Help Viewing Adobe Acrobat PDF Files

Some documents on the Illinois EPA web site, particularly forms and reports, are made available as Adobe Acrobat PDF files. These files end with the extension ".pdf". If you have having problems viewing these files, this page might help.

Basic Information

Which files are Acrobat files?

Acrobat files end with the extension ".pdf" in the filename and are indicated with the Acrobat PDF logo following the link, like this.

Do I need Acrobat to view Acrobat files?

You do not need the Acrobat software (which is a commercial product), but you do need the Acrobat Reader software (which is available for free download from Adobe's web site). In addition, some web browsers include a built-in Acrobat PDF file viewer, although it is unable to view some types of PDF files. (See below for details.)

How do I install Acrobat Reader?

It is likely that Acrobat Reader has already been installed on your computer. If not, you will need to install it:

  1. Download the software from the Acrobat Reader download page at Adobe's web site, following their instructions. (Remember the location on your computer where you downloaded the software.)
  2. Find the downloaded softare on your computer and double-click it to run the installation program. Follow the instructions to complete the installation.

How do I download a PDF file to my computer?

  1. Use your mouse to right-click on the link.
  2. From the menu that appears, choose "Save Target As..." or "Save Link As...".
  3. When the "Save As" dialog box is displayed, choose a location on your computer for the file. Remember this location so you can find the file later. (Make sure the filename ends with a ".pdf" extension, as this will identify it as an Acrobat file.)

How do I view a PDF file after I have downloaded it?

Find the downloaded PDF file on your computer, then double-click it to view it. Acrobat will start and display the file.


I can view some PDF files, but not others. What should I do?

This might be caused by:

  • a very large PDF file
  • a slow Internet connection
  • a built-in PDF viewer that cannot display some types of PDF files (see below for more details)

You can often view these files successfully if you download them to your computer first. (See below for instructions.)

I get a message saying "your PDF viewer may not be able to display this type of document." What should I do?

This generally indicates either that you have an old version of the Acrobat Reader or that your web browser is using a built-in PDF viewer that is unable to display some types of PDF files.

  • If you are not using the latest version, visit Adobe's Acrobat Reader download page to download and install it.
  • If your web browser is using a built-in PDF viewer, follow Adobe's instructions to disable it so that your web browser will use the Acrobat Reader instead. Alternatively, download the PDF file to your computer (as described above), then view the downloaded copy.

Some PDF files look bad. Is there a problem with them?

Computer monitors display files at about 95 DPI (dots per inch). Printers generally print files at 300 DPI, 600 DPI, or more. If a file was generated at 95 DPI, it will look good on your computer monitor, but can look a bit fuzzy when printed. Similarly, if a file was generated at 300 DPI or more, it will look good when printed, but can sometimes look odd when viewed on your computer monitor. So, if a PDF file looks odd on screen, try printing it.

I've followed the advice given here, but I'm still having problems viewing some PDF files.

Are you using an older version of the Acrobat Reader software? Most Acrobat files generated using a new version of the software can still be viewed using an older version. However, there are sometimes problems. If you are not using the latest version, visit Adobe's Acrobat Reader download page to download and install it.