PDF Library • Search Titles • A–Z Title List • What's New
Join | Log In
Donate to the SEP
© Metaphysics Research Lab, CSLI, Stanford University Join | Log In | Help Frequently Asked Questions * Is the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy still freely available?
General Issues with PDF versionsG.1 The PDF version won't open or looks damaged in my PDF viewer. Can you fix it? G.2 What advantages do the PDF versions have over the HTML versions? G.3 What are the disadvantages of the PDF versions? G.4 On my computer, it is difficult to select text from a single column when the PDF is in two-column format. How do I electronically select text in your PDFs? G.5 How do I cite these PDFs?
Viewing/Download Issues with PDF versionsV.1 I am a Friends Society member and when I log in, preview a PDF, and click on “US Letter”, “A4”, or “Single-Column” to download an entry, nothing happens. What has gone wrong? V.2 I want to view the Sample Entry. But when I drag the image of the sample entry to my desktop, it is only one page, and prints very small. How do I get the Sample Entry? V.3 How do I view these PDFs on my Kindle? V.4 How do I view these PDFs on my iPhone?
Access to PDF versionsA.1 Is every entry in the SEP available in PDF format? A.2 I am an Associate (or Student) Member. What does it mean to say that I can download up to 5 entries within a 24-hour period? A.3 What if I inadvertently delete or lose a PDF version I downloaded? A.4 How frequently do you generate new PDFs? A.5 What if the author changes the entry after I download it? A.6 The entry on X is published at https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/X/, but I can't find the PDF at the Friends Society webpages. Where is it?
Distributing PDF versionsD.1 May I email the PDFs I download to friends or colleagues? D.2 I am teaching a class. May I put a PDF version in a course reader for my students? D.3 I am an SEP author. May I email the PDF version of my own entry to colleagues or put the PDF version a web server (e.g., link the PDF version into the list of publications on my home page)?
Membership AdministrationM.1 How will I recognize the membership dues transaction on my credit card statement? M.2 Why can't you respond to voicemail as quickly as to email? M.3 Are my membership dues tax deductible? M.4 Why can't I join the Friends of the SEP Society by way of a email message, phone/voicemail message, or letter that contains my credit card number? M.5 I don't have a credit card, but I do have a PayPal account. Can I join the Friends of the SEP Society using my PayPal account?
Answers to Questions
* Is the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy still freely available?
Answer: Yes, the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy is still a freely available, open access dynamic reference work and the project leaders remain committed to open access. The HTML versions of our entries are accessible to everyone on the Internet, at the website:
Readers can be assured that the content of the PDFs is freely available in HTML.
General Issues with PDF versions
G.1 The PDF version won't open or looks damaged in my PDF viewer. Can you fix it?
- If you are seeing an error message saying that the file is damaged and can't be opened, then please be aware of a bug in some browser plug-ins (e.g., Adobe, Chrome plug-ins) that corrupts the file sent from our server. We've verified that the file saved by these plug-ins not the same file sent from our server. The good news is that there is a workaround:
- On the Friends PDF Preview page, right-click (Windows) or control-click (Mac) on the PDF link for the version you want.
- Select “Save Link As…” (Windows) or “Download Linked File As” (Mac), and choose a location on your computer's hard drive when prompted, to save the PDF.
- Navigate to the file in your computer's File Viewer, and open it with Adobe, or Foxit, or Preview, or any other PDF reader.
- The file should now open without reporting any errors.
- If you are seeing a major formatting issue (e.g., multiple blank pages at the end of the PDF, the text is blurred, lines overwrite each other, the pages are improperly offset, etc.), check to see whether your PDF viewer (Adobe Reader, Preview, FoxIt, etc.) is a recent one and capable of reading PDFs created under the PDF 1.4 standard. This was the standard published in 2001, and requires Adobe Reader 5.0 or later. Try updating or reinstalling your PDF viewer, or try downloading and installing a different one (e.g., if only temporarily, to see whether a different PDF viewer shows the file properly).
