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PDF Association

Mission Statement: To promote Open Standards-based electronic document implementations using PDF technology through education, expertise and shared experience for stakeholders worldwide.
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Participating in the PDF Techniques Accessibility Summit

The PDF Techniques Accessibility Summit’s objective is to establish a broad-based understanding of how PDF files should be tagged for accessibilty. It’s an opportunity to focus on establishing a common set of examples of accessible PDF content, and identify best-practice when tagging difficult cases.

Modernizing PDF Techniques for Accessibility

The PDF Techniques Accessibility Summit will identify best-practices in tagging various cases in PDF documents. Questions to be addressed will likely include: the legal ways to tag a nested list, the correct way to caption multiple images, the appropriate way to organize content within headings.

Refried PDF

My hospital emailed me a medical records release form as a PDF. They told me to print it, fill it, sign it, scan it and return it to the medical records department, in that order. In 2018? To get the form via email (i.e., electronically), yet be asked to print it? Did the last 20 years just… not mean anything! So I thought I’d be clever. I’d fill it first, THEN print it. Or better yet, never print it, but sign it anyhow, and return it along with a note making the case for improving their workflow. The story continues…

Slides and video recordings of PDF Days Europe 2018

You missed the PDF Days Europe 2018? Never mind! Here you can find the slides and video recordings of all 32 stunning sessions!

Using PDF/UA in accessibility checklists

PDF/UA, like PDF itself, is internally complex, but used correctly, actually makes things easier.

PDF/A and the other PDF standards

Specialist ISO standards based on the Portable Document Format are available for a wide range of purposes.


”Prepress digital data ­exchange using PDF” – since 2001
ISO-Standard for the printing industry

Back in 2001, an ISO working group developed a pre-press PDF standard, “ISO 15930”. At this time, customers usually sent printers “open files” from layout software. This method, however, always carried the risk of fonts and images going missing. PDF/X is able to eliminate all of these problems; it also has the advantage of carrying reliable colour information thanks to colour management settings.

The “X” identifier stands for “Exchange”, as PDF/X is intended for reliable print data exchange. Additional standardisation for PDF/X versions 4 and 5 has taken into account the newer features available to the PDF file format, including transparent elements and JPEG2000 image compression. PDF/X-5 also supports externally referenced elements.


“PDF Archive“ – since 2005
Standardised long-term archiving with PDF

PDF was also recognised early on as having great potential for archiving digital documents. In 2005, the ISO published the first part of the PDF standard for long-term archiving, PDF/A.


“PDF Engineering“ – since 2008
Construction diagrams with moving 3D models where required

This standard has been available since 2008 as “ISO 24517”; it is aimed at engineering documents such as construction drawings. The original data often comes from CAD software used for digital drafting. PDF/E can display rotating and folding 3D objects on-screen, using tools like the free Adobe Reader.


“Portable Document Format“ – since 2008
The ISO standard corresponds with PDF version 1.7

PDF itself was also standardised in 2008 as “ISO 32000”. The basis of the standard was the then-current PDF version 1.7. With this, PDF became an open standard. PDF 2.0 is expected to be published in 2014.


“PDF for Variable Data and Transactional Printing“ – since 2010
Used for variable data printing

PDF/VT is a standard based on PDF/X-4 and PDF/X-5, supporting variable data printing. It was published in August 2010. The abbreviation “VT” stands for “Variable data and transactional printing”. This includes invoices and personalised advertisements, for example.


“PDF for Universal Access“ – since 2012
ISO standard for universally accessible PDF documents

The PDF/UA (Universal Access) standard, approved in 2012, allows universal access to PDF files’ content. This is useful for users with disabilities (for example the partially sighted) and others. Of particular importance is a clear coherent logical structure of the PDF’s elements, to ensure that navigational aids, reading software or Braille displays can handle all content including text, images and diagrams.

PDF/UA builds on proven concepts for accessible web content and adds concrete demands on the semantic structure of PDF documents (which PDF/A Conformance Level A had previously only given in a very general sense). PDF/UA offers users with disabilities the best possible access to content. It also makes it easier for mobile devices to use this content and supports its flexible reuse in other forms of presentation.

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Categories: PDF, PDF/A, PDF/E, PDF/UA, PDF/X