File Properties Data is Important

Today’s article is more of a tip than an opinion piece or a product review.

I often create documents in Word, Publisher, InDesign, Photoshop, etc. But I also use a feature of those programs that many folks don’t think much about. I make sure to identify myself as the creator of that document.

That’s important, because many of these documents are either passed along to others “as is”, or they are exported as PDF files first before passing to other folks. And I want my own “intellectual property” to be identified as such.

When you sit down at the computer to create a document in these programs, some documents will automatically pick up some of this data. For example, a new document in Word picks up my name “Nancy Pickering” as the author. That information lives elsewhere on my computer, but Word finds it and includes it for me.

But here’s a situation that’s even more important: what if I’m working on the layout of a document for a client? They created a draft document and sent it to me for adding design elements. Let’s say I create a new blank document with all the design elements in place, and then pour in the text from the draft. That new version will show my name as the author – but the client doesn’t want to have my name as the author, they want to have their own name as the author. And if I finish the file with those properties unedited, and it’s exported as a PDF and sent to the client, they will not be able to edit that information themselves after the fact.

Therefore, it’s important you know where and how to declare or edit the information that should be saved with the file. In Microsoft products, depending on which version you have and assuming your file is open, go to the File menu and click the Properties item. Or go to the Office button and click Prepare, and then Properties. In Adobe products, go to the File Menu and click on the File Info item. In either case, you’ll be presented with a dialog box where you can enter such information as Title, Subject, Author, Company, Keywords, Comments, Category, and Status. Fill in as much as is appropriate, at the very least the first three. Then save the file. Now when you export the file as a PDF, that data will be picked up and included with that file. And your client will properly get the credit they deserve as the author of the piece. Ditto if the author really is you and you want to ensure the credit goes to you.

One more hint. If you plan on distributing your PDF as a downloaded eBook from your web site, don’t forget to fill in the “keywords” field in the Properties area. Doing so just may boost your search engine rankings for your web site for that topic.