Frequently Asked Questions about PDFs

Alaska Sea Grant offers many titles in digital PDF format. Some are free, while others are available for purchase by the chapter or by the entire book.

This page is designed to answer your questions about our PDFs. If you have additional questions, please send an e-mail message to or call us between 8:30 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. Alaska time Monday through Friday at (888) 789-0090.

About PDFs

What is a PDF file?

PDF is an acronym for Portable Document Format. The PDF file format created by Adobe Systems, Inc., is a self-contained, cross-platform document. In plain language, it is a file that will look the same on the screen and in print regardless of what kind of computer or printer someone is using and regardless of what software package was originally used to create it. Although they contain the complete formatting of the original document, including fonts and images, PDF files are highly compressed, allowing complex information to be downloaded efficiently.

What software do I need to read a PDF?

You will need either Adobe Acrobat Reader (a free software program available from Adobe Systems, Inc.) or a PDF viewer in your Web browser.

What hardware is necessary for reading PDFs?

Almost any Internet-connected computer that has a hard drive can be used. Microsoft Windows, Macintosh, Linux, and most other operating systems have means of reading Adobe Acrobat PDF files.

What browser should I use?

You may use the Adobe Acrobat Reader as a stand-alone program to read these books or chapters. However, many people use the built-in Adobe Acrobat viewer within Firefox, Internet Explorer, Safari, or other popular browsers.

How long will it take for me to download a PDF file from your Web site?

The time it will take you to download our PDF files depends on the type of connection you have and the size of the document. The following table provides estimated times.

Estimated time to download the average chapter

28.8K About 3–4 minutes
56 K About 2 minutes
T1/Cable/DSL Less than 1 minute

Estimated time to download the average book

28.8K About 30 minutes
56K About 15 minutes
T1/Cable/DSL Less than 3 minutes

What's the best strategy if I'm on a very slow, bad line?

Try downloading individual chapters instead of the entire book, or start the whole-book download at the end of the day, before you go to sleep, and let it download overnight.

Where should I download these files?

We recommend creating a special folder just for your books, and downloading to that folder.

How do I view or print my downloaded files?

To view or print your downloaded files, you must have Adobe Acrobat Reader loaded on your computer. In Windows Explorer or other file management program, locate the drive and folder where you downloaded your files and double click on the filename. At that point, Acrobat will open and display your PDF file for viewing. To print the file, use the printing function in Acrobat.

Why are some PDF files on your site searchable and others are not?

Most of the PDF files on our site are fully searchable. They are called "native" PDF files and are created from source files. A few of the PDF files are created from pictures of the pages, and are called "scanned image" PDF files. These are very large. We create this type of PDF when no source files are available.

May I share my PDF with others?

We have two distinct classes of PDFs, each with its own sharing restrictions: free PDFs and purchased PDFs. For all of our PDFs, substantial or systematic reproduction is not permitted. Distributing or posting the PDF files is strictly prohibited without written permission from Alaska Sea Grant.

Purchased PDFs: Unless the copyright statement within the PDF specifies otherwise, all of the content is copyrighted by Alaska Sea Grant. You may print single copies of purchased PDFs solely for your personal, noncommercial use.

Free PDFs: PDFs that you download for free can be shared for noncommercial, educational purposes only. If you share the PDF, you cannot alter it. It must include the original copyright statement and the Web address of the online, full authoritative version. To distribute or post the PDF files in any other context is strictly prohibited without written permission from Alaska Sea Grant.

Spread the word! Please tell your friends and colleagues about these free resources and encourage them to download their own copies.

Please see our terms of use statement for additional information

Ordering PDFs

How do I order a PDF file?

There are links for ordering PDFs on the Web page for the individual book, if that book is available in PDF format. If you know a book is available as a PDF but have any trouble locating the link, please send an e-mail message to or call us between 8:30 a.m. and 5:00 p.m. Alaska time Monday through Friday at (888) 789-0090.

What are my options for purchasing PDF files?

You may order a PDF file of the full text of the book, individual chapter files, or a combination of the printed book and the full text PDF file. The combination of the PDF and the printed book is our best value.

PDF BOOKS, PDF BUNDLES, and PDF CHAPTERS may only be ordered online.

Can I order PDF files over the phone or with a purchase order?

No. In order to purchase PDFs, you must use the website and pay with a valid credit card. We cannot take orders for PDF files over the phone, fax, or via the mail or e-mail. Other methods of payment (check or purchase order) cannot be processed.

Will I be taxed on my PDF purchase?


Downloading Purchased PDFs

If I purchase a PDF, when can I have access to the files?


How do I download purchased PDF files?

After you complete your online order, your receipt will contain links to download your PDF files. This online receipt may not be available after you leave the receipt and download page, so you may want to download the files right away. You will also receive an e-mail receipt with the links, as long as you entered your e-mail address correctly and no spam filters diverted it. You can use the download links in the e-mail receipt when your online receipt is no longer available.

Different computers place files downloaded from the Internet in different locations. Your browser may ask you where to store the file, or may automatically download it to your computer desktop or a special download folder. If you think a link may not have worked, check these places first before attempting to re-download a file.

How long will the PDF files that I purchased be available for download?

You will have 3 days from your date of purchase to download the files. If you have any problems downloading the files within this window, please contact us. After downloading, please make sure you can open each PDF, so that you can retry downloading before the links expire if necessary.

Do I have to download the entire PDF file at once?

Yes, since each PDF bulletin, book or chapter is a single file.

What if there's a communication hiccup when I'm downloading a large file?

Most browsers will endeavor to "start back up" on their own, but this may corrupt the resulting PDF file. If you try to open a file and you get an error message indicating file damage, simply re-download the book or chapters.

What if I change computers?

PDF files can be transferred to another computer in the same manner as any other computer file.