International Standard Provides a Method to Describe the Final Appearance of a Printed Product

Reston, VAThe International Organization for Standardization (ISO) has announced the publication of ISO 21812-1, Graphic technology — Print product metadata for PDF files — Part 1: Architecture and core requirements for metadata. The Association for PRINT Technologies (APTech) administers the ISO Technical Committee 130 working group (TC130/WG2) that developed this international standard.

PDF files represent content pages and do not normally contain information identifying the usage of these content pages in print production. Document part metadata is a simple mechanism that allows for the exchange of information regarding a set of content pages to aid the receiver of the PDF files in determining the intended use of those content pages in the final print product. By understanding the intended use of content pages, the receiver of the PDF file can make more informed decisions regarding the production process for the final print product.

“The metadata keys and values are a direct translation of XJDF product intent definitions to native PDF. This ensures that PDF files that adhere to this standard will seamlessly integrate with existing JDF and XJDF workflows,” says Dr. Rainer Prosi, chief technical officer of CIP4 and project leader for ISO 21812-1.

Several Industry groups have initiated work in the area of workflow control and print product semantics for use with document exchange using PDF. These include CIP4, Ghent Workgroup, the PDF/VT Competence Center, and ISO TC130/WG2.

This international standard is the first part of a series of international standards that define a set of metadata keys and their meanings for use in PDF files to identify printed products and their component pages, to describe their appearance and characteristics and to guide their production.

“PDF has been defined to be as device independent as possible, so that a single file can be used across a wide variety of workflows and devices and process or print correctly,” says Martin Bailey of Global Graphics, chair of the task force that developed ISO 21812-1, “but there are cases, especially in print-centric workflows, where the creator would like to provide information about their intentions and expectations. That might include media selections, identifying which pages in a file are for the cover, or pointing out that a single PDF page represents a side of a sheet that will become a gatefold. The Print Metadata standard provides the ability to embed that information in a file in a standardized way, so that prepress and digital print workflows can either use it automatically, or present it to an operator to ensure that the job is printed and finished as intended.”

ISO 21812-1 is available for purchase from APTech and ISO member national organizations. For more information visit the Standards Workroom on the APTech website or contact Debbie Orf,, Senior Director, ICC and Standards, if you have an interest in participating in ISO/TC130.

Association for PRINT Technologies (APTech)
The Association for PRINT Technologies provides a forum to inspire the development of new and valuable print products. We educate, provide market research, and foster collaboration between those who create and those who imagine. We are the industry association entirely focused on the future of print. Our members are the creative minds that love to innovate, and the leaders who stand ready to create the future. We exist to facilitate the evolution of physical experiences in our increasingly digital world. For complete information about the Association, its programs, and its member companies, visit: or phone: 703/264-7200.

About CIP4

CIP4 brings together vendors, consultants, and end-users in the print communications, graphic arts industry, and associated sectors, covering a variety of equipment, software, peripherals, and processes. Members participate in focused working groups to define the Job Definition Format (JDF and XJDF), PrintTalk, and other standards relevant to process automation; to study user requirements; to test product interoperability; and to develop a range of JDF software development tools as well as educational resources. Information on CIP4, including membership details, is available from the organization’s website:

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