PDF/A-1b Tips

Tips for Obtaining PDF/A-1b Compliance

Originally complied by

  1. Acrobat Professional (version 9.0+) is available in the library’s e‐Classroom or Library Media Lab or GEB Lab. The most current version is
  2. When you install Adobe Acrobat 9.0 on your personal computer, make sure to install the PDF Printer (Adobe Acrobat Printer - Windows versions).  Note: the latest version of Word for Mac (2011) does not use an Acrobat Printer selection in the same way that the Adobe Acrobat Windows version does.  Instead for the Mac, there is a PDF pull-down menu button in the lower left of your printer dialog window. You would want to select the Save as Adobe option and change the conversion option in the subsequent window to PDF/A-1b.  This utility in the Mac will automatically embed standard fonts.
  3. Any annotations by the format reviewers (usually a transparent yellow highlight) must be removed prior to attempting a conversion to PDF/A-1b format.
  4. Color must be in RGB format, not CMYK.  Most graphic software will allow you to save your graphics in either format; use RGB or sRGB.
  5. Resize images to 100% final output size and use 300 dpi (dots‐per‐inch) for images.
  6. Images need to be compressed using ZIP compression, not LZW compression. Photoshop or similar programs give you a choice.  Use tiff or jpg image formats. Gif format can be used but is generally poor quality.
  7. Images must be flattened and saved as RGB. Multiple layers in images will cause transparency errors. Programs such as Adobe Photoshop and Elements allow you to flatten image layers. When exporting graphics from Adobe Illustrator or Freehand flatten all transparencies before exporting.
  8. If you copied and pasted a URL into your document (e.g., from PubMed), you will need to delete it and retype it, or remove the formatting before pasting by converting to ascii or plain text. Copying and  pasting includes underlying HTML that will not allow  PDF/A-1b compliance.
  9. Consistently use the same computer platform (Mac or PC) and the same computer if possible.
  10. If you used a nonstandard font (e.g., Wingdings), it will not be embedded and will not allow compliance. For Greek and other similar scientific notation, use the Insert menu in Word for special characters.
  11. Select the PDF/A 1b profile under settings or properties to force embedded fonts. Even the recommended fonts can create problems. If you are getting a noncompliance error message because of fonts, try changing the font to another recommended font.
  12. Internal PDF security of any kind is not allowed.

If you do not seem to be able to resolve your problem with PDF/A-1b compliance, call or email...

Larry Tague
Phone: 901-448-7152
Email:  ltague@uthsc.edu