It’s important that your carefully written Ts & Cs can’t be altered, either through accident or a deliberate attempt to change what they say – and a terms and conditions PDF is a good way to ensure this.
When you email your Ts & Cs to a customer as an attachment, a plain text document could be susceptible to edits made at the receiving end, or at the very least you might not be certain that the recipient will have the correct font or typeface, which could lead to the document displaying incorrectly on their screen.
All of these concerns are overcome when you convert the document into the PDF format – which stands for Portable Document Format, and is also used as the filename extension on a .pdf file.
You might know of PDFs from the 1990s, when the file format was first developed by Adobe, and if so you might think you need to have a registered copy of Adobe Acrobat in order to create a PDF.
This is no longer the case, and since 2007-08 PDF has become an open standard, published by the International Organization for Standardization rather than by Adobe themselves.
As a result, it’s easy to create a terms and conditions PDF from an existing text document – as simple as sending it to print, in fact.
First of all you need a PDF writer, and there are many small applications available online that can do this – just check the Ts & Cs of your chosen software to make sure you are allowed to use it for business purposes.
One popular option is CutePDF Writer, a free-to-use application with no adverts, which does not add a watermark to your PDF document, and which is specifically licensed for commercial, educational and governmental use, as well as for personal use too.
Whichever application you choose, once it is installed, it should appear on your system as a printer – this might sound strange, but it reflects the fact that you are not simply saving your document but are ‘printing’ it to a PDF file that cannot easily be edited afterwards.
Make sure your Ts & Cs are worded exactly right, and that you won’t need to make any more changes to them, and then choose File and Print in the usual way.
Choose your PDF writer as opposed to any physical printer you may have installed, and click ‘Options’ or ‘Preferences’ to make last-minute changes like page size and colour or monochrome.
Importantly, your PDF writer’s options might include the ability to embed your chosen font into the file – this means that when the recipient opens the file, it will display in the correct typeface, even if they do not have it installed on their system.
When you have chosen all of the relevant options, and click ‘Print’, obviously the document shouldn’t appear on paper anywhere.
Instead, the computer processes all of the information to prepare a virtual ‘printed’ document, and then pops up a window asking you to choose a filename and where to save your new PDF.
Once this is done, you should be able to browse to the file on your hard drive, and attach it to emails when setting up new client accounts or as a reminder when sending out invoices.
Just remember to check that your terms and conditions PDF has saved correctly, with all of the wording clearly legible and so on, and there should be no problems later down the line.