PDF/A Format and its difference from PDF Format (part 1)

  • Home
  • /
  • Blog
  • /
  • PDF/A Format and its difference from PDF Format (part 1)
Try Free SQL Trainer - learn by doing!
SQL queries made easy - Natural Questions to SQL Converter.

PDF/A (Archival)

PDF/A (Archival Portable Document Format) or commonly referred as the archival PDF is a type of standard PDF, which is used to store information for a longer period of time as compared to the traditional PDF. PDF/A is an ISO standardized variation of PDF and is widely used to preserve electronic documents and files, digitally for longer periods of time.

History and Purpose

The traditional PDF document format relies on lots of external information when a document is created. This external information can fonts used from external font libraries, third party encryption algorithms or some external color scheme. A drawback of this external information usage is that standards often change in the long run and it is not possible to retrieve the same information from the document as it was encoded. Long term data storage is not feasible with the traditional PDF encoding. PDF documents are the mostly widely used documents.
PDF/A was the joint venture among three organizations, Publishing and Converting Technologies, The Association for Suppliers of Printing and Association for Information and Image Management. These organization collaborated together to develop such a PDF version which could avoid the use of external information in document creation and hence the resultant document can be stored for longer periods of time.


  •      Legal documents need to be stored for longer period of time for the sake of keeping record, PDF/A is most suited to this sector.
  •      PDF/A is also suitable to digital libraries where books needs to be stored for longer periods of time.
  • Newspaper and print media makes wide use of PDF/A document format for newspaper archiving.


Converting PDF to text and extracting images from PDF are very common task for developers and that can be solved with Bytescout PDF Extractor SDK.