What is the recommended way to embed PDF in HTML?

  • iFrame?
  • Object?
  • Embed?

What does Adobe say itself about it?

In my case, the PDF is generated on the fly, so it can't be uploaded to a third-party solution prior to flushing it.

There's a great comparison not just of specific solutions but general strategies, on the pdf2htmlEX repo's wiki. Also, though I haven't tried it, this seems to be a maintained fork.ShreevatsaR

26 Answers


Probably the best approach is to use the PDF.JS library. It's a pure HTML5/JavaScript renderer for PDF documents without any third-party plugins.

Online demo: https://mozilla.github.io/pdf.js/web/viewer.html

GitHub: https://github.com/mozilla/pdf.js


This is quick, easy, to the point and doesn't require any third-party script:

<embed src="http://example.com/the.pdf" width="500" height="375" 

UPDATE (2/3/2021)

Adobe now offers it's own PDF Embed API.


UPDATE (1/2018):

The Chrome browser on Android no longer supports PDF embeds. You can get around this by using the Google Drive PDF viewer

<embed src="https://drive.google.com/viewerng/
viewer?embedded=true&url=http://example.com/the.pdf" width="500" height="375">

You can also use Google PDF viewer for this purpose. As far as I know it's not an official Google feature (am I wrong on this?), but it works for me very nicely and smoothly. You need to upload your PDF somewhere before and just use its URL:

<iframe src="http://docs.google.com/gview?url=http://example.com/mypdf.pdf&embedded=true" style="width:718px; height:700px;" frameborder="0"></iframe>

What is important is that it doesn't need a Flash player, it uses JavaScript.


You do have some control over how the PDF appears in the browser by passing some options in the query string. I was happy to this working, until I realized it does not work in IE8. :(

It works in Chrome 9 and Firefox 3.6, but in IE8 it shows the message "Insert your error message here, if the PDF cannot be displayed."

I haven't yet tested older versions of any of the above browsers, though. But here's the code I have anyway in case it helps anyone. This sets the zoom to 85%, removes scrollbars, toolbars and nav panes. I'll update my post if I do come across something that works in IE as well.

<object width="400" height="500" type="application/pdf" data="/my_pdf.pdf?#zoom=85&scrollbar=0&toolbar=0&navpanes=0">
    <p>Insert your error message here, if the PDF cannot be displayed.</p>

Using both <object> and <embed> will give you a wider breadth of browser compatibility.

<object data="http://yoursite.com/the.pdf" type="application/pdf" width="750px" height="750px">
    <embed src="http://yoursite.com/the.pdf" type="application/pdf">
        <p>This browser does not support PDFs. Please download the PDF to view it: <a href="http://yoursite.com/the.pdf">Download PDF</a>.</p>

Convert it to PNG via ImageMagick, and display the PNG (quick and dirty).

  $dir = '/absolute/path/to/my/directory/';
  $name = 'myPDF.pdf';
  exec("/bin/convert $dir$name $dir$name.png");
  print '<img src="$dir$name.png" />';

This is a good option if you need a quick solution, want to avoid cross-browser PDF viewing problems, and if the PDF is only a page or two. Of course, you need ImageMagick installed (which in turn needs Ghostscript) on your webserver, an option that might not be available in shared hosting environments. There is also a PHP plugin (called imagick) that works like this but it has it's own special requirements.


Have a look for this code- To embed the PDF in HTML

<!-- Embed PDF File -->
<object data="YourFile.pdf" type="application/x-pdf" title="SamplePdf" width="500" height="720">
    <a href="YourFile.pdf">shree</a> 

You can use the relative location of the saved pdf like this:


<embed src="example.pdf" width="1000" height="800" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen>


<iframe src="example.pdf" style="width:1000px; height:800px;" frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

FDView combines PDF2SWF (which itself is based on xpdf) with an SWF viewer so you can convert and embed PDF documents on the fly on your server.

xpdf is not a perfect PDF converter. If you need better results then Ghostview has some ability to convert PDF documents into other formats which you may be able to more easily build a Flash viewer for.

