The Rich Text Format (often abbreviated RTF) is a proprietary document file format with published specification developed by Microsoft Corporation since 1987 for Microsoft products and for cross-platform document interchange.
Most word processors are able to read and write some versions of RTF. There are several different revisions of RTF specification and portability of files will depend on what version of RTF is being used. RTF specifications are changed and published with major Microsoft Word and Office versions.
It should not be confused with enriched text (mimetype "text/enriched" of RFC 1896) or its predecessor Rich Text (mimetype "text/richtext" of RFC 1341 and 1521); nor with IBM's RFT-DCA (Revisable Format Text-Document Content Architecture) which are completely different specifications.
A Portable Document Format (pdf) file 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.