At FAO we use PDFs (Portable Document Format), to provide universal access to our publications. The PDF is the de facto standard for the secure and reliable distribution and exchange of electronic documents, images and forms.

PDFs look exactly like original documents and preserve source file information - text, drawings, 3D, full-color graphics, photos, and even business logic - regardless of the application used to create them.

It is estimated that there are more than 200 million PDF documents on the web today: compact, complete, and trusted, they can be shared, viewed, and printed by anyone with the free Acrobat Reader software installed on their computer. Click here to download the free Acrobat Reader from the Adobe website, and follow the instructions for installation. The Reader is available for a variety of platforms and languages, and can be read by any computer (Macintosh, Windows or UNIX).

Once you have installed the Acrobat Reader on your computer, you can download any of our freely available publications by doing the following:

PC users: right click on the link. Select "Save Target As" to copy the PDF to your hard disk.

Mac users: Click and hold on the link. Select "Download Link to disk".

Download speeds are affected by various factors: total traffic on the Internet; your ISP's (Internet Service Provider) capabilities; the time of day; and if you are in a network environment, other traffic on your network. The rule of thumb that applies is: smaller is faster.

If you have a 56k modem connection, individual file transfer will travel at 4,000 bytes per second. (Divide your modem's speed by 10; claimed transfer speeds are nearly always over-optimistic). Downloading a 1 megabyte file (roughly 1,000,000 bytes) would therefore take around 4 minutes. An ADSL connection (roughly 10 times faster), will take approximately 30 seconds.

We provide a full version of the PDF of our publications, for those with a fast Internet connection; and smaller files (broken down into more manageable sizes, and numbered sequentially), for users with a slower Internet connection. For example, you might see PDF files for a given publication numbered as a516e00.pdf, a516e01.pdf, a516e02.pdf, etc. Each individual file is a bite-size piece of the whole publication. If the user downloads all these numbered files, he/she will then have the entire publication on their computer.

When possible, we also offer the .zip alternative, which allows a user with a medium-to-fast connection to download the complete set of smaller files simultaneously.

Some common problems, and ways to resolve them.

1. the PDF file won't open, or the file opens, and then "freezes".

Make sure first that you have the most recent version of Acrobat Reader installed on your machine. Some PDFs use security features that may not run in older versions. (consult the "About" file in the Acrobat main menu.)

Check the file size: if the file is over 1-1.5 Mb, it may be difficult to open. Choose the smaller files option for downloading documents from the FAO Corporate Document repository (e.g. download each chapter separately).

Check your connection speed settings in Acrobat. Follow these steps:

  • Open the Edit drop-down menu
  • click on the Preferences to view your Internet connection speed. If your connection is by telephone, the speed should be set between 28 and 56K; if you have cable or ISBN, the speed should be set at 256K.
2. links in the PDF don't work.

if either external (leading to other PDF documents) or internal (for navigating inside the same document) links do not work, please contact the Document Repository at: Document-Repository@fao.org giving the link, which you will find in the link window of your browser (it will look something like this: http://www.fao.org/docrep/008/y7867e/y7867e00.htm)

3. a message appears, stating "URL not found".

The problem is not with the PDF but with the link. Please contact the Document Repository.

Remember that Adobe Acrobat Reader offers extensive help through its Help file on the main menu.

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