Why Do We Advise Against Posting PDFs?

icons representing accessibility, including a wheelchair, Braille, and sign language

  1. PDFs frequently contain barriers to accessibility and often cannot be read by screen-readers. Regular webpages on Amherst.edu are accessible.
  2. PDFs are harder to update and delete, being media files. Regular webpages can be easily updated and deleted, and contain revision histories. 
  3. PDFs might not be found easily by search. Webpages with headings are more search engine-friendly.
  4. PDFs don’t contain the website’s navigation menus, so they are isolated from other content on your site.
  5. PDFs have no built-in design structure, so their readability depends on the design skills of the person making them. Content posted on Amherst.edu webpages will automatically be displayed in legible fonts with accessible color contrast.
  6. PDFs, having no built-in Amherst visual identity, might look unofficial or out of date (and often, PDFs found on the site are out of date). 

What Can I Do Instead?

Try our Formatted Article with Image display option for an easy way to make a presentable and professional webpage in lieu of a PDF.


What if I Have to Post a PDF?

In some cases, the state of Massachusetts or other regulatory entity will require certain documents to be posted as PDFs. Please see IT’s page on Accessible Documents for help making those PDFs accessible.


Questions? Contact Communications for assistance.