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About the contributor
PDF Association

Mission Statement: To promote Open Standards-based electronic document implementations using PDF technology through education, expertise and shared experience for stakeholders worldwide.
More contributions
2022: The last year of paper for records-keeping

NARA (The National Archives and Records Administration) is the final depository for the long-term records generated by all other agencies of the U.S. Federal Government. The agency has a key role in preserving the cultural history of the republic as we …

PDF 2.0 examples now available

The PDF Association is proud to present the first PDF 2.0 example files made available to the public. Created and donated to the PDF Association by Datalogics, this initial set of PDF 2.0 examples were crafted by hand and intentionally made simple in construction to serve as teaching tools for learning PDF file structure and syntax.

PDF 2.0 interops help vendors

The PDF 2.0 interop workshops included many vendors with products for creating, editing and processing PDF files. They came together in Boston, Massachusetts for a couple of days to test their own software against 3rd party files.

PDF Days Europe underscores the importance of PDF as a key component of business processes

2017 marks a record number of attendees / Experts shared fully-grounded wisdom on PDF standards across the two-day event Berlin. With over 200 attendees, this year’s PDF Days Europe in Berlin was a significant success with the largest attendance of any …

Slides and video recordings of the PDF Days Europe 2017

About 35 informative sessions across a wide range of topics, including the next-generation PDF project. Within the video frames you can use the red “play” button to get a short impression of the talk or can enjoy the high resolution version by clicking …

Email archiving with PDF/A


The main challenge when archiving emails is the absolute menagerie of different file formats a business has to deal with. There is the email itself, of course, but the real problem is the attachments, which can be images, scanned documents or PDF, Word or Excel files. These formats tend to be proprietary and non-standard, but converting emails and their attachments to PDF/A will ensure they remain readable for long periods of time. The format is ‘complete’: all fonts are embedded within the file, for example, as is the relevant metadata. PDF/A also ensures that a file will be displayed exactly the same on any system and forbids any dynamic content. Finally – and this is the most important argument of all – the ISO standard is designed for long-term archiving, guaranteeing that files saved in the PDF/A format will remain reproducible and readable for decades to come. We can consider it guaranteed that a PDF/A viewer will always be available over the span of time required for archiving.

During the conversion process, the header information within an email is extracted and added to the PDF/A file’s XMP metadata, allowing users to search for specific emails. The body of the email is converted to PDF/A and stored as the PDF/A file itself. The three different versions of the PDF/A standard open up a range of options which all come into play when archiving email attachments: PDF/A-1 adds any attachments to the end of an email as additional pages. PDF/A-2 allows the user to embed additional PDF/A files, meaning that attachments can be integrated as PDF/A files in their own right. The third and latest version of the standard, PDF/A-3, goes a step further: because it allows users to embed any file type, attachments can be integrated into the archive-ready file in both source and PDF/A formats. The email can also be embedded in its original format, if desired, meaning that it can then be opened in an email client – to reply to the sender, for example. Under this system, it is important to preserve the relationship between archive-ready documents, emails and attachments within the PDF/A file – to ensure, in other words, that this relationship is not dependent on the archive itself. This guarantees complete system neutrality, a key advantage which can avoid issues such as time-intensive system migration projects down the line. When choosing and integrating PDF/A tools, archivists should seek expert advice. One good source of information on the subject is the PDF Association. The PDF/A Competence Center is a subdivision of the Association, forming an excellent point of contact with a wide range of PDF/A experts.

Dietrich von Seggern, Business Development Manager, callas software GmbH, summarized the situation: “More and more businesses are archiving emails in PDF/A format. Handling attachments is a critical part of this strategy, and the third version of the PDF/A standard allows them to be archived as both original and archive-ready files.


Tags: Archiving, PDF/A-3, long-term archiving
Categories: PDF/A