What You Should Know About Content Conversion

Illustration of a "Conversion", Person half obscured by multi-colored vertical lines.

With modern technology, content conversion may seem like a non-issue.  A task, like converting a Word document to a PDF or a PDF to an ePub is something that you can do with just a couple clicks, right?  Well, it’s not exactly that simple. 

Accessibility Not Guaranteed

Just because content fits a format, doesn’t mean it’s optimized for that format.  For example, say you convert a Word document (.docx file) to a PDF using Word’s export functionality.  The output will be a PDF—obviously.  Any software that can open a PDF will be able to open your PDF.   And, for student use or just regular day-to-day tasks, this PDF will likely be just fine.  However, businesses looking to utilize this PDF in their marketing materials or communications may find it severely lacking.

The PDF created through this conversion will not have been made accessible.  Even if the original file was fairly accessible.  That’s because the conventions and standards for an accessible PDF are different.  And the software performing the conversion isn’t always capable of the transformations required for its output to meet the necessary standards. 

By Any Other Name… 

How about converting a PDF to an ePub.  A quick Google search will bring up plenty of free or very cheap software options for this. So why would anyone spend money on this?

Well, ePubs are preferred by readers and eBook Market Places not just because of “.epub” at the end of the file’s name.  Properly optimized ePubs can provide users with a rich, dynamic reading experience that is accessible and works great across devices of all sizes.  But a basic conversion really just means that software that can open an ePub can open your document.  Without some transformation, it still really only has the functionality of a PDF. 

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