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Clerks of Court Electronic Retention Moving from TIFF to PDF/A

The federal court system has used the PDF standard since 1995 for the submission and retention of federal court filings. They have recognized the importance of moving to the PDF/A standard to ensure long-term archiving. The State of Florida has also adopted the PDF/A standard for its statewide court record repository. This standard is becoming more widely adopted across industries because it builds off the benefits of using the PDF format. As “born digital” (i.e., created by a text editor) documents become more prevalent, the advantages of PDF/A multiply. PDF/A documents retain original intelligence and are searchable. Many other features are retained throughout the history of the document such as links, annotations, and digital signatures. The PDF/A standard yields the exact visual display (i.e., image) of the document. There are no errors in content such as those created by a poorly scanned document. The ability to search the content of the document (also known as searchability) is reliable; content generated for a scanned document using Optical Character Recognition (OCR) may include inaccuracies. By design, the contents of a PDF/A document are locked as “read only.” The document identity can also be locked and verified using technology that would invalidate the document if the slightest change is made. Design tools, such as the Adobe Software Development Kit (SDK) toolset, are available to allow, track, and validate changes to a document during an authorized document workflow process. The PDF/A standard will minimize unauthorized changes to a document. All of these capabilities optimize the integrity of the document throughout its life.

Many clerks of court store documents in the TIFF format, which is basically a picture of the document. That format does not allow documents to be searched.

If you need to change your scanning system from TIFF to PDF/A, Micrographics can help. We can install the appropriate drivers to your current system, ensure you have the correct versions of Adobe Acrobat to ensure searchability and evaluate your overall scanning system.

Also, if you would like to convert files previously saved to TIFF format to PDF/A, Micrographics has the technology and expertise to make those conversions for you.

If you have any question, please contact us at

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