Acumen Training

PDF 1: File Contents and Structure
(4 days, hands-on)
Printable course description (PDF)

A course in interpreting and creating PDF files

PDF 1: File Content & Structure is a four-day, hands-on, technical introduction to PDF file format and structure. It discusses in detail the structure and contents of a PDF file. The class emphasizes those parts of the PDF specification most important to printer engineers and support personel. It will also be an important introduction for software engineers who will be directly generating PDF.


Students will leave class knowing how to interpret the contents of a PDF file. Printer engineers will know what their printing devices must pay attention to when printing PDF files directly. Software engineers will be able to generate PDF files from within their own software.


A good technical background, including experience with a professional programming language. PostScript experience (the PostScript Foundations course or its equivalent) will be very helpful, since PostScript and PDF share an imaging model and have many concepts in common.


Engineers and advanced support personnel who need to understand the PDF file format. The course assumes you are either working with a printing device that consumes PDF or that you are a software engineer faced with generating PDF.

Course Outline

Day 1

  • PDF Data Types
  • PDF Objects
  • PDF file format
  • The Page Tree
  • Content streams
  • Simple drawing
  • Introduction to PDF color
  • Drawing text
  • Coordinate transforms
  • Transforming text

Day 2

  • Text rendering modes
  • Text parameter operators
  • Graphics state stack
  • Bezier Curves
  • Clippng paths
  • Filters
  • Color & Color Spaces

Day 3

  • Color and color spaces, cont'd
  • Introduction to function dictionaries
  • Image XObjects
  • Form XObjects
  • Transparency

Day 4

  • Annotations
  • PDF font structure
  • Character encoding
  • Embedding fonts
  • Type 3 fonts
  • Multibyte fonts
  • PDF standards: PDF/X, PDF/A, etc.

Pricing & Availability

See class schedule for a list of locations, dates and class cost.

Class Locations

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