Ready for CM/ECF Changes: Conforming Existing PDF files to PDF/A

The Federal Courts recently posted notice of the CM/ECF Transition to PDF/A on the PACER website.PDF/A Badge Logo

The PACER announcement offers minimal information. Many questions are left unanswered.

As I mentioned in my recent post Federal Courts Moving to Require PDF/A, creating and conforming PDF/A files may require substantial changes in your workflow.

While traveling in Washington, DC last week, I met with some court employees. It looks like the court is going to require PDF/A-1b, the less restrictive flavor of PDF/A. That’s good news, but is still unofficial.

PACER already accepts PDF/A files. I recommend testing your document processes now before the court mandates the change.

While creating PDF/A files from an electronic source isn’t too hard, conforming existing files can be a challenge.

PDF/A requires all fonts to be embedded in the document. If you have an existing PDF with an original electronic source, it is very possible, perhaps even likely that the fonts are not embedded.

Both Acrobat 9 Pro and Acrobat X Pro can embed fonts and conform existing files to PDF/A, assuming you have the source fonts on your computer.

I’ve found Acrobat X to do a more reliable job re-embedding fonts compared to Acrobat 9. In this article, I cover the method to conform an existing PDF for both Acrobat X Pro and Acrobat 9 Pro.

Conforming existing Files to PDF/A-1b

Here’s how to conform an existing file to PDF/A-1b in anticipation of the CM/ECF transition to PDF/A.

I’ve included instructions for both Acrobat 9 and Acrobat X.

  1. Open the PDF you wish to conform
  2. Open the Preflight Window
  3. In Acrobat X, click the Options flyout of the Tools Panel and show the Print Production, then choose Preflight from the panel
    Image of the Acrobat X panel and where to pull down the Print Production panel.
    In Acrobat 9, choose Advanced> Preflight
  4. Click the Show All button and choose PDF/A Compliance from the list:
  5. Choose_ PDF/A-1b_ from the list and click the Analyze and fix button.
    Converting the document to PDF/A-1b