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PDF and EPUB, What's the Difference?

Portable Document Format (PDF)

Portable Document Format (PDF) was created by Adobe Systems in 1993 and is currently the most widely used electronic document format worldwide. It was created as a way to share documents with other computer users who may not have access to mutually-compatible application software. This means that it’s not necessary to view the shared document in the same software it was created. Instead, users open the document with a specialized PDF reader, such as Acrobat.


  • Control over layout and fonts
  • Ability to include drawings, full-color graphics, multimedia, photos, videos, and hyperlinks
  • Can be created using variety of software without any programming knowledge
  • Viewable and printable on a variety of different operating systems
  • Reader software is free and comes installed on most computers
  • Content will look the same on a computer, laptop or mobile device
  • Compress content while retaining quality


Electronic Publication (EPUB)

Electronic Publication (EPUB) is an XML format that can be used and displayed on multiple platforms. It has been standardized by the International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF) and is popular with many major publishers. EPUB allows for reflowable content, meaning that the text display can be optimized for the device it’s being viewed on. By design EPUB is meant to be used for eBooks, but it could also be used for other types of documentation as well.


  • Written primarily in XML and XHTML, allowing it to work well with most types of software
  • Reflowable and easy to read on small devices
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