PDF/A Creation with Adobe Acrobat

Overview & Requirements

There are a number of products that support the conversion to PDF/A from various starting file formats. Some of these programs are free and/or open source. For many reasons, FGS strongly recommends the procedures described below and the use of Adobe Acrobat software to convert the thesis, via a postscript file intermediate, into a fully compatible PDF/A format.

Note: If you are converting from a Microsoft Word document, it is also possible to use recent versions of Word to create a PDF/A file.

The Adobe Creative Suite (including Acrobat) is installed on the "Multimedia" computers in the Killam Learning Commons. Please note that the free Adobe Reader is NOT able to create PDF/A files.

Converting to PDF/A

We have found the best route for converting a thesis to a PDF/A document is to generate an intermediary postscript file and then convert the postscript file to a PDF/A file.

NOTE: The postscript file must be created on a computer that is displaying the thesis correctly (usually the computer on which the thesis was written) in order to ensure all fonts are properly embedded.

Converting to Postscript

Postscript using Mac OS X

OS X already includes postscript functionality and allows for a simple conversion to postscript using the built-in printing system.

  • Open your complete thesis document in whatever program was used to create it (Word, Pages, etc.)
  • Under the FILE menu, choose PRINT
  • In the dialog box, click on the drop down menu in the lower left corner and choose SAVE AS POSTSCRIPT
  • This will save your file as a postscript file that has a .ps extension

Postscript using Windows

Although Windows does not have native postscript functionality, the full version of Adobe Acrobat adds support for this format.

  • Open Adobe Acrobat (this must be the full version, not just the free reader)
  • Under the FILE menu, choose OPEN
  • Locate and open your thesis
    • If Acrobat can't open your file automatically, you will need to open the file in whatever program you normally use and print the document to the "Adobe PDF" printer. This will generate a regular (non-archival) PDF file that can be opened and displayed in Acrobat.
  • Under the FILE menu, choose SAVE AS
  • Select POSTSCRIPT (*.PS) from the SAVE AS TYPE dropdown
  • Save your postscript file (with a .ps extension) and close Acrobat

Converting to PDF/A from Postscript

The following instructions assume that you are using a computer with the full version of Adobe Acrobat, which includes Adobe Distiller. Please note that the free Adobe Reader is NOT able to create PDF/A files.

  • Launch Distiller
  • Select the "PDF/A-1b" profile/file format
  • Use Distiller to open the postscript file you created earlier
  • Distiller should spend a few minutes converting/validating your thesis
  • Save the newly-created PDF/A file with the appropriate file name (follow FGS thesis filename conventions) and a .pdf extension

When you open your PDF/A document in Adobe Reader, you should see a blue bar that says the file has been opened in PDF/A mode. This indicates that the file has been signed by Distiller as conforming to the PDF/A standard.

If the conversion process failed, pay close attention to the error message produced by Distiller. This can be helpful in trouble shooting.

Important Note

Please check your file carefully to ensure that the conversion process did not alter your work in any way. Typical issues with PDF/A conversion include image corruption and changes to the layout/formatting of your text.