- Note that PDF versions will occasionally have minor formatting issues, such as widowed/orphaned lines, awkward linebreaks, pages with extra whitespace, etc., but these should not affect readability. In addition, we sometimes have to use graphics to overcome the limitations of HTML (especially in formatting logical and mathematical formulas) and when these graphics are embedded in our PDF versions, some characters in the graphics may not have a crisp visual appearance. This is unavoidable. See Item 4 (PDF Formatting Limitations) in our Terms of Service agreement for a fuller discussion.
G.2 What advantages do the PDF versions have over the HTML versions?
- The PDF versions of SEP entries are generated from the HTML source using professional typographic software so as to achieve a high-quality visual appearance when displayed or printed. For example, our PDFs are formatted in two wide-column landscape mode, use a nice font, have right- and left-justified paragraphs, and are optionally formatted in US Letter and A4 paper sizes, and in Single-Column half-sheets. By contrast, our HTML entries display by default in a single column and print by default in portrait mode, with ragged-right edges.
- Some web browsers don't support the mathematical, logical, and special Unicode characters we use in our HTML documents. But our PDF versions embed all of these special characters in the document.
- The PDF versions combine all of the documents, such as footnotes and supplements, that may be associated with an entry into a single (printable) file. Thus, a single file can be stored for offline viewing (when you are not connected to the Internet). By contrast, the footnotes and supplementary documents in the HTML versions of SEP entries have to be viewed (printed) separately, and for some entries, you have to separately download and store all these files and all the graphics if you want to be able to view the file when you are offline, disconnected from the Internet.
- This single file format (described in the previous bullet point) for entries may be particularly useful for storing, accessing, and reading on mobile devices. We recommend using our single-column half-sheet PDFs for such devices for easier reading on smaller displays. See the SEP FAQ V.3 and V.4 which explain how to download and view our single-column half-sheet PDFs on a Kindle and an iPhone, respectively. (You are welcome to write to us with information about how to view single-column PDFs on other mobile devices, so we can include that information.)
- Since the content of PDF versions is generated from the HTML versions of entries held in recent SEP Archives, they (as well as those archived HTML versions) can be used as the source of quotations and for citation purposes. Please follow the PDF Citation guidelines. By contrast, the ‘active’ HTML versions of SEP entries are not appropriate for citation, since they might be updated or otherwise revised at any time.
- The PDF versions include a titlepage that displays (at the top) the URL that forms part of the proper citation information. If the PDF is printed, this information stays with the printed document. By contrast, the HTML versions of SEP entries have no titlepages, and when printed, no URL is included with the printed document (unless your browser supplies it). Instead the HTML versions contain a link to a page that shows the proper citation information.
G.3 What are the disadvantages of the PDF versions?
- Access to the PDF versions is not free to non-members of the Friends of the SEP Society.
- Since HTML is not designed primarily for typography, and in particular, not designed for elegant layout of complex logical or mathematical material, the SEP has on occasion created special graphics to format certain mathematical symbols and formulas in the HTML versions of various SEP entries. These graphics may not always have a sharp visual appearance when viewing the PDF versions of these entries on screen with a PDF viewer. (Note that these graphics may lack sharpness even when printing the HTML.) This issue, which affects the PDF versions only rarely, is described more fully in the clause concerning PDF Formatting Limitations on the Terms of Service page.
- In cases where the author has revised an entry in the past three months, the PDF version does not match the current version of an SEP entry, but only the most recent archived version of that entry. When an entry is revised, an updated PDF will be made available just after the next quarterly SEP Archive.
- Currently, the links in the HTML version of the entry (e.g., to other sections within the document, to other SEP entries, and to other internet resources) aren't preserved in the PDF version.
G.4 On my computer, it is difficult to select text from a single column when the PDF is in two-column format. How do I electronically select text in your PDFs?
Answer: We're not sure how to do this in Adobe Reader on a PC. But on a Mac, when viewing the file in Preview.app, hold down the Option key and then Select the text with your mouse.
G.5 How do I cite these PDF versions of SEP entries?
