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Draft PDF Web Standards

Describes CDE’s requirements for PDF documents. This document is part of the CDE Web Standards.

Introduction

This section of the California Department of Education (CDE) Web Standards provides requirements for PDF files that are developed, procured, maintained, or used under its responsibility.

This section is one part of the CDE Web Standards.  For any given web content, one or more parts of the CDE Web Standards may be applicable. Visit the CDE Web Standards Home page for more information.

Note that there is wide variance in the resources that may be required to make PDF documents compliant with this section of the CDE's Web Standards. Factors that affect the resources that may be required are: 1) the complexity of the content, formatting, and layout; 2) the experience and training (in PDF creation and accessibility) of those who are preparing the PDF document; 3) the source--whether the PDF was created by conversion, printing to PDF, or via scanning a paper document; and 4) for software conversions to PDF, the extent to which the source software can create accessible documents.

In order to minimize the resources and experience required to make a PDF compliant, it is highly recommended to start with a fully accessible document that was created in Microsoft Word. Converting from other software, especially desktop publishing software (e.g., Adobe InDesign or Microsoft Publisher) can greatly increase the resources required to make a PDF conform to these standards.

Requirements for All PDF Documents

PDF documents that CDE develops, maintains, procures, or uses must meet all of the standards in this sub-section without regard to how or where the PDF document is made available on the web. Sub-sections that follow add additional requirements in specific circumstances.

[PDF-101] Section 508 and WCAG 2.0 at the AA level

PDF documents must comply with federal Section 508 and conform to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 at the AA level. Whenever the standards that follow are not adequate for achieving compliance with federal Section 508 and conformance to WCAG 2.0 at AA, the PDF document either needs to be modified to bring it into compliance/conformance or it cannot be used.

[Resources: Federal Section 508 External link opens in new window or tab. , WCAG 2.0 External link opens in new window or tab. ]

See also the Accessibility Section of these CDE Web Standards.

[Supports: California State Information Management Manual Section 25 External link opens in new window or tab., California Government Code Section 7405 External link opens in new window or tab., and Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 External link opens in new window or tab.]

[PDF-102] PDF Features and Styles

Ensure that the PDF document correctly uses all applicable PDF features and styles.

  1. Ensure that the correct tags have been applied to all content in the PDF document.

    [Resources:
  2. Set the document open settings and security so that it does not interfere with assistive technology.

    [Resources:
  1. When a table of contents is used, ensure it is functional and uses correct Acrobat tags.

    [Resources:
  2. Correctly use bookmarks in documents 10 pages in length or more.

    [Resources:
  1. Running headers and footers are used for text that repeats on every or every other page. However, content that is only contained in the header or footer must be present in at least one place outside of the header or footer.

    [Resources:
  1. Set the default language.

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  2. Specify the language for a passage or phrase when it is different from the primary language.

    [Resources:
  1. Use List tags for list elements.

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  2. When footnotes are present, use the correct tags.

    [Resources:
  3. PDF portfolios may be used when saved as a .pdf and as long as they only contain PDF files that are compatible with these standards.

See PDF-110 for specific requirements for use of headings in PDF documents.

[Supports WCAG 2.0 sections 1.3.1 (Info and Relationships) External link opens in new window or tab. , 2.4.5 (Multiple Ways) External link opens in new window or tab., 3.1.1 (Language of Page) External link opens in new window or tab. , 3.1.2 (Language of Parts) External link opens in new window or tab. , and 3.2.3 (Consistent Navigation) External link opens in new window or tab.]

[PDF-103] Layout, Organization, and Required Elements
  1. Document must be saved as a .pdf format file.

  2. Don't use spaces, tabs, or line breaks to create layout.

  3. The PDF document is navigable in the expected order when used with a keyboard only and the content reads in the correct order.

    [Resources:
  4. All Track Changes, comments, and annotations have been removed.

    [Resources:
  5. Save PDF documents so they open in a consistent and predictable manner. Save so they open:
    1. At 100% size.

  6. Use page numbering that has consistency between the visible page numbers and the file page number.

    [Resources:

[Supports CDE Requirements and WCAG 2.0 sections 1.3.2 (Meaningful Sequence) External link opens in new window or tab., 2.1.1 (Keyboard) External link opens in new window or tab., and 2.4.3 (Focus Order) External link opens in new window or tab.]

[PDF-104] Text and Content
Uses Valid Text

Ensure the integrity and viability of the text content in the document. Text content is comprised of easy to read standard characters in widely available characters sets (fonts). Except for some proper nouns, the text forms standard words.

