Sign PDF Documents Digitally to Enhance your Business

Signing documents is such an age-old part of our workday that we hardly give it a second thought. And that’s the problem. It’s an age-old process. One that’s hard to manage, verify, secure, and update.

How widespread is it? Studies show that a staggering 80% of all business processes rely on forms, and many of these forms have to be signed. That can result in a costly cascade of follow-ons that includes everything from printing paper documents to delays in delivery that cost time and money.

These and many other reasons are why the digital signature can be a far better option for everyday business operations.

Digital signatures beat handwritten signatures, hands down

Digital signatures in PDF documents and PDF forms capture your John Hancock just like traditional handwritten signatures, only better.

Digital signatures let you use any signature you like—including graphics such as your handwritten signature and company logo, and text like your name, organization, country, and location. But unlike their inky counterparts, they come with an authentication process built right in. That’s because digital signatures store information about who signed the PDF document along with the date, time, and status of the document when they signed it.

What’s more, from a business perspective, by standardizing on digital signatures in your PDF software, your company maintains control over the signing process and the kinds of applications used to sign documents. And you preserve the ability to keep signed documents up-to-date even as technology changes.

Foxit PhantomPDF provides you with three different ways to sign PDF:

  1. Using an image of your own signature.
  2. Using a digital signature, however, you first need to obtain a digital certificate from a reputable third-party certificate authority.
  3. Using an electronic signature, also known as an eSignature, where you can utilize PhantomPDF’s built in integration with DocuSign – a leading eSignature provider.

Not surprisingly, PhantomPDF for Business goes beyond the basics, letting you indicate the level of content approval viewers of your PDF have. It also allows you to specify the types of changes that are permitted for the PDF to remain certified. And it enables you to validate the status of a digital signature in a PDF document you receive so you can determine if the document has been modified since it was signed.

Want even more security? Use digital certification

digital certificate offers an even tighter level of verification and security. It’s used to bind public keys to persons or other entities and is actually signed by a trusted third party.

PhantomPDF for Business lets you certify your PDF documents and specify what changes can be made to the file after you do so. Whenever approved changes are made, the certificate remains valid and intact.

If someone tries to make changes you haven’t allowed, however, the certificate is invalidated. Anyone that views your PDF document afterwards will be notified that the document was tampered with.

So the next time you need to sign documents, consider putting down the pen and cracking open Foxit Reader or PhantomPDF instead. Your carpal tunnel and your business will be the better for it.

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SEO for PDF Helps Your Content Get Found

When it comes to optimizing your documents and web pages so that search engines will find them—which means people will find them, boosting traffic to your site—many experts will tell you that HTML is the better way to go. It’s what users are used to. People use it more frequently for web pages. And they embed social sharing in it more often.

That said, you get a lot of benefit out of making your PDFs search-engine friendly. For one thing, if you’ve already got a lot of PDFs on your website, it’s not only time-consuming to replace them; you may be eliminating perfectly good pages that others have already linked to, which is a no-no for SEO.

And if your PDF content is intended to be printed, like brochures or user guides, or even archived, like government and legal documents, turning it into HTML can defeat that purpose.

Instead, it’s wise to put best practices for SEO in PDF in place upfront, right at the time of creation.

The good news is SEO for PDF isn’t difficult. It just requires that you and other PDF file creators follow these steps.

Use best practices for SEO in your PDF files

Most of the practices for good SEO hold true for good SEO for PDF. That includes:

  • Peppering your PDF with internal links to lend it some link juice
  • Linking from your PDF to other web pages on your site and others’ web sites when it makes sense
  • Ensuring you‘ve picked good keywords and placed enough of them in your PDF file
  • Optimizing images in your PDF for SEO by adding alt text, using a good file name, and making the file size quickly loadable

 Keep file size down

Big files take longer to load, which makes people and search engines unhappy. So be sure to use the PDF Optimizer in Foxit PhantomPDF, which lets you compress image files and remove data redundancy to reduce your PDF file size.

Don’t duplicate content

Having both HTML and PDF versions of the same content can be a good idea, but only if you take steps to ensure that search engines don’t view your PDF file as a duplicate of your HTML file. They penalize you for duplication, so check their guidelines for avoiding duplicate content.

Set your document properties

You’ve gone to the trouble to create a nice, easily searchable, keyword-happy title. Now be sure to fill out the Author, Subject, and Keywords document properties. The jury is still out on exactly how they affect SEO, but better not to omit potentially useful information.

Make sure to write-protect your PDF file

By write-protecting your PDF file, you prevent would-be bad guys from downloading it, making changes to it and uploading it to their site.

Take these simple steps for making your PDF files into SEO friendly files and you’ll be in good graces with the search engines. And the users that want to find your content.

PDF Annotate Tools Offer a Superior Way to Add Your Feedback

If you’ve ever had to tell someone where to make changes in a web page, an image, or a nicely laid out document, you’ll appreciate the value and speed of PDF Annotate tools. Here’s why.

Also known as a comment, an annotation is your opportunity to write a note letting anyone viewing the PDF know that you propose changes or need more information.

So, instead of writing, “On this web page, in the second sentence of the third paragraph, under the picture of the cute little puppy”, add the sentence “Our company is committed to cute little puppies,” you can simply convert the page in question into a PDF. Then use PDF annotation to add a tidy little note that not only tells your recipient the change you want, but shows them exactly where you want it.

