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PDF/A - the New Standard filing format . . .

You may have come across references to the PDF/A format without fully understanding the distinction between this format and the ordinary PDF format. The PDF/A format is designed to allow documents to be digitally archived over the long term. Its key characteristics include:

1. Embedded fonts.

2. The exclusion of audio or video content.

3. Forbidding encryption.

4. Required standards based meta data.

Be aware that there are three different versions of PDF/A, PDF/A-1; PDF/A-2; and PDF/A-3. PDF/A-2 allows the embedding of other PDF/A files, whereas embedded files are not possible in PDF/A-1, and PDF/A-3 also makes it possible to embed XML and CAD files.

You may see the PDF/A format referenced as the ISO [International Organization for Standardization] 19005 standard. Acrobat will include this reference in messages sometimes. Adobe Acrobat includes the option to save files to the PDF/A format - which uses the same .pdf extension.

If you think you can escape worring about PDF/A, guess again. PACER has an announcement on site at, indicating that there are plans for the federal courts to make the use of PDF/A mandatory for court filings. Each district court is going to set a different deadline after which PDF/A will be the required format. The U.S. District Court in Pittsburgh began requiring filings to be in the PDF/A format in 2012, and the First Department of the New York Appellate Division also specifies that PDF/A format be used.

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