At the ILTA show recently, there was a steady stream of customers who had received some panicked emails from the attorneys they support. "What’s PDF/A?", they asked, " . . . and why are Federal Courts requiring us to file in this format?"
I was forwarded an email from the Northern District of New York Bar which explains their concern:
The Administrative Office of the U.S. Courts has advised us of a prospective change to the technical filing standard associated with our Case Management / Electronic Case Files (CM/ECF) system. Since its inception, the system has required that electronic documents be filed in portable document format (PDF). Now, a move to the new more-controlled PDF/A standard is necessary to enhance CM/ECF security and to improve the archiving and preservation of case-related documents.
PDF/A— PDF for Archiving— is an ISO standard for the long term archiving of documents.
If you or your firm does any federal work, this new requirement for filing in PDF/A will significantly affect how you create and work with PDF documents.
In this article I will discuss the following:
- Links to Background Information on PDF/A
- Understanding PDF/A View Mode in Acrobat
- Using Acrobat 9′s Standards Panel
- Converting an Existing PDF to PDF/A
- Authoring changes needed for filing in PDF/A
- Steps you should take now in anticipation of the new requirement
- Deploying PDF Settings for large law firms
I urge firms to act now to understand the impact the PDF/a will have on their workflows.
Law firms that file the United States Patent and Trademarks Office (USPTO) need to heed the agency’s specific requirements for PDF generation.
The USPTO PDF specification does not allow PDFs to contain:
- Images (including entire scanned pages) above 300 DPI resolution
- Security of any kind
- Embedded multimedia (e.g. sounds or movies)
TIP: The PDF Optimizer in Acrobat 8 Professional can ensure compliance with these restrictions. Images may be downsampled, layers flattened and security, links and multimedia elements removed. The PDF Optimizer may be accessed using the Batch Processing facility, too!
Many federal agencies have long relied upon PDF because of Acrobat’s ability to faithfully render all aspects of printed pages including layout, tables, images and fonts (typefaces).
The USPTO requires that PDF must be:
- Acrobat 4 (PDF 1.3) or higher
(See note at end of article)
- No larger than 8.5” by 11” or A4 page size
- Have all fonts embedded and subset
The last item—fonts—is a critical aspect of displaying documents.
Acrobat offers three font choices that balance file size versus view fidelity:
- Fonts Substitution
Acrobat renders—on the fly—a “faux font” representation using typeface information included in the PDF.
- Fonts Embedding
All typefaces necessary to render a font are embedded in the file.
- Fonts Subsetting
Only the typeface characters necessary to render the file are embedded. Typefaces may have thousands of characters. Only embedding the actual characters used can reduce file size.
While Font Substitution keeps file sizes small, it can be problematic for submissions as non-standard fonts and specialized math symbols may not render faithfully for reviewers.
Font Embedding places a copy of the entire typeface in the PDF document.
Font Subsetting balances file size and faithful display because it renders all the characters in a document accurately while keeping file size to a minimum.
Unfortunately, the “Standard” conversion setting in Acrobat does not embed the most common office fonts. These fonts such as Arial and Times Roman are normally installed as part of the operating system.
A recommended best practice is to create a new PDF Conversion setting and employ it for creating all PDFs when filing with the USPTO.
Read on to learn how . . .
CAD— Computer Aided Design— files are sometimes produced as a result of electronic data discovery.
Disputes between clients, contractors, builders, architects, engineering firms and suppliers are often the source of these requests.
Autodesk AutoCad is the most popular CAD application used by Architectural, Engineering and Construction (AEC) firms.
AutoCad’s binary file format is the DWG format. Other CAD applications may also open or save DWG.
You may find yourself one day with a CD full of DWG files.
What should you do with them?
A variety of DWG viewers are available. However, many firms do not wish to install and train paralegals and attorneys on how to use these applications. Many firms prefer to review CAD files in one of the document formats they normally use such as TIFF or PDF.
PDF is a better choice than TIFF for reviewing CAD drawings:
- Layers Retained
The ability to layers on/off allows reviewers to more easily find problems and issues. TIFFs are single layer.
- Smaller File Size
I did a test on a 2-sheet B-sized CAD drawing:
- 5.75 MB TIFF
- 270K PDF (22 X smaller)
- Symbols Retained, Fully Searchable
CAD files may use non-standard fonts and symbols which do not OCR accurately from TIFFs.
- Cleaner, More Accurate Review on Screen
CAD objects converted to PDF remain as vector objects. This allows the reviewer to zoom in with no loss of quality. TIFF files are bitmaps and degrade at high resolution.
Fortunately, Acrobat 8 and 9 Professional can convert AutoCad files to compact, searchable PDFs complete with layers.
You don’t have AutoCad installed on your computer to complete the conversion.
Read on to learn how … I will also cover a couple of tips for working with large format files.
A few months ago I attended the semi-annual conference of the Society for the Technical Advancement in Reporting (STAR). STAR is made up of owners/operators of court reporting agencies and others interested in using technology in court reporting.
Depo (deposition) transcripts are taken by stenographers and output as plain text files. The output format is referred to as Page File ASCII and employs page breaks to approximate the printed page. Maintaining pagination is important because the page and line numbers are inserted into the ASCII file itself. Unfortunately, Acrobat’s default settings don’t respect pagination of text files.
Fortunately, there is a relatively easy— although none too intuitive— workaround.