Question: Should I put Microsoft Word files or PDF files on my web site?

Answer:

Many teachers create worksheets, hand-outs, their class syllabus, and other documents using the Microsoft Word word-processing program. If you want to let students download these files you can either

  1. upload the Microsoft Word document to your website
  2. convert the Microsoft Word document to a PDF file and upload the PDF file to your website

We recommend the choice #2.

Here are the tradeoffs:

FactorIf you upload a Microsoft Word documentIf you upload a PDF file
Convenience for you Convenient.

No extra steps required.
Less convenient.

An extra step is required to convert the Microsoft Word document to a PDF file, although it's easy to do.

See How can I convert my document into a PDF file on a Windows PC? or How can I convert my document into a PDF file on a Mac?
Convenience for students using a Windows PC Inconvenient.

They can't display the file in their web browser.

If they don't own a copy of Microsoft Word then they can't view the file without installing a Microsoft Word file viewer, which very few people do.
Convenient.

They can display the directly in their web browser.

Once downloaded, a PDF file can be viewed with the Windows Acrobat Reader program, which almost all Windows users have.
Convenience for students using a Mac Inconvenient.

They can't display the file in their web browser.

If they don't own a copy of Microsoft Word then they can't view the file without installing a Microsoft Word file viewer, which very few people do.
Convenient.

They can display the directly in their web browser.

Once downloaded, a PDF file can be viewed with the Macintosh Preview program, which all Macintosh users have.
Appearance of the download link Students click on the filename or text you select. Students click on the filename or text you select.
Appearance of the document when viewed Document looks exactly like the original document. Document looks exactly, or almost exactly, like the original document.

Palms Home Page           Teachers Page           Staff Site