By Caitlin Burns, DocsCorp Content Manager.
A PDF is essentially a data container into which you can put color profiles, text, images, graphics, and fonts.
This richness of content however means the PDF format is not suited to long-term archiving. In 50 years from now, links to external content or embedded media are likely to be broken or unsupported.
The PDF/A standard was designed to address the shortcomings of the PDF as a standard for long-term preservation and archiving. It is effectively a subset of PDF and is often described as self-contained or restrictive.
Keep reading to learn more about what makes PDF/A different from PDF.
What makes PDF/A different from PDF?
A PDF/A document is different from a PDF in the following ways:
- It is based on the PDF 1.4 version (not the latest 2.0 version)
- It cannot have security settings and passwords
- It cannot have multimedia annotations or comments
- It cannot have non-embedded referenced content
- It cannot have actions such as playing movies, sound, or sending forms
When and where is PDF/A used?
PDF/A is either the preferred or required format for many organizations in countries that use ISO standards. This includes the UK, US, Australia, China, Germany, France, Japan, Switzerland, the Netherlands, and Sweden. It is especially prevalent in document-centric industries, like legal and government.
For example, PDF/A is the standard format for both the Swedish National Archives and the Danish Government. In the US, the Patent and Trademarks Office (USPTO) and the Florida Courts System, among others, require documents that comply with the PDF/A standard.
Ultimately, any organization can use PDF/A to ensure the valuable business information inside digital archives is available for years to come.