NSDA Report on Implications of New PDF/A-3 Standard

I wanted to share the announcement of a new report from the National Digital Stewardship Alliance on the PDF/A-3 file format specification that was released in late 2012. The PDF/A specifications are fairly widely used to define a “more preservable” subset of the hugely complex general PDF specification (A is for “archival”). The new “incremental” upgrade to PDF/A raises some very nasty issues for institutions relying on this specification in an archival context; at the very least, migration to this new version is going to take some careful consideration, and potentially some substantial expense and disruption. There’s a helpful short overview on the Library of Congress Digital Preservation blog at:


The full report is at


Many thanks to NDSA for alerting the community to this serious potential problem, and for a good analysis of the issues involved.

Clifford Lynch

Last updated:  Thursday, February 20th, 2014