New US Federal Government Transfer Guidance Released

The National Archives and Records Administration, the US federal agency charged with retention of government records, has just issued NARA Bulletin 2014-004, the new Transfer Guidance for federal agencies.

Last updated in 2003, this Bulletin “specifies which file formats are acceptable when transferring permanent electronic records to NARA.” The guidance applies to all federal records.

This iteration of NARA’s Transfer Guidance incorporates a number of changes specific to distinct categories of documents.


  • PDF/E and PRC are “acceptable”

For Scanned Text

  • PDF/A-1 is “preferred”
  • PDF/A-2 is “acceptable”

For Digital Posters

  • PDF/A-1 is “preferred”

For Presentation Formats

  • PDF/A-1 is “preferred”
  • PDF/A-2 is “acceptable”

For Textual Data Formats

  • PDF/A-1 and PDF/A-2 are “preferred”
  • PDF 1.7 and PDF 1.0 – 1.6 are “acceptable” 

See NARA’s 2014-004 Transfer Guidance, Appendix A for more details. PDF Association Vice Chairman Duff Johnson has written an unofficial summary of the changes as they pertain to PDF.

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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