The future of contract handling is 100% web-based, HTML contracts.

As businesses begin to realize the benefits of digitizing their biggest assets – contracts – it also marks the beginning of the end of PDF contracts.

PDF contract is not future proof. Surely you can attach an electronic signature to your PDF file and call it a “digital contract”, but you will not experience the benefits of a true “digital contract” based on HTML (HTML contract).

PDF is an image format. Think about it: why do you want to see a picture of paper when you are sitting in front of your computer screen? At Oneflow, we believe that PDF contracts will more or less die out within the next 10 years.

For starters, PDF is an abbreviation for Portable Document Format. The biggest advantage of PDF is that it retains the exact appearance of a document, no matter what platform is used to view or print it.

HTML is the language of the Web. HTML documents are thus designed for on-screen viewing and interactivity. They are intended to be accessed via computers whenever needed rather than to be printed.

For many, choosing to work with PDF contracts is often a decision made out of convenience rather than rationale.

Click to download "the future of contracts" infographic.

If you are still deciding whether to stick to your old PDF contracts or to favor HTML contracts, here are the six major factors to consider.

Readability on mobile devices

  • PDF contract is not responsive – you will need to zoom in and scroll to read a contract on your smartphone
  • HTML contract is responsive and looks stunning regardless of screen size

Data portability

  • PDF contract is like an image – you cannot easily extract any data from your contract
  • HTML contract is, uh well, digital – you can easily extract and export contract data to be accessed somewhere else, such as in your CRM system


  • Yeah okay, you can search for a certain term or phrase in your PDF contract but you cannot do a search across all your PDF contracts in one go
  • You can search and filter by tags, date or keyword across all your HTML contracts in one go – it’s like googling for your contracts with spreadsheet functions

Integrity of content

  • PDF contracts can be easily modified by others without leaving any digital footprints if this is not set up properly from the start – even if it is set up properly, it is difficult to enforce control
  • HTML contracts give the author full control to determine what and who can modify the contract plus providing a complete audit trail

Risks of error

  • Creating new PDF contracts often requires you to find the source file, most probably in Word, then edit as you wish, and do a Save as PDF – of which during the process, there is nothing to check for errors or to prevent unintentional removal of important paragraphs
  • HTML contract templates are centralized and dynamic, allowing the author to lock certain sections and control parts that are modifiable – making sure that there is minimal risk of error and compliance to rules and policies

Version handling

  • PDF contract is as static as a paper contract, you can add comments but it all can end up pretty messy as more stakeholders are involved – plus there is no easy way to tell if every user has worked on the latest version of the contract
  • Everything around a HTML contract is tracked and only the latest version is worked on – plus every user is notified when someone has interacted with the contract

Talk to us

Want to know more about HTML contracts or the future of contract handling? We’d love to hear from you.