The best part? Even Foxit Reader offers annotation capabilities. Plus Foxit PhantomPDF™ Standard and Business offer even more.

The Time Saving Benefits of PDF Annotate Tools

Using PDF annotation tools reduce how long it takes you to request changes or highlight important aspects of a document. It also helps eliminate errors caused by illegible or confusing handwritten markups. It enables you to make more use of the easy-to-create-and-archive PDF format. It can even reduce your environmental impact by decreasing the need to print paper. And it decreases wear and tear on the soles of your shoes as you don’t have to use Sneaker Net (aka, walking over to the desk of the recipient to hand them your changes).

Lots of PDF Annotate Choices

You’ve got a wide selection for creating annotations in PhantomPDF. You can type a text message or add a line, circle, or other shape to make comments on the PDFs you’re reading with Foxit PhantomPDF commenting tools. You can also edit, reply, delete, and move the comments with ease. And you can quickly view all the comments in the document in a list, or even import, export, and send comments as a Form Data Format (FDF) attachment via email.

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You can use Text Markup tools to indicate where text should be edited. Text Markups don’t change the actual text in the PDF. Instead, they indicate which text you want deleted, inserted, highlighted or underlined.

You can use the Pin Tool to add comments by adding notes and attaching a file in the document as a comment. That’s very handy if you want the recipient to refer to something in another document and ensure they’ve got it.

You can use the Typewriter Tool to add comments anywhere on a PDF. (Just be aware that this PDF Annotate option doesn’t include your comments in the list that shows all annotations in the PDF.)

You can also work with the Callout Tool and Textbox Tool to create your annotations. Callout text boxes are especially useful when you want to single out (but not obscure) a particular area of a document.

When you use the Textbox Tool to type your comment, it will remain visible on the document page. It doesn’t close like a pop-up note. This can be useful when you want to ensure anyone who opens your PDF sees your comment front and center.

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You can even create annotations using the Drawing Tools to mark up a document with rectangles, ovals, polygons, clouds, arrows, lines, etc. Any of these basic shapes can call attention to the text or area of the document you want to highlight.

Whichever annotation tools you choose, you’ll find PDF annotation is far superior for you and your team when providing feedback or collaborating on documents that rely on layout. It sure beats the ol’ pen, paper and Sneaker Net.

The Basics of PDF Security

Like all things in the Digital Age, there’s a tradeoff between allowing easy access to information and protecting it from prying eyes. This is why there’s a whole spectrum of security options for PDF files available to you when using Foxit PhantomPDF. You can choose everything from using no security at all to applying various levels of password protection, encryption, and even rights management protection. Here’s a primer on how to decide which levels are best for your PDF documents.

Determine what level of PDF security you need

Your first step is to think about the foundational questions used to plot any good movie or book—namely, who, what, where, why, and how.

  • Who is the PDF document you’re creating for?
  • What type of information will your PDF document contain?
  • Where will your PDF document be sent, posted or archived?
  • Why will those accessing the PDF file need it?
  • How will they use your PDF document?

With answers to those questions in mind, it’s easier to decide how sophisticated you go with PDF security.

For example, if your PDF document is a description of your company’s history, you may decide to leave it unsecured and post it online for anyone to read.   On the other hand, if your PDF document is the complete specs for your company’s as-yet unreleased time machine, you may choose RMS security to specify different levels of permission, such as filling in forms, adding comments, printing, editing text, or deleting pages, for different people.

Your PDF security choices include:

  1. No Security, enabling your PDF document to be accessed by anyone with a PDF Reader. This is the default choice for mass distribution.
  2. Password Protection lets you add a password to a PDF document to limit ability to open the file (using a Document Open password) and restrict certain features (using a Permissions password), including:
    • Printing
    • Filling forms
    • Making comments
    • Managing pages and bookmarks
    • Modifying the document
    • Extracting content (such as text or images)
    • Changing encryption, password and security settings
  3. Certificate Protection lets you secure documents with certificates specifying unique permissions for each person. For example, you may allow your employees to fill out forms requesting parts for your company’s time machine in your Time Machine Spec Document PDF, but only you and the executive team are allowed to make changes to text, delete pages or change page order. Certificate protection only permits access to your PDF document by users whose identities can be verified and managed, so make sure everyone’s properly identifiable.
  4. AD RMS Protection (available in Business only) works with Microsoft® Active Directory® Rights Management Services information technology to help safeguard digital information from unauthorized use. Rights management dictates who can access sensitive information, what information they can access, and what operations they are allowed to execute (for example, reading, printing, copying, modifying, etc.).  It improves information security and meet compliance requirements.
  5. Redaction  (available in Business only) allows you to remove sensitive information from your document prior to making it available to others. This is a serious decision, however, because once you redact information, it’s deleted permanently. It’s the PDF equivalent of a crosscut shredder.

No matter which level of PDF Security you choose, you can create security policies that let you apply the same security settings to multiple PDFs, saving you time and effort in the future. Security policies include the security method, encryption password, permission settings, and more.

For full details on all the PDF security features available to you and how to use them, consult Chapter 9 in your handy PhantomPDF User Manual.