What is PDF/A? Why It’s Important and How To Use It

Technology is always evolving—what may seem cutting edge now could very well be obsolete in just a few years. With change happening so quickly, doing what you can to preserve the integrity of your important documents, be they for business or personal use, will save you a tremendous headache in the future. That’s where PDF/A really saves the day!

So what exactly is PDF/A? It’s a format that ensures a document can be reproduced exactly the same way, regardless of what software is used. Basically, all of the information necessary for displaying the document in the same manner is embedded in the file—leaving your documents safe, accessible, and secure for the long term.

We introduced the PDF/A create tool with the launch of Nitro Pro 10. This tool  (located under the Home tab) will allow you to save documents in a PDF/A compliant format quickly and easily.


The tool gives the user three options of compliance: PDF/A-1b, PDF/A-2b and PDF/A-2u.

Each option provides varying levels of conformance, which facilitate the preservation of various items in your digital file and supports such things as effects and layers. For additional information on what each level of compliance covers, learn more here.

Ok, so now that you know where the tool is and what it does, how do you use it and how does Nitro recognize these files?

First, identify the file or files you wish to turn into a PDF/A compliant document and open it in Nitro Pro.


Select the “To PDF/A” tool from the Convert section of the home tab, and then choose which level of compliance you would like to apply.

Our sample document contains images, including signatures, so I’ve chosen to save it as a “PDF/A-2b” file. This option will ensure long-term visual preservation, which is crucial for signed documents.


After selecting the “PDF/A-2b” option, it’s time to choose where to save the file.


Once saved, the conversion will process and you will receive a message confirming your file is now in the PDF/A format.


Select OK, and a message will appear on the information bar alerting you that the file claims compliance PDF/A standards.


And just like that, you’re done! Preserving your documents has never been easier—so do yourself a favor and chuck that file cabinet once and for all.

Need to save your documents in PDF/A format? Download a free trial of Nitro Pro and get free access to our PDF/A conversion tool for two weeks!