Close this search box.

PDF vs. DOC/DOCX: Which Format Should You Use? 

When creating documents, you have to choose a file format. PDF, created by Adobe Systems, and DOC/DOCX, developed by Microsoft, are two of the most common file formats. It can be challenging to choose between the two, especially in a business setting, as each format has its pros and cons.

There is a general, unofficial consensus that Microsoft is best suited for professional documents (legal papers, office documents, etc.), while Adobe has a more of an artistic flair to it, helping users with marketing, copywriting and various creative endeavours like advertisement design.  But let’s get back to discussing file format. The following are factors to consider when choosing between DOC and PDF

A graphic of a man sitting at a desk in front of a computer. Above him, a DOC icon and a PDF icon to signify choice.


When choosing a file format that will help your documents appear more professional, PDF will be the better choice over DOC. You have probably received many business or work-related files in PDF format.

Company annual reports, contracts, prospectus, invoices, etc., are usually in pdf format. The main reason is that using PDFs is very productive and efficient hence their prevalent use in professional settings.

Anyone with a computer can make a word document or use a DOCX file format. Moreover, they don’t appear nearly as professional as PDF documents, even when well done. 


You often have to make changes to documents before you have the final version, which you can send to the reader. The ability to edit documents is a crucial factor to consider when choosing a file format. PDF documents win again in this regard as they are straightforward to edit. You can use an online pdf editor to make changes to your files.

You can also use the programs you use to open the files, for example, Adobe Reader, to make the changes. When a client or supervisor asks you to make changes to various documents, which can be pretty specific, you have more options for editing with PDF than you do with a DOC file. 


You will often receive documents and files in different file formats. You will have to convert them to the file format best for or requested by the intended recipient.

Chances are you have received a DOC or PPT file that you were unable to convert to another file format because it was incompatible with the software you had on your device.

Files are much easier to convert to PDF than to DOC, mainly because you need proprietary software, i.e., Microsoft Office or Word, to do so. You can convert almost every file type to PDF, including PowerPoint files. The ability to convert documents makes PDF a better file format than DOC. 

File Size

File sizes do not matter as much as they used to because of increased internet speeds. However, when dealing with many files, the size does matter, and it is better to choose a file format that takes up as little space as possible.

It is impossible to reduce the file size of a DOC/DOCX format. On the other hand, PDF offers file size reduction capability, which is a crucial feature when formatting files. Therefore, if you are sharing your files through a size-limit platform, PDF is the best format to use. You can compress the file making it easy to share it with anyone and on any platform. 


File security is of utmost importance, especially in business and professional environments. The many file leaks in history prove just that. Therefore, when choosing a file format, you should seriously consider which makes the document more secure.

You can put passwords in both DOC and PDF file formats. However, it is easier to do so with a PDF than with a DOCX file. The encryption for PDF documents is secure, meaning you can share it with multiple people and across platforms. 

Ease Of Creation

Sometimes, you quickly need to create a document and send it to a client or superior at work. Therefore, you need a file format that you can quickly start, input details, and send. If you use Windows, DOC/DOCX formats are the best in terms of ease of creation.

You can easily find them in the start menu, open them, and input the information with one click. PDF files are slightly more complicated and challenging, especially when you want to create a simple file and send it quickly. However, PDF format will be the best option if you do not have Windows. 


When creating documents for business or work, you want an entirely reliable file format. PDF file format is very reliable as you can be sure regardless of which program is used to open the file, the data will appear exactly as you see it.

With DOC/DOCX files, the data may change according to the software. If you do not have a valid Microsoft license, the file may not open at all. 

The battle of PDF vs. DOC file formats is common and will often depend on personal preferences. However, when compared across factors like security, reliability, ease of creation, professionalism, convertibility, and editing ability, PDF is overwhelmingly the better choice.


Posted by Avatar photo
By Susan Barlow

Dr. Susan Barlow is retired from academia after teaching business administration, project management, and business writing courses for over 20 years.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *