ISO: The global standard for PDF management

by Huy Tran, Foxit Solution Engineer

ISO: The global standard for PDF management

The first Portable Document Format (PDF) was released by Adobe in 1992. By 2008, PDF had become an official global standard after incorporation into the International Organization for Standardization (ISO).

ISO is a culmination of 162 national standard bodies for developing voluntary, consensus-based standards. Document standardization is just one of these many management areas.

ISO standard 32000-1 pertains to the current PDF 1.7 in use. It covers the various subdivisions of PDF under these categories:

PDF/A – long-term document preservation

Government institutions, banks, universities, and libraries around the world use PDF/A for recordkeeping. A uniform standard ensures better preservation and viewability. Document layout (such as font and images) remains in its original format even when accessed many years later.

There is also PDF/A-2, which provides further preservation guidelines under ISO 19005-2 standards. In addition, ISO has also released a PDF/A-3 for embedding files.

PDF/UA – universal PDF access for all user types

PDF/UA was rolled out in 2012 and sets forth requirements for making PDFs accessible for individuals with specific disabilities. Implementations include assistive technology, such as screen readers, speech recognition, and text-to-speech software.

PDF/X and PDF/VT – standards for printing industry

PDF/X was introduced by the Committee for Graphic Arts Technology Standards (CGATS) in 2001. This ensures printed hardcopies of PDFs retained the same layout as their digital format.

PDF/VT is a subset of PDF/X that sets standards for transactional printing, such as receipts and invoices.

PDF/E – standards for technical and 3D data documents

This PDF standard is used for archiving technical documents and records in the engineering sector. This includes 2D renderings and 3D model data sheets.

To get the full scope of ISO for PDF, visit the organization’s own site for the official ISO 32000-1 manual. You’ll learn the full details and provisions of each of the PDF subcategories listed above. You will have to purchase the manual to read it in its entirety.

Finally, keep in mind that all Foxit products are compliant with ISO 32000-1 standards, making compatibility a complete nonissue.

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