PDF/UA: Creation tools

PDF/UA in a Nutshell

In principle, universally-accessible PDF documents can either be generated directly during document creation, using a suitable program, or indirectly generated by adapting an existing PDF document. The indirect approach tends to require a great deal of work, as all tags and numerous other settings will need to be provided manually.

This work can also become void as soon as a new version of the PDF document replaces the old one, if any changes to the document’s content need to be made. The adaptation process must then be started again from scratch.

The direct approach is almost always the better option; post-creation PDF edits should be avoided or at least kept to a minimum. Either way, it is essential that the document creation program can perform the functions required and that the document creator can make use of them. Although only a few programs currently support PDF/UA in its entirety, a wide range of options still exist in the form of the programs listed alphabethical below:

Software Developer Application PDF/UA functions
Acrobat XI Pro Adobe Systems PDF document creation, editing and viewing
  • Create and edit content tags
  • Mark page content as artefacts
  • Add alternative text
  • Specify the language(s) used for a document and specific content within it
  • Feature to add basic accessibility to any PDF
  • Fast, extensive accessibility checking
Adobe Distiller Server 8  Adobe Systems Converts PostScript files to PDF
  • Create tagged PDFs
  • Requires specific pdfmark codes within the PostScript files
axesPDF for Word xyMedia Add-in for Word 2007 and Word 2010.Helps the user to use Word functions and compensates for weaknesses and errors resulting from exporting a tagged PDF from Word.
  • Specify the language of a document
  • Set up a series of tabs based on the document structure
  • Specify the document title and include it in the document window
  • Use all standard PDF tags
  • Advanced table tagging
  • Tag all content or mark it as an artefact
  • Integrated validation function
CommonLook Office 1.2 NetCentric Technologies Plug-in for Word and PowerPoint. It uses checkpoints to take users through the authoring software’s accessibility functions
  • Guided review of document based on checkpoints
  • Adjust alternative text for images
  • Correct mappings between styles and tags
  • Advanced table tagging
  • Enhanced tagged PDF export
  • Generate bookmarks
  • Support for accessible PDF forms
FrameMaker 11 Adobe Systems The authoring software FrameMaker creates publications and technical documentation.
  • Create tagged PDFs
  • Define alternative text for images
InDesign CS5.5/CS6/CC Adobe Systems Professional layout program for printed and digital publications; allows exporting to tagged PDF
  • Assign export tags to paragraph styles
  • Anchor images within the text flow
  • Define alternative text for images
  • Define metadata
  • Define reading order using the “Article” panel
  • Add links (bookmarks, table of contents, hyperlinks and cross-references)
  • Define tab order for form fields based on the document structure
  • Export as tagged PDF
iText iText Software Programming library for creating PDF documents
  • Create tagged PDFs
  • Supports all tagged PDF functions
  • Used properly, it can create fully PDF/UA-compliant documents
MadeToTag axaio software Plug-in for Adobe InDesign CS5.5, CS6 and CC.Takes users step-by-step through the process required to prepare the document for export as a universally accessible tagged PDF; compensates for weaknesses and errors in InDesign PDF export
  • Support and visual feedback for tag assignment, reading order, alternative text, language settings, advanced table tagging, and metadata
  • Directly export to PDF/UA format
Microsoft Office 2007/2010 Microsoft Contains word processor Word, spreadsheet tool Excel and presentation software PowerPoint, among others; supports output in tagged PDF format
  • Validate accessibility of Office documents
  • Prepare documents for export in tagged format, e.g. assign tags, specify alternative text, define language
  • Create tagged PDFs
Writer 3.4
Apache Software Foundation Word processing software. Supports PDF output.
  • Create tagged PDFs
PDFlib 9 PDFlib Programming library for creating PDF documents
  • Create tagged PDFs
  • Supports all tagged PDF functions
  • Used properly, it can create fully PDF/UA-compliant documents
PDFMaker Adobe Systems When installing Adobe Acrobat on Windows, this is added to Microsoft Office, Lotus Notes, AutoCAD and others; it can be used within these programs to create PDFs.
  • Create tagged PDFs
  • Compensates for weaknesses and errors in PDF export functions found in Microsoft Office


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About PDF Association

Founded in 2006 as the PDF/A Competence Center, the PDF Association exists to promote the adoption and implementation of International Standards for PDF technology.

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