Best size for a screen-friendly / digital only PDF

  • Make it single page, not double page spread
  • resolution 1280×1024 (see the stats here)
  • landscape, not portrait
  • keep text large: 14pt + for text brochures, or for Powerpoint-type slideshow I do 36pt body text and 100+pt titles
  • in the Initial View tab set magnification to “fit page,” (“Open in full screen mode” will irritate people)
  • images should be 72dpi mimimum (I put mine at 96dpi in case the viewer has a higher screen resolution, I haven’t checked to see if this makes a big difference)

3 Comments

  1. Thanks for the tips! what about if i want to make the PDF only for mobile use? What screen size in pixels would you suggest to use? I guess the proportion will be portrait and not landscape for mobile use, right?

  2. Hi Bob,

    Short answer: 960 px wide, enable scrolling.

    Long answer: I’ve ended up sending a lot of PDFs to phones as people are on their phones more than computers here (China). But I haven’t worried too much about formatting: The big smartphone screens and zoom function means it doesn’t seem to matter very much about PDF size – people just turn the phone horizontally, zoom in and scroll down like a web page.

    But… Your question made me curious about what a good size would be specifically for smartphone use. I googled it, and found nearly nothing. But on Adobe’s new Muse software when designing for mobiles they have an example of 960 pixels wide. This seems a good middle ground, as smartphone screen sizes now range from 640 (iPhone 5) to 1000 + (iPhone 6s+, Samsung Galaxy). Then enable page scrolling in:

    Adobe Acrobat View > Page display > Enable scrolling

    then the height doesn’t matter, people will be scrolling on their phones anyway.

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