Digital Content Creation



Digital Content Creation

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6.0 Best Practices For PDF Creation

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Adobe Portable Document Format (PDF) is an open standard (known as ISO 32000) for distributing electronic documents. This universal file format preserves the exact look and feel of any source document, including all of the fonts, formatting, colors, and graphics, regardless of the application and platform used to create it. Adobe PDF files can be opened reliably across a broad range of hardware and software with the free Adobe Acrobat Reader® software (  Additionally, some cell phones (e.g., iPhone) and electronic book readers (e.g., Kindle) enable PDF viewing.  Best practices for creating PDFs involve making PDFs that contain a variety of features that make them user friendly, including accessible to users with disabilities.

Table Of Contents

6.1 Uses of PDF Format

6.2 Required Features

6.3 Additional Good Features That Are Recommended If Time Permits

6.4 Archival PDFs








6.1 Uses of PDF Format


Because PDF files look like original documents and preserve source file information - text, drawings, maps, full-color graphics, photos, etc. - they are excellent for presenting and distributing digitized content.  PDF documents can be made full-text searchable and also work with assistive technology, making them accessible to users with disabilities.  The Library commonly uses the PDF format as one of its access formats for textual print resources that it digitizes.


6.2 Required Features


All PDFs of digitized textual content from the Library's collections should include the following features:



6.3 Additional Good Features That Are Recommended If Time Permits



6.4 Archival PDFs


If master image files have been created and preserved, PDFs can be created from them and optimized for web access. However, if PDF is the only format being created (e.g., if a document has been scanned to PDF format with no initial master, or archival, image files being created), a high resolution PDF/A should be made in addition to the low resolution format for web viewing.

PDF/A-1 is a constrained form of Adobe PDF version 1.4 intended to be suitable for long-term preservation of page-oriented documents.  All of the information necessary for displaying the document in the same manner every time is embedded in the file. This includes all visible content like text, raster images, vector graphics, fonts, color information and much more.


The PDF/A format attempts to maximize[1]:

The constraints include:


[1] PDF/A-1, PDF for Long-term Preservation, Use of PDF 1.4 (Library of Congress, Sustainability of Digital Formats website:


7.0 Descriptive Metadata

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