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So what gives: would you
a) immediately destroy any quote sent to you as PDF
b) be delighted and sign the deal immediately?
MS office is a premium priced MS package.
Documents created in later versions of MS Office components will not always display properly if openned in earler versions. Unless password protected contents can be easily tampered with as can display and layout.
Acrobat or rather pdf stands for "Portable Document Format" the reader is free and therfore it is more compatible to multiuser platforms.
Contents are also I think less easy to tamper with.
But then I tend to think it's like using Outlook: Everybody knows it's a product with severe security flaws, but still every single business mail I get is an Outlook mail.
PDF: Does really everybody have a reader? I would hate to force people to download software.
If I receive a document in Office format, I'm generaly irked. It's easier for me to deal with than it used to be, since OpenOffice has gotten better and AbiWord handles MS Word smoothly now, but I don't like it.
I'd be careful not to use the latest and greatest features from the newest version of Acrobat, but it's been quite some time now since I last sat down at a machine that couldn't open a PDF at all. The machine I'm using right now has three different programs that can view PDFs, without even having Acrobat Reader installed.
For true (er, the closest you're going to be able to come to) cross platform/OS compatibility, RTF is the way to go. Windows comes with Wordpad that will read the RTF and Mac has a comparable editor (I forget the name) that can read the RTF format.
I think first impressions count, and i just think word and other text formats dont match a document produced in quark and saved as PDF.
But i also know its in the post so if the customer cannot open the document, they will have a hard copy within the next few days anyway.
This also gives me a chance to add a bit more marketing gumph too :)
I don't think the format of the quote being sent will make or break your business, but it will certainly lend a sense of professionalism.
We send an email, with the PDF attached, and a link to Acrobats download site. We also mention in the email that if they require the quote in a different format, we'll gladly send a word or excel document right away.
I think PDF provides the best design options, and can make a quote look quite professional.
I also occasionally send a quote by straight email. These are usually for smaller jobs or existing clients that just want a quick price to do something.
I don't care for doc or pdf myself. When I receive a quote from someone in either, I'll ask for text. That makes it much easier to track in email programs than being required to convert or do something with the doc.
With a doc file, it is read it once and toss it if I don't like it. If it's text, it may set around visible in the inbox for a few weeks while I mull it over.
There are also a growing number of Linux users out there, and not all are going to be able to deal with pdfs or doc files without jumping through some hoops. If you deal with system people at all, there is no other format than Text that should be used without ANY encoding - including quoted printable. I've had my head bitten off for trying to send a sysadmin a doc file before - I know it is why I didn't get the bid.
If the client wants some demo of one kind or another I agree, put up a page or two access restricted and email them a link and password.
>> I'd be interested in hearing drawbacks to using html. <<
People (like me) dont like getting html emails is one reason. The other if you do it online, is the extra hassle of putting up and managing lots of new passwords for each quote etc .. some of which clients will not be able to read. Plus there is that fact that unless they are able to change their password immediately on logging on, the password was sent by normal email and as such your quotation is now not as completely private as you thought it might be .. mind you the same could be said for any emailed quote in text pdf or doc.
Oh BTW a serious reason why not to send quotes or any other comms as Doc files.
Various versions of Word (perhaps other office components too) apparently have a bug in which they can include random text from other items on your hard disk. There are some articles on the net - plus open an empty white sheet of ms word and save it, see how large it is .. what is all that .. are you sure .. open it in code and look at all that stuff .. why is a blank sheet of paper so big file size .. no idea as to the truth of the bug text inclusion but that could look silly if a client learnt of another this way or perhaps if your bank details or private emails etc etc .. Anyone know definitive status of this bug?
BTW I agree with previous posters mentioning do what the client wants. Its not hard to ask what format they prefer and go with that.
There are details. I don't know them because I don't, can't, and don't want to use Word, but you can find out more than you ever wanted to know about them by looking up "Woody's Office Watch" (at woodyswatch.com) and going through the archives.
Microsoft Office docs (such as Excel and Word) can have macros in them, the apps themselves have been known to have bugs that can leave your system exploitable, and there are known viruses that take advantage of all of the above.
Adobe PDF files simply don't suffer from the same issues (well, so far, anyway).
When I used Microsoft Office, I would always think twice about opening a .doc or .xls (now I use Open Office so it isn't really an issue), but I've never had the same level of paranoia when dealing with PDFs.
Also, the purist in me likes the fact that the PDF file format is 'open' in nature, well documented and has good support from other tools (and platforms), whereas the Microsoft Office file formats are definitely 'closed'.
Nowadays, all of the docs I send out are in PDF (except when I put together HTML, and simply send a link).
A year or two back when i developed the quote deployment system for our company, I debated what format I would use. i did not want an office product.. I did not want PDF because you will always ALWAYS get some feeb who cannot figure out a PDF document. And if they do not have it installed on their machine, and they have to go download, they are going to whine.
HTML is nice and clean, it can look good, it is easily emailed, it can print nice, and if they found your site through the web, then they can open up the html.
Just my suggestion.
Provide a link to it in an email to your client eg
blah blah blah you can view the proposal at
and hey presto, guaranteed readability. :)
However, every client I've ever dealt with has demanded Word, period. But then, most of my work has been for publishers and advertising agencies, where the biggest question isn't "Word, PDF, or something else?" but "Which word--Windows or Mac?"
Fax and even snail mail needs considerations as well.
Probably more market dependent and even client specific than we all realize:
Mom & Pop business; more likely dialup or not at all,
an Inc; high-speed,
ad agencies would likely prefer; a PDF,
environmentalists; anything non-paper but small,
an Internet pure play; web based
a web designer; Flash with lots of moving parts! :)
government .. who the heck knows?
Make it a point to ask first rather than be embarrassed.
I don't like sending or receiving Word documents, but I do send large ad agencies and large companies MS Word... They're image conscious and appearances count.
Otherwise, I send only plain text... and I prefer working in plain text throughout the project.
Several tricky thing about plain text documents...
- I can't bold or underline, so I find myself separating sections with all caps headings and the like, and being very conscious of line spacing to distinguish one section from another.
- I'm never sure what font they're going to use, and I know that text columns may not line up if they print in variable width face.
If I do send Word documents, I use the fonts that I'd use on a website... nothing fancy that might get changed if they don't have the font installed. I should probably get around to creating a gif of my letterhead so I can embed it without worrying about fonts.