But for simple PDF documents, FDView should work reasonably well.

  1. Create a container to hold your PDF

    <div id="example1"></div>
  2. Tell PDFObject which PDF to embed, and where to embed it

    <script src="/js/pdfobject.js"></script>
    <script>PDFObject.embed("/pdf/sample-3pp.pdf", "#example1");</script>
  3. You can optionally use CSS to specify visual styling, including dimensions, border, margins, etc.

    .pdfobject-container { height: 500px;}
    .pdfobject { border: 1px solid #666; }

source : https://pdfobject.com/


Our problem is that for legal reasons we are not allowed to temporarily store a PDF on the hard disk. In addition, the entire page should not be reloaded when displaying a PDF as Preview in the Browser.

First we tried PDF.jS. It worked with Base64 in the viewer for Firefox and Chrome. However, it was unacceptably slow for our PDF. IE/Edge didn't work at all.

We therefore tried it with a Base64 string in an HTML object tag. This again didn't work for IE/Edge (maybe the same problem as with PDF.js). In Chrome/Firefox/Safari again no problem. That's why we chose a hybrid solution. IE/Edge we use an IFrame and for all other browsers the object-tag.

The IFrame solution would of course also work for Chrome and co. The reason why we didn't use this solution for Chrome is that although the PDF is displayed correctly, Chrome makes a new request to the server as soon as you click on "download" in the preview. The required hidden-field pdfHelperTransferData (for sending our form data needed for PDF generation) is no longer set because the PDF is displayed in an IFrame. For this feature/bug see Chrome sends two requests when downloading a PDF (and cancels one of them).

Now the problem children IE9 and IE10 remain. For these we gave up a preview solution and simply send the document by clicking the preview button as a download to the user (instead of the preview). We have tried a lot but even if we had found a solution the extra effort for this tiny part of users would not have been worth the effort. You can find our solution for the download here: Download PDF without refresh with IFrame.

Our Javascript:

var transferData = getFormAsJson()
if (isMicrosoftBrowser()) {
        // Case IE / Edge (because doesn't recoginzie Pdf-Base64 use Iframe)
        var form = document.getElementById('pdf-helper-form');
        form.target = "iframe-pdf-shower";
        form.action = "serverSideFunctonWhichWritesPdfinResponse";
 } else {
        // Case non IE use Object tag instead of iframe
            url: "serverSideFunctonWhichRetrivesPdfAsBase64",
            type: "post",
            data: { downloadHelperTransferData: transferData },
            success: function (result) {
                $("#object-pdf-shower").attr("data", result);


<div id="pdf-helper-hidden-container" style="display:none">
   <form id="pdf-helper-form" method="post">
        <input type="hidden" name="pdfHelperTransferData" id="pdfHelperTransferData" />

<div id="pdf-wrapper" class="modal-content">
    <iframe id="iframe-pdf-shower" name="iframe-pdf-shower"></iframe>
    <object id="object-pdf-shower" type="application/pdf"></object>

To check the browser type for IE/Edge see here: How can I detect Internet Explorer (IE) and Microsoft Edge using JavaScript? I hope these findings will save someone else the time.


Scribd no longer require you to host your documents on their server. If you create an account with them so you get a publisher ID. It only takes a few lines of JavaScript code to load up PDF files stored on your own server.

For more details, see Developer Tools.


PdfToImageServlet using ImageMagick's convert command.

