Pdf Guidelines Essay

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PDF Guidelines Recommendations for the creation of PDF files for long-term preservation and access


Judith Rog (judith.rog@kb.nl) Koninklijke Bibliotheek (http://www.kb.nl) Digitale Duurzaamheid (digitalpreservation@kb.nl) 1.7 1.7 Updated current Adobe Acrobat version, minor textual changes 1.6 Correction on XMP metadata 1.5, October 2006, Added notes onPDF/A-1 conformance levels and some info on uncalibrated colour spaces. 1.4, July 2006, Minor textual changes 1.3, June 2006, Minor textual changes 1.2, June 2006, Changes in lay-out 1.1, May 2006, Minor textual changes 1.0, May 2006, First version 31-05-2007

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Recommendations for the creation of PDF files for long-term preservation and access

To safeguard the long-term storage and access of digital publications in the e-Depot the National Library of the Netherlands/Koninklijke Bibliotheek (KB) needs to know all ins and outs of the supplied files. Although every file format is accepted, the choice of file format and the chosen settings within a file format can affect the degree to which long term preservation and access can be guaranteed. As 88 per cent of the files in the e-Depot are PDF files, the KB has chosen to publish recommendations for PDF first. Recommendations for other file formats will follow later. "PDF" stands for "Portable Document Format". It was developed as a follow-up to Adobe’s Postscript language. Adobe Systems invented PDF technology in the early 1990s to smooth the process of moving text and graphics from publishers to printing-presses and has been in use since 1993. PDF was originally envisioned as a way to communicate and view printed information electronically across a wide variety of machine configurations, operating systems and communication networks in a reliable manner. PDF relies on the same imaging model as the PostScript page description language to render complex text, images and graphics in a device and resolution-independent manner, bringing this feature to the screen as well as the printer. To improve performance for interactive viewing, PDF defines a more structured format than that used by most PostScript language programs. PDF also includes objects, such as hypertext links and annotations that are not part of the page itself but are useful for building collections of related documents and for reviewing and commenting on documents [1]. PDF files may be created natively in PDF form, converted from other electronic formats or digitized from paper, micro-film or other hard-copy format. When creating PDF files the application offers a choice of several settings. The specific settings can affect preservation of and access to the file in the short and long term. Certain choices of settings can change the appearance of the PDF file on different environments. The ISO 19005-1 standard for PDF/A-1 was published in 2005 and geared towards longterm preservation. It provides a mechanism for representing electronic documents in a manner that preserves their visual appearance over time, independent of the tools and systems used for creating, storing or rendering the files. The PDF/A-1 specifications are based on the specifications of PDF 1.4 and describe which aspects of a PDF are compulsory, optional or prohibited in a PDF/A-1 compliant file. The KB prefers PDF files that are compliant with this PDF/A-1 standard. PDF/A-1 defines two conformance levels. A ‘Level A’ conformant file (PDF/A-1a) shall adhere to all requirements of the ISO standard. A ‘Level B’ conformant file (PDF/A-1b) does not have to adhere to two requirements. These requirements refer to the use of tagging to add structure to preserve the logical structure and reading order and the use of Unicode character maps that map character codes to Unicode values. As preserving the natural reading order and using Unicode are crucial for the preservation of the document as it was intended by the creator, the KB advises to