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LRC Blog

PDF Page Format

Jonathan Slocum

N.B. The Linguistics Research Center has received a number of queries of the following type, over the years, so this excerpt is generalized by removal of information identifying any specific date or language or document content being requested. We also include here more content than we might in a reply to any specific inquiry.

Query

Are your web pages available in PDF format?

Response

The short answer is, "Sorry, but no."

In earlier years, when we began to receive queries like this, PDF readers were even less commonly installed on users' computers than they are now; in addition, software for the creation of PDF files was rare, cranky, and often expensive. Nowadays some of the older limitations may have been moderated, but...

The LRC website contains thousands of pages: the sheer effort of converting this much content to PDF format would be enormous. Moreover, the LRC's audience is world-wide: we receive page requests from 80% of all nations on earth, and it simply cannot be true that all those computers are of modern vintage. Rather, many must not be, as judged by the fact that a very substantial fraction of our page requests are for materials encoded in ISO-8859-1 rather than Unicode. Plus, there are plenty of individuals with modern computers who still opt not to install PDF software, whereas everyone has a web browser. In short, modern computers and PDF readers are not nearly so ubiquitous as their proponents would claim, imagine, or wish.

For these reasons, we do not generally render page content in PDF format. Indeed, almost every Unicode page on our website is mirrored in ISO-8859-1 so that readers lacking Unicode support can still access our content -- and they do, as noted above.