I need to create PDF/A conform files of technical drawings with Adobe Illustrator.

Are there any presets for saving PDF/A files? Or do I need Adobe Acrobat Pro for this?

2 Answers 2


It's not possible to generate PDF/A files directly in Illustrator, Photoshop, or InDesign (as of CS6), only in Acrobat Pro version 8.0 or newer, and Acrobat Distiller which comes with Acobat Pro. However, I believe there is a commercially sold Illustrator plug-in available, and other stand-alone conversion software.

Otherwise you open the AI file in Acrobat Pro and use the Preflight feature to generate a separate PDF/A-compliant file from it.

An alternative workflow might be the 'old-school' postscript export from Illustrator to Acrobat Distiller. Distiller has the PDF/A-1b profiles for CMYK and RGB. This also allows for automated PDF generation with Distiller lurking in the background: You save a postscript file from Illustrator (via the Print dialog, set Printer to 'Adobe PostScript File', and PPD to 'Adobe PDF 9.0') into a specific folder that Distiller is set to 'watch' and to automatically convert PDFs from PS files in there...

PDF/A is promoted by the 'PDF Association' based in Germany. A brochure with more details on the use of Acrobat Pro can be downloaded from their website: PDF/A in a Nutshell (2011) http://www.pdfa.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/08/PDFA-in-a-Nutshell_1b.pdf


Create an Adobe PDF Choose File > Save As or File > Save A Copy.

Type a filename, and choose a location for the file.

Choose Adobe PDF (*.PDF) as the file format, and click Save.

Either choose a preset from the Adobe PDF Preset menu, or select a category from the list on the left of the dialog box and then customize the options.

Click Save PDF.

The presets include the PDF/A selection.

Source: http://help.adobe.com/en_US/illustrator/cs/using/WS714a382cdf7d304e7e07d0100196cbc5f-654fa.html#WSF9A0BDC8-7767-452b-B9EA-23EB3644C6B9a

  • 1
    Nah, PDF/A presets don't exist in Illustrator (CS6), only in Acrobat Pro.
    – TehMacDawg
    Jan 20, 2014 at 13:10
  • They do in my Illustrator CS6. And they do in the official manual I quoted and linked to. Can you elaborate on your "nah" any further?
    – KMSTR
    Jan 20, 2014 at 14:07
  • 1
    Are you possibly confusing this with PDF/X-1a etc.? Even the online help you link to says: "PDF/A-1b: 2005 (CMYK and RGB) (Acrobat only) Used for long-term preservation (archival) of electronic documents. PDF/A‑1b uses PDF 1.4 and converts all colors to either CMYK or RGB, depending on which standard you choose. These PDFs can be opened in Acrobat and Reader versions 5.0 and later."
    – TehMacDawg
    Jan 20, 2014 at 14:12

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