Answer: This is covered on our PDF Citation page.
Viewing/Download Issues with PDF Versions
V.1 I am a Friends Society member and when I log in, preview a PDF, and click on “US Letter”, “A4”, or “Single-Column” to download an entry, nothing happens. What has gone wrong?
Answer: You either have to (1) figure out where your browser is storing the files it downloads, or (2) explicitly tell your browser where to put the downloaded file:
- Here is how to figure out where Firefox, for example, is storing the files it downloads. On a Windows machine, use the Firefox Tools→Options menu and look in the Downloads section: if the radio button for "Save files to" is selected, note the location of the download folder. Look for the file you downloaded in that folder. On a Mac, open the Firefox Preferences, select the General tab and look in the Downloads section: if the radio button for "Save files to" is selected, note the location of the download folder. Look for the file you downloaded in that folder. Other browsers have similar options for discovering/setting the Downloads folder.
- To explicitly tell your browser where to put the downloaded file, right-click (Windows) or control-click (Mac) on the “US Letter” (“A4”, “Single-Column”) link when you are previewing an entry, and your browser should present you with an option which, when selected, will prompt you to name a place on your hard drive where it should store the downloaded file.
Note that some browsers can be configured to display the PDF directly in the browser window itself. In that case, you will need to use your browser's SAVE or SAVE AS menu option (in the File menu) to save the file to your hard drive.
V.2 I want to view the Sample Entry. But when I drag the image of the sample entry to my computer Desktop, the file is only one page in length, and it prints as a very small image. How do I get the Sample Entry?
Answer: The problem you are experiencing is that you are attempting to open the image of our sample entry (by dragging it to the Desktop) instead of attempting to download/view the sample entry itself. To download/view the entry itself, you should click on the image of the sample entry, not drag it to the Desktop. Depending on how your browser is configured, the browser will either display the PDF in the browser window, or save it to your hard drive (see V.1 if nothing happens). Alternatively, you may click on the following link:
V.3 How do I view these PDFs on my Kindle?
Answer: There are at least two ways to view our PDFs on your Kindle.
- Direct Transfer from Your Computer. Use your computer and web browser to log in to the Friends of the SEP Society website and navigate to the entry you want to read. Download the PDF by selecting the “Single-Column format” option, and let the download complete to your computer's Desktop or default download directory. The PDF will show up with a filename like “entryname_sc.pdf” (the “_sc” indicating it is in single-column format). You can rename it to “entryname.pdf” if you like. Then plug your Kindle into your computer via the USB cable that came with it. When your Kindle's disk mounts on your computer, select it and navigate into the “documents” directory. Drag and drop entryname.pdf into that directory. Then unmount your Kindle from your computer and press its Home button. You should see entryname.pdf at the top of your list of Kindle documents (unless the default ordering of “most recent first” has been changed). At this point you can select it (i.e., place the cursor under it) and click the 5-way toggle switch on the Kindle to activate your selection. However, many people will find the that when the page displays in portrait mode on your Kindle, the print will be rather small. This can be easily fixed however. Simply click on the Kindle “change fontsize” icon, which is identifiable by the two uppercase letter “A”s adjacent to one another, with one larger than the other. That will bring up the option to put the Kindle into landscape mode. Once you do that, you should find that the font size of the SEP's PDF in landscape mode is large enough to read easily. Though you won't be able to see an entire page in landscape mode:
- the Kindle Next Page button will advance the view down the page, until you reach the end, at which point it will advance to the next page.
- the Kindle Previous Page button will move the view up the page, until you reach the beginning, at which point it will return to the previous page.
- Mail the PDF to Amazon/Kindle. You can send PDFs to your Kindle as follows. Click on the Kindle Home button, and then click on the Menu button while on the Home page. Scroll down and click on the Settings function. One of the categories on the Settings page is the Device E-mail. If you already have that configured, you can mail the PDF to the email address displayed on the “E-mail” line. Otherwise, follow the directions: log on to the page at Amazon (http://www.amazon.com/manageyourkindle) that allows you to configure a “kindle.com” email address for your Kindle. Then mail the PDF to that address. When you Home page reloads, the SEP entry PDF should show up.
