The last time you received a document via email, an online portal, or even through a text message, it was probably in PDF format. If you want to do the same on your own WordPress site, you’ll need a WordPress PDF viewer plugin.
Standard WordPress media uploaders can help you upload PDF files, but you may need more comprehensive features to make sure the document shows up exactly as you want it to. So before you upload another PDF to your website, take a look at this list of plugins that offer robust options for controlling the display, functionality, and design of this file format.
But before we dive into the list, let’s discuss what a PDF is and how viewer plugins can be used to your benefit.
What is a PDF?
A PDF (an abbreviation for Portable Document Format) is a standard file format that helps users view documents in a professional and clean interface. This file format lets people view the document as its creator intended, no matter the platform the creator used to produce it.
PDF embeds are easy to save and print, and if you’re running your own website, you can embed them in WordPress. Though, if you want the PDF to be visible on the front end of your site, you’ll first need to upload it on the back end of your site using a PDF viewer plugin.
Benefits of Using a PDF Viewer Plugin
Installing a PDF viewer plugin can help you:
- Keep Website Visitors On Page: Without a PDF viewer plugin, WordPress will show PDF files as links that open in new tabs. You want to increase your visitor’s time on page and have them engage with your content for as long as possible.
- Document Protection: You may want to share documents that shouldn’t be modified by the people that download them. With a PDF viewer plugin, it’ll make it harder for your documents to be edited, and even exclude them from search engine crawling.
- Better Website UI/UX: Large documents can clutter a webpage if they take up too much space. With a PDF viewer plugin, you can keep your document formatted the way you want, without having to sacrifice the appearance of your site or your user’s experience.
Your documents have the potential to help your WordPress website in more ways than one. To help you make the most out of your PDFs, we made a list of our favorite plugins.
Best PDF Viewer Plugins for WordPress
- PDF Viewer for WordPress
- PDF Embedder
- WordPress PDF Light Viewer Plugin
- PDF.js Viewer
- WooCommerce PDF Invoices & Packing Slips
- Send PDF for Contact Form 7
- Print, PDF, Email by PrintFriendly
- WooCommerce Store Catalog PDF Download
- Gravity PDF
- Real3D Flipbook WordPress Plugin
- PDF & Print by BestWebSoft
Pricing: Regular License; $40
PDF Viewer is a high-quality premium WordPress PDF viewer plugin that will help you display PDF files like Adobe Reader on your WordPress site on both mobile and desktop. It offers you controls such as print, download, zoom, share, a presentation mode, and more. You'll also be able to fully customize the viewer according to your brand.
What We Like: PDF Viewer has the ability to track how many people read and download your PDFs by connecting to Google Analytics.
2. PDF Embedder
Pricing: Free, PDF Embedder Premium; $30
Adding PDFs to your website is as easy as adding an image when you use PDF Embedder. Whether you have time to customize the way your PDF appears or you need to get a document uploaded immediately, this plugin can accommodate either workflow.
If you want more control over the way your PDFs appear on your site, you can incorporate download buttons, hyperlinks within the PDF, and more features with the premium version of this plugin.
What We Like: PDF Embedder special automatically sizes your PDF to the dimensions of the page so you don’t have to worry about an unsightly document hindering the responsiveness of your site.
Did your business just release a lengthy annual report or an industry research report? You’ll want to use a plugin like WordPress PDF Light Viewer to embed documents this large.
Unlimited files, file sizes, and lazy loading integration are just a few of the notable features that your business will want to have handy when sharing large content files, and all of these (and more) come free with this plugin.
What We Like: This plugin offers responsive design features like dashboard flipbook preview and slider thumbnails navigation.
If you're a fan of simply uploading the PDF and embedding it on the page with a shortcode, this plugin is for you. It also supports the Gutenberg block layout, making it versatile across nearly any WordPress theme (new and old), and you can customize its look.
PDF.js Viewer includes advanced search functionality which helps you work faster to find and organize PDF files as you upload them to your site.
What We Like: For longer PDF files, this plugin has a lazy loading feature that helps your website speed by loading the pages specifically navigated to over all of them at once.
Never lose track of another online order with WooCommerce PDF Invoices & Packing Slips. This plugin makes your workload easier and gives customers the confirmation they need when ordering from your store by adding a PDF invoice to the order confirmation emails sent out to your customers.
It comes with fully customizable HTML & CSS invoice templates, which you can design as per your requirements.
What We Like: WooCommerce PDF Invoices & Packing Slips also gives you the option to download the PDF invoice packing slips whenever you need them.