Usage example: <img src='/webAppDirectory/PdfToImageServlet?pdfFile=/usr/share/cups/data/default-testpage.pdf'>


This is the way I did with AXIOS and Vue.js:

            url: `urltoPDFfile.pdf`,
            method: 'GET',
            headers: headers,
            responseType: 'blob'
        .then((response) => {
            this.urlPdf = URL.createObjectURL(response.data)
        .catch((error) => {
            console.log('ERROR   ', error)

add urlPDF dynamically to HTML:

<object width='100%' height='600px' :data='urlPdf' type='application/pdf'></object>
<object width="400" height="400" data="helloworld.pdf"></object>

One of the options you should consider is Notable PDF
It has a free plan unless you are planning on doing real-time online collaboration on pdfs

Embed the following iframe to any html and enjoy the results:

<iframe width='1000' height='800' src='http://bit.ly/1JxrtjR' frameborder='0' allowfullscreen></iframe>

I had to preview a PDF with React so after trying several libraries my optimal solution was to fetch the data and ebmed it.

const pdfBase64 = //fetched from url or generated with jspdf or other library


To stream the file to the browser, see Stack Overflow question How to stream a PDF file as binary to the browser using .NET 2.0 - note that, with minor variations, this should work whether you're serving up a file from the file system or dynamically generated.

With that said, the referenced MSDN article takes a rather simplistic view of the world, so you may want to read Successfully Stream a PDF to browser through HTTPS as well for some of the headers you may need to supply.

Using that approach, an iframe is probably the best way to go. Have one webform that streams the file, and then put the iframe on another page with its src attribute set to the first form.

  1. Construct a blob of the input PDF bytes
  2. Use an iframe and PDF.js patched with this cross browser workaround

The URI for the iframe should look something like this:


Now FF, Chrome, IE 11, and Edge all display the PDF in a viewer in the iframe passed via standard blob URI in the URL.


I found that the best way to embed a pdf for my case was by using bootstrap because not only does it show the pdf but it also fill available space and you can specify the ratio as you wish. Here's an example of what i made with it:

<link rel="stylesheet" href="https://stackpath.bootstrapcdn.com/bootstrap/4.5.0/css/bootstrap.min.css">

<div class="embed-responsive embed-responsive-1by1">
  <iframe class="embed-responsive-item" src="http://example.com/the.pdf" type="application/pdf" allowfullscreen></iframe>

<script src="https://cdnjs.cloudflare.com/ajax/libs/jquery/3.3.1/jquery.min.js"></script>
<script src="https://maxcdn.bootstrapcdn.com/bootstrap/3.3.5/js/bootstrap.min.js"></script>
<embed src="data:application/pdf;base64,..."/>

If you don't want to host PDF.JS on your own, you could try DocDroid. It is similar to the Google Drive PDF viewer but allows custom branding.


just use iFrame for PDF's.

I had specific needs in my React.js app, tried millions of solutions but ended up with an iFrame :) Good luck!


Before I got a problem with embeding base64 encoded with PDF because the URI limitation, so any files over 2MB won't render properly on Chrome.

My solution is:

  1. Convert uri encoded to Blob:

  2. Generate the temporary DOM String base on Blob.

    const blob = dataURItoBlob(this.dataUrl);

    var temp_url = window.URL.createObjectURL(blob);

  3. Decide where you want to attach the iframe to DOM:

    const target = document.querySelector(targetID);

    target.innerHTML = `<iframe src='${temp_url}' type="application/pdf"></iframe>


If you don't want to host the PDFs yourself or want to customize your PDF viewer with additional security features like preventing users to download the PDF file. I recommend using CloudPDF. https://cloudpdf.io

<!DOCTYPE html>
<html lang="en">
  <meta charset="UTF-8">
  <meta name="viewport" content="width=device-width, initial-scale=1.0">
  <title>CloudPDF Viewer</title>
    body, html {
      height: 100%;
      margin: 0px;
<body style="height: 100%">
  <div id="viewer" style="width: 800px; height: 500px; margin: 80px auto;"></div>
  <script type="text/javascript" src="https://cloudpdf.io/viewer.min.js?version=0.1.0-beta.11"></script>
    document.addEventListener('DOMContentLoaded', function(){
      const config = { 
        documentId: 'eee2079d-b0b6-4267-9812-b6b9eadb9c60',
        darkMode: true,
      CloudPDF(config, document.getElementById('viewer')).then((instance) => {


I found this works just fine and the browser handles it in firefox. I have not checked IE...