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.

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PDF/A (ISO 19005)

The A in PDF/A stands for Archiving. This standard defines the archiving of electronic documents in PDF format. PDF Tools AG's experts play a leading role in the further development of the PDF/A standard. And we are a founding member of the international PDF Association. On our knowledge base you can learn all the details about this standard format, read what's happening in the world of PDF/A, and find an overview of the world's widest range of PDF/A products - all provided by PDF Tools AG. In addition, you will discover how PDF/A together with digital signatures can make the difference in helping you fulfill your conformance requirements.

Further information about PDF/A

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 format into an ISO standard. Before the standard could be published, PDF Tools AG, as Swiss representative and voting member on the ISO committee, 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, or to be precise by Technical Committee 171, Sub-committee 2. To make it clear 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 legacy issues have been cleaned up. 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


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.

PDF/X (ISO 15930)

PDF/X was the first ISO standard dealing with PDF. It was published back in 2001 and regulates the exchange of graphics files for printing. Several improvements and changes have been incorporated since its inception. The current version is PDF/X-5, which is documented in the ISO standard 15903-8. PDF Tools AG is currently not active in the area of PDF/X.


PDF/H is the future document standard for the healthcare sector. It deals with regulating the creation, exchange, retention and protection of healthcare relevant information. It applies to healthcare institutions, the transformation of information into digital format in order to ease data exchange, and bridging the gap between healthcare institutions and the consumer. Currently there is a "Best Practices Guide" which is published by AIIM. A date for the ISO standardization has not yet been set.

PDF/E (ISO 24517)

PDF/E is the newest standard and describes a format for technical documents pertaining in particular to engineering, architecture and geo-information. It was published in 2008. PDF/E also describes the depiction of 3D objects and helps with the exchange of plans, drawings and much more.


UA means "Universal Accessibility". It deals with the unrestricted access to documents in PDF format for persons with disabilities. The aim is to create guidelines that define how PDF documents and the content they contain, like graphics, text, multimedia elements and form fields, have to be depicted in order that they are accessible to persons with disabilities. The working group at AIIM is currently not fully active and therefore a publication date for the standard cannot be established.