When the PDF file format was first developed, it was only of one type, but the many versions and types that we see today only developed later on. In this article, I will discuss four main types of PDF in existence today starting with PDF/X. PDF/X is a PDF standard that was introduced by the Committee for Graphic Arts Technology Standards, also abbreviated as CGATS. The standard was introduced under ISO standards 15929 and ISO 15930 back in the year 2001. The main purpose of this standard is to ensure that a printed PDF document mirrors its digital counterpart exactly the same.
Printing conditions are usually specified in the PDF/X file and active content is not permitted. Active content includes things such as comments, embedded multimedia, signatures, and forms. With every change in PDF standards themselves, PDF/X standards also changed over time.
Let’s look at PDF/A, PDF/VT, and PDF/UA,
PDF/A – Archiving
PDF/A is classified as a subset of PDF 1.4. This standard of PDF was designed for long-term document preservation and recordkeeping. That means that this standard is meant for creating documents that are to be used some time later in future. The standards that specify PDF/A were released in the year 2005.
All documents that are created to comply with PDF/A always retain the layout that they were designed with for several years to come. There are a few subsets of PDF/A, which include PDF/A-2 and PDF/A-3. PDF/A-2 is designed as a subtype of ISO 32000-1 while PDF/A-3 is a subtype of ISO standard 32000-1. PDF/A-3 provides support for embedded files and it implements guidelines that are specified in the latest PDF features.
PDF/VT – Variable and transactional printing
PDF/VT is a variant of PDF/X-4, which is also a PDF/X implementation. It was released to the public in 2010. This subset of PDF is used when you want to do variable and transactional printing. What we mean variable printing is a case where you can print multiple invitation cards with each being addressed to a different recipient located at a different address. For instance, you can print many invitation cards but ensure that each print has a different name and address. The name and the address are changed on each printout.
On the other hand, transactional printing refers to the printing of forms such as telephone bills. The information on these forms is changed depending on the information of a specific customer.
PDF/UA – Universal accessibility
PDF/UA is meant for people with various kinds of disability. It is an international standard that ensures that PDF documents are accessible and usable by people with different kinds of disabilities. These people usually use assistive technology that helps them to consume electronic content. This subset of PDF depends on tagged PDF and was first released in the year 2012.
All the various subsets of PDF discussed here can be converted to other types of files such as MS Word. For instance, you can use PDF converter to word to change any kind of PDF to a word document so that you can edit it.