Latest PDF Standards

PDF ISO Standards

The PDF format is a versatile one, and its popularity has been increasing over the years steadily. It’s the preferred document format by engineers, businesses, legal workers, developers, and anyone who needs a reliable software for document work.

On Google, you can see the total amount of documents that exist for the different types of files.

Doc at 920,000,000
XPS at 45,000,000
PDF at around 3,500,000,000

As you can see, the difference is huge in favor of the PDF file, and there’s a reason for that. The document format provides a variety of features and security controls. It also ensures that the original layout will remain, even when the viewing device changes.

Not long ago, the PDF accepted the ISO standardization, and every now then, a new standard is released. It’s easy to get lost and forget some of them with so many, so we’ve decided to compile a list for you.

PDF (ISO 32000:1-2008)

The ISO standardization was initially accepted in 2008 by PDF due to its increased popularity. Since that day, ISO is responsible for frequent updates and developments on the format’s future versions.

PDF/A (ISO 19005-1:2005)

Adobe developed the PDF/A archive for the long-term storage of files. It’s a specific version with many restrictions to ensure that the archived document will remain unharmed and available for viewing in the distant future.

This means that some of the features aren’t working because they can modify the file when opened in the future. Such restrictions include video content, encryption, audio, JavaScript, etc.

A couple of years ago, the standard format for archiving purposes was TIFF. However, it was considered unreliable for long-term storage purposes as it served as a photograph of the content. Thus it cannot be searched for text, making the navigation troublesome.

PDF/UA (ISO/AWI 14289)

The PDF/UA file addresses areas of universal accessibility. It analyses the content of the file to determine whether it’s suitable for use with assistive technologies. However, it is not yet accepted as an official standard.

PDF/E (ISO 24517-1:2008)

The PDF/E format is suitable for individuals who work with 3D drawings, animations, AutoCAD, and other similar activities.

In the days, Adobe was under attack by engineers, as it displayed poorly large and complex engineering drawings. The answer to that is the PDF/E format created t serve the engineering community for creating and sharing large documentation.

PDF/X (ISO 15929:2002)

The normal PDF version can be used for e-mails, documents, web pages, and other simple purposes.

But, when you need a high-quality print, then you’ll need something more advanced, such as the PDF/X. Under the umbrella of the X format, there are few others, such as PDF/X1-a, PDF/X-2 &

It is used for high-quality graphics, and the standard is perfect for printing fine pieces of content. The whole process is strictly defined by the standard to ensure quality production.


It all began with John Warnock’s Camelot project over 25 years ago. Looking back, we can say that PDF has gone a long way, and its popularity is proof of its capabilities.

You never know what they can surprise us with in the future. One is for sure; there’s a lot more to come as PDF continues to play an integral role in the day-to-day document handling. Learn more about the ISO standards in Sodapdf.

Image source: Freepik Premium

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