitting them altogether, aids file size reduction.

Create the Original PDF

When creating your PDF file, you can include not only text, but also the actual fonts used in the original document, a key element of portability. You can choose among three levels of font embedding -- either the entire set of fonts used, a subset of fonts, or no font at all. Embedding entire fonts assures best fidelity, but can increase file size over three times the size of the same file with no fonts embedded. Standard fonts, such as Arial, Courier and New Times Roman, are available on almost everyone's computer. Using these fonts results in excellent fidelity without the need of an embedded font.

Save Your Copy

Using the Save option may not be your best bet for reduced file size. PDF formats use incremental updates when saved, adding only changes and new material, permitting the Save function to complete quickly. Using Save As rewrites the entire document and can represent a substantial size reduction in some cases. Similarly, an already formatted PDF file can be formatted again using Save As or Print to PDF functions, at which time you may have options to optimize a file for Web presentation, for example, potentially reducing file size by lowering resolution.

Compress Your File

When all else fails, third-party utilities can help you compress your PDF files. Sites such as SmallPDF and Neevia Technology are cloud-based, while PDFCompressor offers a converter program download. Each compression utility may produce different results, even when compressing the same PDF original. Utilities are free and easy-to-use, so try several for best results (see Resources).