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How to read ISO publications about PDF

April 2024 by Peter Wyatt (PDF Association)

ISO standards are not tailored to their domain; the same set of rules applies to all ISO standards, regardless of industry or subject.

For those unfamiliar with “ISO-ese” nuances are easily overlooked, which can result in malformed files, erroneous implementations, and problems with interoperability.

Many sentences in ISO-standardized PDF specifications are carefully crafted in an attempt to accurately communicate a very specific meaning. These nuances may be difficult to recognize if the reader does not have a good understanding of how ISO standards are written.

It is therefore important that developers engaging with ISO standards – especially those developers for whom English is not a primary language – understand how to interpret “ISO-ese”.

This article provides some basic information about ISO’s language and offers a short list of things to remember when reviewing ISO standards for PDF.

PDF/A & PDF/UA, together at last!

March 2024 by PDF Association staff (PDF Association)
PDF in the Wild


The latest veraPDF release candidate adds PDF/UA-2 support. LibreOffice creates PDF/A and PDF/UA together. A “white paper” gets PDF wrong, again. Visualizing Warichū. 

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February 2024 by PDF Association staff (PDF Association)
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PDF Week Online 2024 week 2 is coming up! Did you know that PDF 2.0 adds ARIA to PDF? How … Read more

PDF in the Wild

January 2024 by PDF Association staff (PDF Association)
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LibreOffice now supports PDF/UA! AI LLMs’ support for PDF is substandard, and is retarding innovation. Yet more misinformation about malware. … Read more

PDF in the Wild

December 2023 by PDF Association staff (PDF Association)
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Verizon is tricked by a fraudulent PDF, a family tree of PDF specifications, veraPDF is tops for the Open Preservation … Read more

PDF in the Wild

November 2023 by PDF Association staff (PDF Association)
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We wanted to know how well ChatGPT processes PDF files. So we signed up for ChatGPT 4.0, the paid version, … Read more

PDF in the Wild

October 2023 by PDF Association staff (PDF Association)
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The PDF Association is perhaps DARPA’s smallest-ever prime contractor. For DARPA’s SafeDocs program, however, it’s also the biggest success story.

PDF in the Wild

September 2023 by PDF Association staff (PDF Association)
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Funky (but legit!) PDF, sneaky malware PDF, poisoned PDF, PDF for LEGO, NASA does PDF… it’s a wild PDF world … Read more

PDF in the Wild

August 2023 by PDF Association staff (PDF Association)
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LLMs and generative artificial intelligence, as much (or more) than everything else computers can do, is subject to the iron … Read more

PDF in the Wild

July 2023 by PDF Association staff (PDF Association)
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The most recent specification of PDF doesn’t limit page size… at all. That’s up to the implementation.

PDF in the Wild

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