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Convert TIFF to PDF

Many document imaging devices, including scanners, digital copiers and fax machines capture files into TIFF format. While TIFF can be a suitable format for capture purposes, it is far from the ideal format for utilization beyond the capture process. PDF, especially compressed PDF, is a more versatile format. In order to take advantage of the many benefits that PDF has to offer, it is necessary to convert TIFF files into PDF format.

Why PDF is Better than TIFF

TIFF is an older and less evolved format than PDF. In 1987, when TIFF was originally developed, much of the functionality required by businesses today did not exist. Then, in 1992 Adobe created PDF (portable document format) with modern functionality and an eye toward future business needs.

While there have been few new enhancements to TIFF in recent years, PDF is continuously being modified and improved and is now superior to TIFF in several ways.


PDF is ideal for viewing since most computers have Adobe Reader built in. Conversely, a TIFF Reader cannot be assumed to be resident on most client machines. In addition, a PDF document will always view uniformly across platforms. The same consistency cannot be said of TIFF.

Text-Search and Retrieval

Critical documents must be retrieved with immediate, pinpoint accuracy. PDF files are designed to accommodate efficient search by virtue of their built-in hidden text layer. That means when a query is made, the actual text of the document is searched. TIFFs typically require an extraneous text file, and when the query is made, this separate file is searched. Keeping a separate text file for scanned documents is tedious, slows down the search process, and makes database conversion much more difficult. In contrast, a PDF file is entirely self-contained.

File Size

File size is critical when considering storage usage as well as speed-of-transmission over the Internet. Compressed PDF files use considerably less storage space and transmit 90% faster over the Internet than TIFF files.

A bitonal TIFF file is usually encoded using either the Group 3 encoding, e.g., fax transmission, or the Group 4 encoding, e.g., scanners and digital copiers. These compression methods are more than 15 years old and, although 15-20x smaller than the raw image file, no longer give the best compression rates. PDF, on the other hand, has support for both JBIG2, the new black and white image compression standard, and JPEG2000, the new color image compression standard.

As a result, PDFs can compress bitonal files up to 10x smaller than TIFF and color files up to 100x smaller than color TIFF with no loss in image quality.

Captured & Generated Document Support

TIFF is an image format and any TIFF file is essentially a picture of the original image. A TIFF image is viewable and printable only in bitmap form, which tends to print and display slower than documents that are electronically formatted. A PDF file can either be kept in image form or converted to electronic form. This PDF versatility allows easy conversion of both image and electronic formats to PDF.

Online Hosting

PDFs are very suitable for hosting online since they support Web streaming. In Web streaming, the first page displays as soon as it is downloaded. This same PDF optimization feature also supports opening the PDF file at any page.

File Integrity

When a 25-page document is stored, PDF maintains the original page order in one file. TIFF was primarily designed to scan single pages into storage. Since certain operations on multi-page TIFFs are difficult and not supported across viewer platforms, e.g., opening the document to a page which satisfies a search query, many database applications store a scanned document as single TIFF pages. Keeping a document preserved as a single multi-page database object, as PDF allows, is more intuitive than having each TIFF page as an attachment.


PDF sets itself apart from TIFF with a password-protected locking feature that TIFF doesn't offer. Once a document is in PDF, it can be protected against copying or editing and file access can be limited.

Preservation of Metadata

Every document contains a sub-level of information describing that document. This information is called metadata and includes such important information as author, date of creation, and comments. In conversion to PDF, all metadata is preserved. In conversion to TIFF, metadata is either lost or forced into TIFF tag fields that are non-standard and often irretrievable during a database conversion.

Moving Forward

Many companies, in a diverse cross-section of industries, already convert their TIFF files to optimized, searchable, compressed PDF. By doing so, they gain the functionality necessary to provide employees and customers alike with efficient business processes. Ultimately, converting TIFF to compressed PDF saves companies both time and money.