For an imaged electronic document to be admissible in a court
of law, it must be created in a file format that cannot be
altered without leaving an electronic footprint. To
satisfy this requirement, the document imaging industry has
diverged in two different directions:
PDF File Format:
A PDF file is a "read only" document that cannot be
altered without leaving an electronic footprint, and meets
all legal requirements to be admissible in a court of law.
Furthermore, the PDF file format is practical and
economical by allowing the documents to be stored on a
company's server. This eliminates the need for additional
hardware (except for additional hard drive space) and
allows for exceptional integration into any network.
TIFF, JPEG, GIF File Format: Because these file
formats can be easily altered without leaving an
electronic footprint, it is necessary to copy them at the
time of scanning directly to an optical drive or read-only
drive. Documents on an optical drive cannot be removed or
changed, making them legal in a court of law. However,
optical drive systems have considerable expenses attached
to them as a result of the need for optical drive -
scanning integration. In addition, optical drives bare
hefty hardware price-tags and significant network
A PDF document meets all the legal
requirements necessary to stand up in a court of law!
The cost of an optical drive system maintenance is
significantly higher than PDF file format maintenance:
PDF File Format:
Requires only the routine backup normally performed on the
server or hard drive of a stand-alone system.
TIFF, JPEG, GIF File Format: Requires more technical
expertise and is not recommended for businesses without
an on-site IT professional.
File Format Specification Comparison
Tagged Image File Format (TIFF)
Virtually every document imaging system uses the Tagged Image File
Format (TIFF) with CCITT Group 4 compression for image
By utilizing TIFF's strengths, such as tiling and banding,
image vendors have been able to accommodate a wide range
of application needs.
TIFF images tend to be much larger that most other image
formats, making TIFF a poor choice for batch-mode forms
being processed over the Internet.
TIFF format requires compatible viewers to be installed at
every workstation for display and output requirements.
Many PCs are prepackaged with basic TIFF viewer utilities,
but these often are not sufficient as proprietary
annotations are not generally supported. TIFF is not
easily streamed over the Internet, requiring the entire
file to be received before viewing. As a result, the end
user must employ a broadband connection for efficient
Joint Photographic Experts Group (JPEG)
For storing and displaying color or grayscale photographic
material, there is no better format than JPEG. While a
comparable density in JPEG format is much larger than a
comparable TIFF, adequate viewing can be achieved at a
lower density. JPEG files will begin displaying segments
of a recognizable image as it streams, without requiring
the entire file to be transmitted. JPEG also supports
watermarks and digital signatures.
Graphics Interchange Format (GIF)
GIF format has evolved into a commonly used format for
bitmap graphics on the Internet. Browsers often display
GIFs using their native code; however, they are not suited
for business document imaging. The special features, such
as animation, are not of value in a business setting. In
addition, the poor compression of the GIF format makes it
less appealing to businesses in comparison to other
Portable Document Format (PDF)
The PDF format was originally developed by Adobe for the
U.S. Federal Government to store its legacy files.
Currently, the U.S. Federal Government is still the
largest user of PDF technology. Most individuals have
encountered the PDF format when downloading electronic tax
forms from the IRS.
PDF format has been a de facto Internet standard. It
guarantees that the image seen by the viewer is congruent
across all platforms. While PDF requires a viewer, it is
readily available as freeware called Adobe Acrobat Reader.
PDF files have metadata, such as XML tables of content and
links, making images more useful to end users. PDF files
support security privileges, watermarking and signing,
resulting in tools that exist to protect intellectual
capital. Also, PDF files can be streamed by page,
providing the responsiveness that browser users expect.
One significant attribute of PDF format is the superior
appearance of the printed copy when reproduced using a
high quality printer. Image and text characteristics of
PDF files tend to reproduce very well under most display
and output configurations.