PDF/A facts in a nutshell, or more precisely in a Whitepaper

Published on February 9, 2012 by kerryc
After three days in a booth with the PDF Association (formerly the PDF/A Competence Center) at Legal Tech New York, one thing is crystal clear: there is a lot of confusion and not a lot of facts about the PDF/A standard within the legal community. Joe Friday of Dragnet fame made the phrase “just the facts, ma’am” famous, however what he originally said was “All we want are the facts.” So, here they are as they relate to PDF/A…

PDF/A facts in a nutshell

  1. PDF for Archiving, or more commonly PDF/A, is a subset of the PDF standard. It is intended for the long-term archiving and preservation of documents.
  2. The Courts will soon require law firms to file documents with the CM/ECF system in the PDF/A standard. Currently, the Administrative Office of the US Courts says filing in either PDF or PDF/A is acceptable.
  3. Each Court will set its own timetable to transition to the PDF/A standard. Best to contact your local Court for exact details.
  4. There are two conformance levels to the PDF/A standard (PDF/A-1a and PDF/A-1b). If it helps, think of them as 1a = Advanced and 1b = Basic.
  5. Law firms can file in either level, although PDF/A-1b is the less demanding of the two in terms of compliance and covers most scenarios, including scanned and legacy PDFs.

Does your software cover all PDF/A scenarios?

Law firms receive documents from many different sources. It is therefore important that your PDF creation software covers the following scenarios:
  1. Create PDF/A compliant documents from electronic files
  2. Create PDF/A compliant documents from paper
  3. Conform existing or legacy PDFs to compliant PDF/A documents
  4. Validate PDF/A documents for compliance before filing with the CM/ECF system

Why validation?

You cannot assume a document is PDF/A compliant simply because it is tagged as a PDF/A document. It is important to verify PDF/A compliance at two different stages of the workflow. First, documents you receive from external sources need to be checked since not all PDF creation tools produce PDF/A documents that comply 100% with the PDF/A standard. Second, documents need to be tested as the final step in the production process. A valid PDF/A document can be invalidated as a result of editing or inserting external links etc. into the document. In both cases, these invalid PDF/A documents may still display in Adobe Reader as valid PDF/A documents.

Download complimentary PDF/A Whitepaper now

Download the complimentary Whitepaper on the PDF/A standard to ensure that your filings get accepted first time, every time by the Courts. The Whitepaper is written purposely with as few acronyms and as little jargon and technical explanation as possible. More specifically, this paper addresses these frequently asked questions:
  1. How is a PDF/A document different from a “normal” PDF?
  2. How do I know if a document is PDF/A compliant?
  3. Is there a way to make documents PDF/A ready, without actually converting them to PDF/A?
  4. Should I implement these changes to existing PDF workflows?
  5. Should I be converting every document to PDF/A now?
Request whitepaper

PDF Association

DocsCorp is a member of the PDF Association, formerly the PDF/A Competence Center, which was established after the publication of the ISO 19005 (PDF/A) standard in 2005. It is a non-profit association of more than 110 organizations and individual experts from 20 different countries dedicated to promoting the exchange of information and experience in the area of long-term archiving of documents.