If you're using the Contact Form 7 plugin, you can have Send PDF for Contact Form 7 capture the submitted information in a PDF. This gives you more versatility outside the contact form plugin itself, giving you access to your submissions without having to log in to WordPress.
What We Like: This plugin guides you step by step as you personalize your PDF for your website and for email attachment.
PrintFriendly is another widely-used WordPress plugin that will automatically create a printer-friendly PDF version of your post or page without a single line of coding.
You can create a PDF button with the plugin's various customization options. This plugin will also enable users to open the PDF files in an attractive lightbox interface without directing them away from your page. From there, they can print or email the PDF version they generated.
What We Like: This plugin has an “Editable Preview” feature that allows you to edit text and imagery on PDFs.
Pricing: Individual Plan; $39, Business Plan; $79, Lifetime Unlimited; $149
Have you ever come across a website that was just too cool not to interact with? The site was probably running an interactive content plugin like EmbedPress.
This plugin does more than display the downloadable information — it gives you a platform on which to tell a story about the document. Visitors can understand what the PDF is and why it’s important before they download it and view it when you use EmbedPress to display it.
What We Like: You can use this plugin to host content from PDFs, to videos, to images, and more — even Google Maps.
WooCommerce Store Catalog PDF Download helps your website visitors download a PDF catalog of your online store with a single click.
This plugin comes with five default PDF templates, but you can create your own to suit your needs with simple HTML and CSS. It also provides you a shortcode option to add PDF download buttons to any post or page.
What We Like: With this plugin, your customers can download a catalog of your products for printing or offline viewing, and can click on products in them that redirect back to the product on the website.
10. Gravity PDF
Gravity PDF is one of the most popular WordPress form builder plugins, and it is widely used by the WordPress community to capture information. With this plugin, you will be able to view the information from each submission in a great-looking PDF file.
If you are concerned about the security of your information, this plugin offers an easy option to secure your information with a password. And for added safety, it generates PDFs on your webserver and gives none of your information to third-parties.
What We Like: When you download Gravity PDF you’re gifted four highly-customizable PDF designs to personalize and the look and branding of the documents you want to embed.
It's possible you're looking for a PDF plugin with a little more pizzazz. Flowpaper is a service that turns your original PDF layout into a seamless and interactive reading experience where users can flip through digital pages. Once it’s created, you can embed the flipbook on your site with this WordPress plugin.
What We Like: Flowpaper also has a feature for creating documents, and you can choose to make them indexable by Google. This means you’ll have an opportunity to rank in the search engine for PDF content you upload to your website.
Another fully customizable flip book option, Real3D brings a three-dimensional element to the PDF where the user can flip pages in a realistic way as the PDF bends and moves with the interaction.
You can also create multimedia-rich pages with links, buttons, videos, and more, all with the capability to be embedded and displayed on your site with this WordPress plugin.
What We Like: Not only can you share interactive flipbook PDFs, but they’re optimized for mobile devices, too, so viewers can scroll through them with their fingertips.
Pricing: Free at WordPress, Pricing with Activated Template(s); starting at $20/year
With E2Pdf, you can create dynamic PDF documents and scale your content distribution without coding, increasing headcount, or paying a monthly fee. E2Pdf integrates with your favorite form apps like Divi contact forms, Gravity forms, and WordPress forms to produce and display documents that meet your business standards.
You’ll be able to merge fields from any WordPress form with Adobe PDF Form text boxes, checkboxes, or radio buttons for truly dynamic PDF documents that your website visitors can access on the front end of your site.
What We Like: With this plugin users will have no need for third-party PDF editors, all outfits capabilities can be done in one central place.
Pricing: Free, Pro Version; $43/year
Not every website needs an embedded PDF that is prominent on the page. A “download PDF” button could be the best solution in this case. PDF & Print by BestWebSoft is a simple PDF plugin for WordPress that allows you to place a download PDF button just about anywhere on your website.
You can customize the style, set the PDF document size, and even the margins of the PDF document so that it appears exactly as you want it to.
What We Like: If you take advantage of the pro version, you’ll be able to add a watermark, adjust the PDF layout from portrait to landscape, and even change the PDF file name.
Enhance Your WordPress Website With a PDF Plugin
No matter what type of business you run, odds are you’re going to share content with your visitors and customers. Using your website to distribute PDFs is a great way to share professional, on-demand content to a wide audience, and WordPress PDF viewer plugins can help you in more ways than one. We hope you try out one of these plugins to give your visitors a content experience that will keep them coming back.
Editor's note: This post was originally published in June 2020 and has been updated for comprehensiveness.