Home » Blog » 8 Types Of PDF Standards And How They Perform

8 Types Of PDF Standards And How They Perform

If you must understand the PDF standards, there are a total of 8 PDF Standards. 6 of these are ISO Standards and the other 2 are from other organizations. The International Standards Organization or ISO is an organization that issues certifications to any product that meets its standards. They cover many industries and that also includes PDF document files.

ISO sets the standard based on a rigorous certification process in assuring quality, universality, and reliability. This organization has guaranteed that their PDF Standards have guaranteed quality that has been based on different accumulated probable situations and sets of circumstances.

The standard you use will be based on the document’s circumstances. You should think of how your PDF will be stored, shared, printed, read, or viewed.


The standard developed for long-term file storage is the PDF/A. Records managers, compliance managers, and archivists choose to convert PDF to PDFA.

Although some features are not allowed to be converted into PDF/A. The restriction list starts with audio, video content, and also JavaScript. They can disallow users or owners from opening and viewing in the future. PDF/A was created by Adobe Systems for files to be kept in long lengths of time. And I mean, thirty or maybe fifty years long.

This idea may have been inspired by ancient Egyptians. Egyptians used to carve stories and names into papyrus and ink. And we have them today as proof of how long and how far these ancient files have been.


The basic and general PDF standard. The PDF ISO standard is sufficient for school, office, work use, free reading online, and sharing for standard quality documents.

It started in the year 2008, where ISO established the standards. As popular and universal as it is becoming, and how moving forward it is going. ISO is responsible for any updating and more development of future versions of the PDF specification.


A standard for a graphic designer, a print professional, and a creative professional because of the high quality, professional-grade documents that this standard can comply with. The PDF/X standard will ensure a print-ready document by correctly embedding color profiles, images, fonts, and more.

Plain or old PDFs can be a match for this PDF standard. The purpose for choosing this standard is for simple electronic hard copies of web pages and email threads. A format for real-time review and commenting.


For engineers, architects, product manufacturing teams, and construction professionals, this is the standard that will suit their jobs well. PDF/E was intended to address the key issues of large-format multimedia, drawings, form fields, and rights management, etc. that can prevent the engineering community from utilizing and accepting PDF as a part of their work tool.

After hours and hours of working on your drawings and animations, PDF/E will be able to help you. Unlike before, PDF has come a long way for the engineering community with rendering large and complex engineering drawings, and even 3D drawings now. Engineering professionals, as well as Architects, can create, review, and exchange large-format documentations.


A PDF/UA specifically addresses the possibility of universal accessibility as it is in its name. PDF/UA will aim authoring, validation, remediation of PDF content to be assured that PDF/UA is best suited for assistive technologies.

Although this standard is on the waiting list of officially being a PDF standard, it is hoped that it will be made official for ensuring PDFs to be created in an accessible way. Read Out Loud features built into newer versions of the Adobe Reader are one step and an attempt for Adobe to assist in this area.


Based on the components of the PDF/X standards, the PDF/VT allows some features such as layers, color profiles, and transparency to be maintained. Pint professionals will be happy to use this standard as a tool for their documents.

The most exciting part about this standard is the addition of being able to customize data within these files. You can personalize bank statements, marketing material, or business invoices.

Two Types of PDF Standards from Other Organizations

Here are two more standards that are categorized as standards from other organizations for their specific document needs and purpose.

PDF Healthcare

“Provides best practices and implementation guidelines to facilitate the capture, exchange, preservation, and protection of healthcare information. Following these guidelines provides a more secure electronic container that can store and transmit health information including personal documents, XML data, DICOM images and data, clinical notes, lab reports, electronic forms, scanned images, photographs, digital X-rays and ECGs.“ This is what the PDF Healthcare Standards is about according to Adobe. A PDF for this specific field makes data more protected and trusted information for everyone who needs a trustworthy opinion. This will record history after history of information for each individual.


The PAdES was established for PDF digital signatures in the EU. This Standard is known to standardize secure and paperless transactions that agree to the European legislation.

In A Nutshell 

A PDF or Portable Document Format is the industry standard for sharing, reading, and printing documents. Every document you have converted, may it be Excel, PowerPoint, Word, or even Pictures, has the choice of being saved with a specific standard.

Every standard has its pros and cons. Some better than the other but it will always be according to your file. Most files won’t last long-term storage, and some standards will not be able to agree with your file’s requirements or will not be able to keep its format as desired.

Choosing the standard for your file is determined by the purpose it was created for. Mostly for specific job types which will suit what they do. And saving your file with a different standard than its purpose may result in difficulties in printing, sharing, reading, archiving the file, or when you simply open your file. If you need an all-in-one tool for your PDF-related needs, then you can check out PDFBear online!