V.4 How do I view these PDFs on my iPhone?
Answer: There are at least three ways to view our PDFs on your iPhone.
- Use Mobile Safari. Start up Safari on your iPhone, navigate to the Friends of the SEP Society page, and log in. Then find and select the SEP entry title you want to view. When you get to the Preview page, select the option of downloading the PDF in Single-Column format.
- Use Mail. First, on your computer, use your web browser to log in to the Friends of the SEP Society website and navigate to the entry you want to read. Download the PDF by selecting the “Single-Column format” option, and let the download complete to your computer's Desktop or default download directory. The PDF will show up with a filename like “entryname_sc.pdf” (the “_sc” indicates it is in single-column format). You can rename it to “entryname.pdf” if you like. Start up your mail program and send a message to yourself, with the PDF you downloaded as an attachment. Shutdown your mail program, and now go to your iPhone and start up your iPhone's email program. Once the mail you just sent from your computer to yourself has been transmitted to your mail server and delivered, it will be downloaded to your iPhone's mail program when its Inbox is updated. Select the message, and note that it includes an icon that indicates a PDF is attached. Tap on the icon, and that will open the PDF on your iPhone. If you turn your iPhone so that you are reading in landscape mode, you can expand the text (using pinch open and close) so that it is readable in landscape mode. Scroll down in the usual way.
- Use a File Storage app. If you have an iPhone app that allows you to store files on your phone, you can simply follow the instructions for that app which explain how load the PDF on your phone and store it.
Access to PDF versions
A.1 Is every entry in the SEP available in PDF format?
- SEP entries which have not yet been archived (i.e., because they were first published after the most recent quarterly SEP Archive was made) are not yet available in PDF format. We only distribute PDF versions of archived SEP entries. We create a new SEP Archive each quarter (March 21, June 21, September 21, and December 21), and after each archive is made, we create new PDF versions of those entries which have been published or changed in the last 3 months.
- It is the Society's intent to ensure that a PDF version of every entry in the most recent quarterly archive of the SEP Archives is available for download through the Society member pages. However, there may be some SEP entries that can not be made available in PDF format, for reasons beyond our control. Potential members are advised to check availability before joining the Society, by following one of the links in the main menu item PDF Library (Search Titles, A-Z Title List) in the left navigation column of the Society's public web pages.
A.2 I am an Associate (or Student) Member. What does it mean to say that I can download up to 5 entries within a 24-hour period?
Answer: We mean that you can download up to 5 different entries within a rolling 24-hour period. Here is a table which explains this by showing what happens if you attempt to download PDFs over a certain time period:
Entry Title Time Download Comment Entry A March 22, 8:00am Allowed Under the limit. Entry B March 22, 10:00am Allowed Under the limit. Entry C March 22, 2:00pm Allowed Under the limit. Entry D March 22, 4:00pm Allowed Under the limit. Entry E March 22, 6:00pm Allowed Under the limit. Entry F March 22, 8:00pm Not Allowed Over the limit. Entry F March 23, 8:00am Allowed Under the limit. At 8:00am, the number of entries downloaded over the past 24 hours drops from 5 to 4, since entry A no longer counts. So you can download another entry. Entry G March 23, 9:00am Not Allowed Over the limit. At 9:00am, the number of entries downloaded in the past 24 hours is 5, given your activity at 8:00am this morning. Entry G March 23, 10:00am Allowed Under the limit. At 10:00am, the number of entries downloaded over the past 24 hours drops from 5 to 4, since entry B no longer counts. So you can download another entry.
So the download limit of “5 different entries in 24 hours” for Student and Associate Members doesn't mean 5 downloads within some fixed 24-hour period every day (such as between 12:01am to midnight each day) and it doesn't mean that 24 hours after the point at which you started downloading PDFs you can download another 5 different entries. Instead it is a rolling limit that is based on your activity over the preceding 24 hours.
