I'm working on an application that exports a PDF file with important information for the user to save, and eventually recover.

The PDF format was chosen because it's adequately portable and non-editable. However, using a layout and font size good for desktop renders the file unreadable in mobile.

Are there any alternatives that preserve those 2 qualities, but can work in small and large screens alike?

  • 1
    I don't understand how you have a problem here? Mobile PDF viewers are usually capable of rendering the PDF to be readable on smaller screens. Are you creating an unusually page size for your PDF?
    – musefan
    Aug 28, 2020 at 8:13
  • How about an email? They can be responsive to some degree. Could even attach you current pdf to it.
    – Martyn
    Sep 6, 2020 at 8:32
  • Could you elaborate on the "non-editable" part? PDF files are completely editable, unless they are encrypted. "renders the file unreadable in mobile." Can you provide an example PDF and screenshot showing how it is "unreadable"?
    – Ryan
    Sep 7, 2020 at 3:54
  • Email unfortunately is off the table, because email is opt-in during registration. We just don't have emails for many users. @Ryan of course, not even binaries are impossible to edit. Doesn't mean it's an option for most people. It's "unreadable" for human beings, because the font sizes and layout are adapted to desktop screens, you have to rotate the phone and zoom in heavily to comfortably make out the text.
    – salezica
    Sep 7, 2020 at 13:12
  • Perhaps you are looking for reflowable EPUB? It is a single file (zip) containing reflowable HTML.
    – Ryan
    Sep 8, 2020 at 3:45

1 Answer 1


Do you absolutely need to do it as a PDF? This seems cumbersome and forces the user to download stuff and store it by their own means.

Why not use your own application to show the data the user wants to see, and give an option to print it? When printing it, every browser offers the option to save the layout as a PDF instead of printing it on paper.

With that, you will have much more control over the entire layout of the report.

About portability, design it to be mobile-first with responsiveness in mind, and you should be set!

  • And what if the user is offline? I don't think it's a valid answer to this question. There is nothing wrong with creating a PDF file if that is what the OP wants to do.
    – musefan
    Aug 28, 2020 at 8:10
  • Well, there can be an option for downloading the PDF in such cases. But since it seems to be an online application, getting out of it to show data pertaining to it seems to be a bit cumbersome. Like I said if it HAS to be done, fine. But again, making the user download it and store it by their own means seems antiquated and cumbersome. I would like as a user that the system takes care of that for me, and if I want to, I could download the file.
    – guzforster
    Oct 17, 2020 at 22:13

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