How to Set HTTP Content Type PDF in PHP

When working with PHP, there may be instances where you need to generate and serve PDF files to your users. To ensure proper handling and rendering of these files, it is essential to set the HTTP content type to PDF. In this blog post, we will explore the steps to achieve this in PHP.

Step 1: Install the Required Libraries

Before we begin, make sure you have the necessary libraries installed. You will need the TCPDF library, which is a popular PHP library for creating PDF documents.

Step 2: Create a PHP Script

Start by creating a new PHP script or opening an existing one that needs to generate PDF files. Let’s call it generate_pdf.php.

Step 3: Set the Content Type Header

To set the HTTP content type to PDF, you need to send the appropriate header. In PHP, you can achieve this using the header() function. Add the following code at the beginning of your script:

header('Content-Type: application/pdf');

This line tells the browser that the content being served is a PDF file.

Step 4: Generate the PDF

Next, you need to generate the actual PDF content. This will depend on your specific requirements. TCPDF provides a rich set of functions to create and customize PDF documents. Refer to the TCPDF documentation for detailed instructions on how to generate the PDF content you need.

Step 5: Output the PDF

Once you have generated the PDF content, you need to output it to the browser. To achieve this, you can use the Output() method provided by TCPDF. Here’s an example:

$pdf = new TCPDF();
// Generate your PDF content here

$pdf->Output('example.pdf', 'I');

The Output() method takes two parameters: the file name and the output mode. In this example, we are using the ‘I’ mode, which stands for inline. This will display the PDF directly in the browser.

Step 6: Test the Script

Save your PHP script and navigate to its URL in a web browser. You should see the generated PDF displayed in the browser window.


Setting the HTTP content type to PDF in PHP is crucial for proper handling and rendering of PDF files. By following the steps outlined in this blog post, you can ensure that your PDFs are served correctly. Remember to install the TCPDF library, set the content type header, generate the PDF content, and output it to the browser. With these steps, you’ll be able to generate and serve PDFs seamlessly in your PHP applications.





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