A.3 What if I inadvertently delete or lose a PDF version I downloaded?
Answer: You are entitled to download that entry at any time during the year for which your membership dues have been paid, unless you have reached a daily download limit that may apply to your membership level. If the latter case, then you may have to wait up to 24 hours to get a new copy.
Example: Suppose a Student Member or Associate Member has downloaded entry A on Day 1, and on Day 2, she downloads 5 different entries B–F within 24 hours, thereby reaching her 24 hour limit. Suppose further that on Day 2, she inadvertently deletes her copy of entry A, which she downloaded on Day 1. Since she has reached her daily limit, she cannot download another copy of entry A until 24 hours after she downloaded entry B! As explained in the answer to the previous question, our daily limits govern activity over the past 24 hours. Thus, 24 hours after she downloaded entry B, the number of entries she downloaded over the past 24 hours drops from 5 to 4, allowing her at that point to download another copy of entry A.
A.4 How frequently do you generate new PDFs?
Answer: When a new SEP Archive is made each quarter (March 21, June 21, September 21, and December 21), we create PDF versions of the entries that have been published since the last archive and new PDF versions of SEP entries that have changed since the last archive. If you opt in to our quarterly email alerts, you will be notified once every quarter about the PDFs you've downloaded that are now out of date.
A.5 What if the author changes the entry after I download it?
Answer: When authors update, improve, revise, or otherwise modify their entries, an updated PDF version will be created when the next quarterly SEP Archive is made. You can download the updated PDF version of the modified entry as soon as it becomes available in the next quarterly Archive. Thus, you may have to wait up to 3 months (see the answer to the previous question). If your membership has expired when that Archive is made, however, you will need to renew your membership.
A.6 The entry on X is published at https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/X/, but I can't find the PDF at the Friends Society webpages. Where is it?
Answer: The most probable reason you can't find the PDF for the entry on X is that it was published after the most recent quarterly SEP Archive and so won't be available in PDF until after the next quarterly SEP Archive is made. So you may have to wait up to 3 months for the PDF to become available. However, if you can determine that the entry on X was published before the most recent quarterly SEP Archive (the "First published" indication is at the top of every entry), please write to us and let us know. Our systems may need to be corrected.
Distributing PDF versions
D.1 May I email the PDFs I download to friends or colleagues?
Answer: Sharing copies of these PDFs by emailing them to your friends or colleagues is prohibited as it would undermine the incentive for them to join the Friends of the SEP Society. It would also violate our exclusive license to distribute entries over the Internet (see our Copyright Notice and the Fair Use clause). Please note, though, that all of our content is freely available in HTML on the web and you are welcome to send your friends and colleagues a link to the HTML version of the entry at the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.
D.2 I am teaching a class. May I put a PDF version in a course reader for my students?
- You can only if you are distributing a printout of the PDF and you secure the permission of the author. This applies to both the PDF version available through the Society and the HTML version freely available from the SEP's website. If a course reader is disseminated electronically, you must contact the SEP for permission, but when you print out either the PDF or the HTML version of the entry for use in a course reader, the author's copyright comes into play. (The author retains copyright to print versions of their entry.) She has the right to charge or waive reprint fees as she sees fit. Please read the Fair Use clause of our Copyright Notice carefully. If you decide to use an SEP entry in a printed course reader, we recommend that you use the PDF version.
- If you wish to contact an SEP author to obtain permission to put the PDF (or HTML) version in a course reader, you can discover his or her email address at the bottom of the HTML version of the entry. Thus, you will need to visit the free HTML version of the entry online at the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy website. Look up the entry in the Table of Contents or search for it using the search engine. Once you have found the entry and loaded the entry in your web browser, scroll to the bottom. The author's name and email address is listed in the band at the bottom of the entry (i.e., in the footer).
- Please note that students have free access to the HTML version of the entry at the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy website. We encourage you to point your students to this free HTML version. They may prefer to read that on their computer screen without incurring any costs. Alternatively, they may be able to print that version more cheaply than the amount you are charging for reproducing those pages in your course reader.
