A large part of organizations value lies in its documents. Be it agreements, invoices, white papers or the flood of emails, retaining digital documents and business records in a manner that they cannot be easily altered is critical, for instance, for strengthening the organization’s intellectual property or in demonstrating proof in legal disputes. This legal requirements for archiving business documents mandates the need for porting different kinds of document types to a uniform, long-term format that can be searched for full text and, at the same time, can contain important metadata. As emails comprise the bulk of business communications and information exchange, the archiving format has to have the capability to handle file attachments. Pivotal to this is the consolidation of email along with the attachments into dossiers for quick and reliable accessibility. With stricter compliance and legislation regarding the privacy, protection and preservation of business data, picking the right archiving format is of paramount significance.
The ISO Standard Format
Portable Document Format or PDF format is industry standard for digital document exchange and is the ideally suited for the long-term digital archiving. But business documents come in different types, from word documents to spreadsheets, from PowerPoint slides to scanned TIFF images, from email messages to faxed documents. Archiving such myriad of file types can be a real overhead for the IT team, especially if related files are not organized and stored as a single unit. Retrieval of such documents from archive and working with these different file types can be quite a nuisance too, as one would need to have a system that have all the associated software apps installed to read them. What really would be ideal in such scenario is to have every related documents embedded or combine to a single one PDF document with bookmarks or table of content to reference the related documents or files in the document. In fact, multiple documents naturally belong together, such as quotation, sales order and invoice, or an email and its attachments. Combining such documents together makes it easy to see their relationship.
However, combining different document types to PDF is not a straightforward job. PDF editors like Adobe Acrobat can do most is to embed the different document types as attachments in native file formats to the parent PDF document. Though this arrangement may solve the nuisance of dealing with multiple files, it does little to remove the dependency of multiple software apps requirement to view the embedded attachments. Moreover, text search won’t function on the embedded attachments, a significant handicap in information discovery for the organizations. So, reducing or eliminating the need for proprietor apps of the documents is the key in successfully implementing an effective archival system.
There are certain specialized tools that aid such conversions. File to PDF is a versatile app for conversion of different types of documents into one PDF file, with table of contents inserted as bookmarks for quick accessibility of the section of the PDF document that forms the intrinsic file.
Generating a single one PDF file out of your multiple documents of different types is as easy as selecting those documents in your Windows Explorer and clicking ‘Combine to One Pdf‘ from the context menu.
And what you get is a one PDF file containing those selected documents in the sequence you have selected – all converted to PDF format themselves. Table of Contents or bookmarks are also automatically added to the final one PDF file for easy reference of individual document. As of this writing, more than 120 types of documents, including compressed ZIP file (which contains child files within) were supported for seamless conversion to PDF without external dependencies.
For combining emails and attachments to one PDF document, Email to PDF extension for Microsoft Outlook is a little app that gets the job done, with table of contents inserted as bookmarks for easy reference of the section that contains the email body and attachments.
Notice in the PDF output document below (screenshot), when the attachment is a composite or compressed file (i.e., files within a file) such as a ZIP or MSG or EML file, the PDF add-in automatically scan and include these intrinsic files into the final merged PDF document.
The PDF ISO standard opens up new opportunities for the long-term archiving of business documents and e-mails. By converting documents to PDF format for archiving instead of using the different original formats, organizations can leverage many benefits:
- Reduce the hindrance of dealing with multiple documents, say for a project or email.
- Drastically reduce the number of software apps and environment required to extract information from archived documents. PDF being universal format, one can use any devices to access information quickly and securely.
- Reduce storage space with compressed PDF
- Reduce management overhead as there are fewer documents and just one universal file format
- Because the associated documents are in PDF format, these are fully searchable.
For more information on this save as PDF apps, refer to the product page:
If you have any questions on these apps, please leave a comment below.