PDF/A Frequently Asked Questions

  • 1. What is PDF/A?

    PDF/A is an International Standards Organization (ISO) standard document format. It is a subset of the PDF standard which excludes those PDF features that give rise to concerns about security and the ability to archive documents.

  • 2. Why does the judiciary need to move to PDF/A for its CM/ECF documents?

    To reduce security risks and to improve the ability to archive those documents. Since its inception in 1995, CM/ECF has required that documents be filed in PDF format. Over the years, PDF has had many features added to it, and some of those features have created security risks. Formal security audits have pointed out the vulnerability. PDF/A eliminates those security risks and also enhances the ability to archive with the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA).

  • 3. When will the District of Nebraska require that all documents filed in CM/ECF be in PDF/A format?

    Although the Judiciary has not yet set a deadline for requiring all electronic files to be uploaded in a PDF/A format, all users are encouraged to begin to transition their filings to this new standard as soon as possible.

  • 4. Which PDF/A format should filers use: 1a or 1b?

    PDF/A 1a is preferred; PDF/A 1b meets the minimum requirement. Users with the option should select PDF/A 1a.

  • 5. Should I select RGB or CMYK when publishing to PDF/A?

    CMYK and RGB are both color specifications, and, therefore, this setting does not affect a black and white document. Accordingly, either setting is acceptable. If you are submitting a document for which an exact color match is required, use CMYK for a better result.

  • 6. How are PDF/A documents created?

    Creation from electronic documents

    PDF/A documents can be created by most word processor programs.  The necessary settings for some popular products are given at OpenOffice settings for PDF/A, Microsoft Word settings for PDF/A, and Corel WordPerfect X4 settings for PDF/A.  For information about creating PDF/A documents with Adobe Acrobat 9 Professional or Standard, see Creating PDF/A documents with Acrobat.

    Creation from scanned documents

    Some scanning software is capable of directly creating PDF/A format documents.  If your software does not have the capability, the document may need scanned as a regular PDF and then converted.  To keep file sizes down and to ensure that files are text-searchable, PDF/A documents should be created using a word processing program (like WordPerfect or Microsoft Word), rather than being printed out in hard copy and scanned.

  • 7. How does the PDF/A requirement affect Mac users?

    Microsoft Word 2008 for Mac cannot create PDF/A documents, but can create PDF documents which can be converted to PDF/A. Alternately, a Mac user can install and use OpenOffice, which is available for free; see OpenOffice settings for PDF/A.