D.3 I am an SEP author. May I email the PDF version of my own entry to colleagues or put the PDF version on a web server (e.g., link the PDF version into the list of publications on my home page)?
Answer: Distributing copies of the PDF version of your entry electronically, whether by emailing it to colleagues or by putting it on your website, is prohibited as it would undermine the incentive for your colleagues to join the Friends of the SEP Society. It would also violate the exclusive license you gave the SEP to distribute your entry over the Internet (see the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy's Copyright Notice and the Friends of the SEP Society's Copyright Notice). As an SEP author, however, you are free to print the PDF version of your own entry and mail the printout to a colleague. (You retain copyright for print publication and distribution.) Since your entry is freely available in HTML on the web (at [plato.stanford.edu] and 3 official mirror sites), you are welcome to send the URL of the HTML version of your entry to your colleagues and to create a link to it on your home page. You may also create a link to the preview page of the PDF version at
https://leibniz.stanford.edu/friends/members/preview/<entry-directory>/ , e.g.,
M.1 How will I recognize the membership dues transaction on my credit card statement?
Answer: You will see a line that says “STANFORD SEP FRIENDS”. We are required to have the word ‘Stanford’ in the transaction record and we can't use the full name “Friends of the SEP Society” because there is a 22-character limit (including spaces). So we have had to compromise on the text that will show up on your credit card statement.
M.2 Why can't you respond to voicemail as quickly as to email?
- Our student employee has to come into the office to use our phone system, so that charges for the phone calls can be billed to the Friends of the SEP Society. By contrast, the student employee can answer email questions without coming into the office.
- You may live in a part of the world in which it is ‘after hours’ during our business hours. Our student employee can answer email any time of the day, no matter what time of the day it is in your part of the world, and do so without disturbing you.
- Since we don't have the manpower to staff our phone support line more than a few hours each week, email avoids the ‘phone tag’ problem (i.e., when we call you back when you aren't around, forcing us to leave you a message, and then you call us back when we aren't around, forcing you to leave us a second message, and so on). Worse problems can arise if you don't have a messaging system (answering machine, voicemail, etc.).
M.3 Are my membership dues tax deductible?
Answer: Unfortunately, they are not. Membership dues are quite low and no part is tax deductible. We welcome members of the Friends of the SEP Society to supplement their dues with a tax deductible donation to the SEP. Please visit our Make a Donation page for more information.
M.4 Why can't I join the Friends of the SEP Society by way of a email message, phone/voicemail message or letter that contains my credit card number?
Answer: Stanford University's policy, which complies with the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI DSS), is that no credit card information can be stored on our computer systems or in our offices. Thus, any correspondence by email message, phone/voicemail message, or letter containing a credit card number must be destroyed. We have therefore arranged for your credit card transaction to take place between a secure CyberSource gateway and the bank that holds the Friends of the SEP Society's account. Our transactions policies are monitored by Stanford University's Credit Card Merchant Services, which makes sure that the Friends of the SEP Society is PCI DSS compliant. The Payment Card Industry takes this to be the most secure method of payment.
M.5 I don't have a credit card, but I do have a PayPal account. Can I join the Friends of the SEP Society using my PayPal account?
Answer: Stanford University electronic commerce policies prohibit us from using a PayPal account to conduct financial transactions, such as the collection of membership dues, with potential members of the Friends of the SEP Society. Stanford prefers that all transactions be conducted directly between credit-card issuing institutions and Stanford's bank. Longstanding familiarity with such systems makes it easier to handle issues that arise and diagnose problems when things go wrong. However, we should mention that even though you don't have a credit card, you can use a VISA or MasterCard debit card. Those in countries outside the U.S. can use such debit cards as long as the issuing financial institution allows foreign transactions. (Many international members of the Friends of the SEP Society have paid membership dues this way.)Copyright © 2014 • The Metaphysics Research Lab
Center for the Study of Language and Information, Stanford University, Stanford, CA 94305