Portable Document Format is one of the more common file types that make up publications on geopubs. In general, PDFs are provided for onscreen viewing, but we also use PDF as a reliable way to print page-size documents. We also provide PDFs of large map sheets. Although PDFs can be plotted, we have found that PostScript (.ps) files or Encapsulated PostScript (.eps) files are slightly more reliable when plotting large map sheets. In particular, PDFs aren't as true to scale.
The term "printing" as used here refers to printing page-size (8.5- x 11-inch) or somewhat larger documents. The term "plotting" refers to using a large-format (36-inches wide and beyond) plotter. In some cases (particularly for our I-map series), we provide two different PostScript versions of a map when it is too large to be plotted on a 36-inch-wide plotter.
To view a PDF file, you must have Acrobat Reader, which is available free from Adobe Software. A link to the download page for the current version of Acrobat Reader (5.0) is provided on every publication on geopubs that includes PDF documents.
Depending on how you have Acrobat Reader set up to work with your web browser, a PDF file on the web will either download to your hard disk or open within your browser. To change the way Acrobat Reader works with your browser, see the preferences menu in your web browser. We leave it up to end users to determine how to view PDF files.
Version Number Makes a Difference!
Some PDFs (namely, page-size documents) can be viewed with Acrobat Reader version 3.0, version 4.0, or version 5.0. However, any document that is larger than 45 inches by 45 inches CANNOT be viewed with Acrobat Reader version 3.0. In many cases, Acrobat Reader version 3.0 will open a file containing a large map, but it will display a blank screen with no error message. This is a frequently encountered problem for users. To download the latest version of Acrobat Reader for free, visit the Adobe website.
Accessibility of PDF Documents
If you use a screen reader to navigate on the world wide web, not all PDF documents at this site (geopubs.wr.usgs.gov) are currently accessible. However, it is our goal to make all our documents accessible to everyone.
The first step to using PDF documents is getting a copy of Acrobat Reader, which is available for free. Adobe maintains a text-only download page on their website for Acrobat Reader.
Adobe maintains another website that includes many tools, resources, and information to help people with visual disabilities work with PDF documents.
There will be a difference in the tools you need to use PDF with a screen reader depending on which version of Acrobat Reader you have. If you do not have any copies of Acrobat Reader, the best choice is to install Acrobat Reader version 5.0. If you already have a copy of Acrobat Reader version 4.0, you will need to download the Adobe Acrobat Access for Windows version 4.05 to read PDF documents, which is also available on their text-only website.
If you have trouble accessing any of the PDF documents available at this website, please call our toll-free number 1-888-275-8747 (1-888-ASK-USGS) or contact the site maintainer listed at the bottom of each publication on geopubs.
Please refer to our general help page if you have questions not involving PDF.
Please note that the mention of product names on this page does not imply endorsement by the U.S. Government