MS Word VS PDF: What is Better for Your Business and Tax Documentation

Conversion to electronic documents in an everyday workflow is an excellent opportunity not only to reduce the cost of office supplies but also to speed up the information exchange over the Internet. But what file type is the best to use?

In this article, we will give you a tangent guide to choosing between two formats: PDF or Word, for your business documents and tax forms, e.g., W-2 and 1099-MISC.

Challengers: Word and PDF

MS Word processor is one of the most popular in the world to deal with text. It was developed to work in MS Windows and allow you to create any documents, letters, thesis projects or forms. Microsoft regularly updates this program, changing the interface, adding new features and capabilities. But new versions differ from each other and there could be the conflicts to open files on different devices.

Word’s competitor is Portable Document Format or PDF, which is not just a well-known and convenient, but also the only one that has been standard since 2008. It was developed by a team of Adobe Systems. The developers set themselves the task of creating such a format for displaying content so that it opens and looks the same on any device.

Nowadays, PDF is widely used in publishing and printing, in the distribution of electronic versions of the media, in the publication of reports, tax report preparing, business management and simply to exchange information.

PDF for Electronic Documentation Management

Working with business documentation or IRS forms we pass through the main steps: document creation, transfer (assign to responsible persons, publication, etc.) and storage. The MS Word presents a clear advantage on the first step. But at the next stages, the PDF grabs all the advantages:

  1. Contracts, agreements or tax forms can be easily opened on any platform using free software for reading.  
  2. Documents look the same in any reading program and system.  
  3. This file format excludes the ability to accidentally make changes or delete some content.
  4. PDF usually does not contain viruses. The fact is that files created in MS Word can contain them.   
  5. It has ISO standardization for archival storage and records sharing.
  6. It takes up a compact space because it supports many compression algorithms.
  7. Security: user can configure security settings for his PDF, e.g., print restriction, edit prohibition, use electronic signatures to authenticate the record, etc.
  8. Some experts associate it with a paperless office.

Talking about standardization by ISO you can be totally secure to send your tax forms in portable document format directly to IRS.

In addition to PDF’s versatility, it gives many benefits for your business and tax documentation. Among them is the convenience of navigating through large documents thanks to a system of internal links; and correct display on mobile devices under Android, iOs, Symbian OS, Pocket PC; as well as compactness (small file size) and – what we are most interested in right now – the wide possibilities of data protection.

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