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How to optimize a PDF for mobile devices

by MATT STOKES | JULY 27, 2017

One of my clients is a political organization that wanted to distribute its recommendations to voters on Election Day. Traditionally, this would be a “punch card”—a pocket-sized piece of sturdy cardboard paper clipped from a mailer or a newspaper ad. But we had a short turnaround time and we wanted to do something a little more modern, so we came up with the idea of encouraging voters to use their phones in the voting booth and pull up this organization’s recommendations that way.

I designed a nice-looking list of recommendations but, once I’d saved it as a PDF and pulled it up on my phone, I was frustrated that it wouldn’t fit a mobile screen.


It looked something like this.

I wanted the image to appear designed for mobile phones—because, after all, that was its point for being. So I recreated the list in Adobe Illustrator as a graphic, using the dimensions for the most popular smart phones. I exported the final image as a PDF, pulled it up on my phone, and just like that, I’d found a quick, elegant solution.


Much better, with nothing cut off.

Final product ready to go, we uploaded the PDF to the organization’s website, and voters were able to enter the voting booth and pull up a sleek PDF optimized just for their phones.

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