My university requires submitted PDF files to be in PDF/A format.
I tried to find a converter, but they are all very expensive and/or complicated.
How do I convert my existing PDF file into a PDF/A?
Thank you very much!
For saving existing Word documents to PDF/A all you need is a recent version of Microsoft Word. For creating from other products that print you can use a free PDF/A creator like the one at www.freepdfcreator.org
If you need to validate that a PDF/A file is compliant, you can use our free service at www.validatepdfa.com
Converting existing PDF files to PDF/A in a lossless way is a bit more tricky and not always possible. Acrobat 9 and 10 can do this. Our business, Solid Documents, also sells a product that does this (and other common archiving functions) for $99: Solid PDF Tools
There are a lot of PDFs out there which claim to be PDF/A, but fail a real smoke test. That claim is just a tag in the file's metadata. That tag can make f.e. Acrobat Reader display a special hint when rendering it.
A check for real compliancy requires some rather expansive commercial "preflight" software. Currently I'm not aware of any Free utility to do that job. See also here for some test results: Isartor testsuite
You can use Ghostscript to (try to) convert PDF to PDF/A. How to do this is documented here.
But note: this document was updated only very recently [*]. Previous versions of Ghostscript's Ps2pdf.htm did mis-lead users to run a command that created PDFs claiming to be PDF/A but which failed real smoke tests.
How to convert PDF to PDF/A with Ghostscript:
Here is a commandline:
[*] Note: The problem lays with the parameter
Microsoft Office 2007's 'Save as PDF' tool saves in PDF/A format.
A PDF/A document is just a PDF document that uses a specific subset of PDF that is designed to ensure it is 'self-contained'. Ie it is not permitted to be reliant on information from external sources (e.g. font programs and hyperlinks). From wikipedia:
Since there aren't really any tools to test if a PDF is PDF/A, it's a safe bet that just like you, your university also has no way to test that the document you send them is PDF/A.
It's likely that the only reason they specifically request it is so they can be sure that all the content will be "there" when they open it. They just expressed this requirement rather cryptically (And badly) as being that it had to be PDF/A. So a simple way to test if the PDF meet their true requirement of self-containment is to transfer the PDF and view it form another (preferably offline) computer and ensure that everything appears as it should.