What is PDF/A?

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The ISO 19005-1 standard defines that PDF/A is the recommended storage format for the long-term preservation of digital documents such as tax, legal, historical and other important documents.

Currently most image scanned documents are stored in a variety of common standards such as TIFF, PDF, HTML, Jpeg etc., but it was felt that adopting a ‘consolidated’ format – PDF/A  - would solve issues of original  file integrity raised by corporate, HIPAA, Sarbanes-Oxley or other legal requirements.

Organisations such as the International Standards Organisation in conjunction with the US Courts, Library of Congress, ARMA, AIIM, NARA , large corporations, governments and major institutions around the world, were involved in approving this international standard.

The advantage of PDF/A format is that it will not become a “legacy” or “incompatible” file format as PDF technology evolves, as using this standard is the best way to ensure that you will be able to search, retrieve, view and print your documents in the future. This new standard defines a subset of PDF 1.4 format and composition rules that will withstand the test of time.

PDF/A is device-independent, self-contained, and self-documenting (with XMP metatags) and is transparent to direct analysis with basic tools i.e. The PDF /A format can hold index values as additional meta data so it can be independent of any EDM storage system if required and it inhibits the use of PDF functionality that could cause a problem in a future release.

IPC’s Marketing Manager Pam Roberts commented:

PDF/A answers the issue of electronic file integrity that some clients have been concerned about in relation to legal challenges in the future. We expect that Clients will gradually adopt PDF/A as a standard at least for certain classifications of documents, where importance or value of the information demands such a standard.
As you would expect, IPC can offer PDF/A as an output format to clients as a service, and would encourage them to ask for more details.

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