Typical uses for PDF/A

PDF/A in a Nutshell 2.0 – PDF for long-term archiving

The PDF/A standard has proved its suitability for a wide variety of tasks. Here we can show you just a few brief practical examples.

  • Scanned documents for archiving: PDF/A is widely used to digitise paper-based files and records. A document scanner reads the original text, and specially designed software automatically converts the data into a searchable PDF/A file.
  • Archive migration: Solutions exist to help digital archives which are still using older formats to migrate to PDF/A. In most cases, the process can even be automated.
  • Incoming and outgoing mail: Whether a company receives letters or emails, PDF/A provides a reliable storage format for them. Letters can be automatically scanned and archived as PDF/A files, and emails and their attachments can be stored in PDF/A too. There are also great advantages to storing a copy of all outgoing mail in PDF/A format. Outgoing mail data can be retrieved from popular print data streams such as AFP (Advanced Function Presentation).
  • Office documents: If your presentations, spreadsheets and text documents are likely to have long-term relevance and need to remain available for long periods of time, then PDF/A is the perfect format in which to archive them. The original programme used may directly support this to some extent, or you can use additional software packages. In both cases, the process can be automated.
  • Documentation and typesetting: Brochures and instruction books are usually created using layout programs and editorial systems. As a result, an archivable PDF can be created at the same time without significant extra work. This can either be done using external solutions (rather than using the original program that created the document) or using a print-ready PDF which is often already available in the PDF/X format, the ISO standard for print documents.
  • Creating documents from databases: Many PDF/A files were originally created from databases or were created using XML data. This structured input data often allows you to create PDF/A Conformance Level A documents. You can also convert forms to PDF/A.
  • Digital document folders: As of PDF/A-3, source documents can also be embedded directly into a PDF/A file in their original format. This eliminates time-consuming hybrid archiving processes in which additional documents (Excel tables, image files, CAD drawings) had to be managed separately from the archived PDF/A file in their original formats. Thanks to PDF/A-3, all relevant information is now contained within a single file.
  • Team collaboration: PDF/A-3 in particular is exceptionally powerful and flexible when used within modern collaboration frameworks. Its hybrid approach means that each document can contain the current working version of a document and the final – archive-ready – version. As a result, PDF/A-3 provides ideal support for all the most important functions within a Microsoft SharePoint environment, for example. In particular, this includes collaborative work on documents as well as distribution and archiving.

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About Alexandra Oettler

Alexandra Oettler ist (Co-) Autorin der Bücher PDF/A kompakt und PDF/A kompakt 2.0.

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