PDF ISO standards

There are numerous ISO standards dealing with PDF. Below you will find an overview of the different standards, with a focus on PDF/A and PDF 1.7. PDF Tools AG, as a member of the ISO committee for PDF/A and PDF 1.7, contributed extensively to the development of these standards.

Pictogram PDF & PDF/A knowledge, ISO standards

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PDF/A – "Archive"

The standard PDF/A (ISO 19005) defines the archiving of electronic documents as PDF. The PDF/A standard ensures that the visual appearance of electronic documents is preserved over time. This guarantees the readability of PDF/A-compliant documents. PDF Tools and its experts play a leading role in the further development of the PDF/A standard. On our knowledge base about PDF/A you can learn all the details about this standard format.

Further information about PDF/A

PDF/A-4 was published in 2020 and is thus the latest PDF/A standard. It is based on PDF 2.0 and attempts to consolidate various standards and extensions.

PDF 1.7 (ISO 32000-1)

In order to further increase acceptance of PDF, Adobe Systems submitted PDF Version 1.7 to the ISO for standardization at the beginning of 2007. Already on July 1, 2008 ISO 32000-1 was published, turning the basic PDF into an ISO standard. Before the standard could be published, PDF Tools submitted dozens of change requests in order to improve the quality of the specification and resolve long-standing issues.

PDF 2.0 (ISO 32000-2)

This new version has been created by the ISO members. To make it clear to the outside that this is a new standard, a ‘2’ has been added to the main version number. The list of changes contains more than 50 entries, which contain new features, improvements - but also the cleanup of legacy issues. The new part of the standard mainly concerns the chapters: rendering, transparency, digital signatures, metadata and accessibility.

Further information about PDF

Article PDF 2.0 – Next Generation
White paper: PDF Primer

PDF/UA – "Universal Accessibility"

PDF/UA has been an ISO standard since 2012 (14289). The format aims to make PDF documents accessible to people with disabilities. The standard includes guidelines on how PDF documents and the information elements they contain, such as graphics, text, multimedia elements and form fields, must be made available so that they can navigate in the document as well as receive the content via voice output.

PDF/X

PDF/X (ISO 15930) was first published back in 2001 and standardizes PDF as graphics files for printing. Several improvements and changes have been incorporated since its inception. The current version is PDF/X-5. PDF Tools is currently not active in the area of PDF/X.

PDF/E – "Engineering"

PDF/E is a standard for technical documents in engineering, architecture and geo-information. In future, The depiction of 3D objects and the exchange of plans/drawings shall be covered by the PDF/A-4e standard in the future.

PDF/VT – "Variable and transactional printing"

Printing, packing and franking transaction documents, whether they are essential business documents like delivery notices, invoices and payment reminders or direct marketing letters sent out in sheer endless numbers, is a billion dollar market. The high numbers of print jobs and the requirements for short through-put times have not only led to the development of corresponding hardware like high-performance printers. Applications like Variable Data Printing (VDP) have been created in order to significantly cut the cost per printed item. These facts, and the huge demand for a universal and standardized VDP solution, have led to the development of PDF/VT.

Further information about PDF/VT

White paper: PDF/VT – the ISO Standard for Variable Data Printing (VDP) Applications

PDF/H – "Healthcare"

PDF/H is a guideline to regulate the creation, exchange, retention and protection of healthcare relevant information. PDF/H pursues the goal of closing the gap between healthcare institutions and the consumer.