  1. All visible text renders correctly as text.
    1. Scanned documents or text may not be used unless optical character recognition (OCR) has been used and all text has been corrected to match the scanned text.
    2. Ensure that line breaks do not cause words to merge together to form misspellings.
    3. Text is not included as a picture.

      [Resources:
  2. Ensure that there are no spelling errors.

  3. No grammar errors.
Fonts
  1. Use easy to read fonts that are comparable in readability to Arial 12pt. or larger.
    1. Decorative fonts must be used sparingly, use larger font sizes, and still be relatively easy to read.

  2. Use fonts that are sized 12 points or larger and are commonly available on most devices.
    1. For example: Arial, Helvetica, Times New Roman, Times, Courier New, Courier, Verdana, Georgia, Palatino, or Garamond.
Abbreviations
  1. All but the most common abbreviations are spelled out.
    1. Very common abbreviations that do not need to be spelled out include common street address abbreviations, personal titles used before surnames, and ‘N/A’.
    2. All other abbreviations (including CDE-specific or education-specific) abbreviations must be spelled out and defined on the first use of the abbreviation (defining the abbreviation) or at the next available opportunity if there is not enough room, or else
    3. Provide definitions for abbreviations via an E entry

      [Resources:
Device-Specific Words
  1. Do not use device-specific words when there is any alternative that works.
    1. Do not use words such as "click" or "hover" when words like "select" or "navigate" are available.
Special Characters and Symbols
  1. Use appropriate special characters/symbols in place of keyboard symbols. For example, do not use:
    1. Underline with the plus sign for plus/minus (±)
    2. Asterisk (*) or letter 'x' for the multiplication sign (×)
    3. Slash for the division sign (÷) or the division slash (∕)
    4. Hyphen for the minus sign (−)
    5. Three periods in a row for the horizontal ellipsis (…)
    6. Horizontal lines or underlines to express summation or division

      Note 1: The plus sign (+) and equals sign (=) are keyboard characters that can be used for math without inserting a special character.

      Special Character Name

      Special Character Symbol

      Unicode

      Plus or minus

      ±

      U+00B1

      Division Sign
      ÷
      U+00F7
      Division Slash U+2215
      Minus Sign
      U+2212
      Multiplication Sign
      ×
      U+00D7
      Horizontal Ellipsis
      U+2026
  1. Do not use other special characters/symbols that don't have reliable mapping to Unicode.
    1. For example, do not use Wingdings font symbols, but Unicode conversions of Wingdings can be used.

      [Resource:

See PDF-109 for additional requirements when special characters or symbols are used.
See PDF-202 for additional requirements for PDF Documents authored by or on behalf of CDE staff.

[PDF-105] Metadata
  1. Has a unique metadata title (document properties) that identifies the document.

  2. Has a subject (document properties) that describes the document, its audience, purpose, or usage.

  3. Specify the document title in the information dictionary.

    [Resources:

[Resources: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services - Required Fixes for PDF Files - Document Properties are Missing External link opens in new window or tab.]

See PDF-403 for additional requirements for PDF documents posted to the primary CDE website and the CDE Intranet website.

[Supports: WCAG 2.0 Section 2.4.2 (Page Titled) External link opens in new window or tab.]

[PDF-106] Hyperlinks
  1. Links are not broken. At CDE, a broken link is defined as a link that:
    1. Does not work
    2. Returns an http 404 error
    3. Does not resolve to the indicated content

  2. Links are used consistently throughout the document.

  3. The purpose of the link can be determined from the link alone, its nearby text, or its column header (e.g., no “click here” or “more” links).

  4. When linked URLs are used, add alternative descriptive text to the link.

    [Resources:
  5. Ensure that links are annotated.

    [Resources:
  6. The same linked URL or text must lead to the same destination.

  7. Hyperlinks are easily distinguished visibly from non-linked content (e.g. color difference, underlines).

See PDF-107 to learn more about color contrast requirements in PDF documents. Color contrast requirements apply to all states of a hyperlink: unvisited, visited, hover, and active.
See PDF-305 for additional requirements for PDF documents posted to websites using the CDE domain: 'cde.ca.gov'.

[Supports: WCAG 2.0 Section 2.4.4 (Link Purpose In Context) External link opens in new window or tab.]

[PDF-107] Color
Color Contrast

Ensure sufficient color contrast between all content that conveys meaning (including all text) and its background at the WCAG 2.0 AA level.

  1. Ensure that the color difference has a contrast ratio that is at least 4.5 to 1.

    [Resources:
  2. Text that is large, which is 18pt. (or 14pt. bold or italicized) must have a color contrast ratio of at least 3 to 1.

    [Resources:
  3. For gradient backgrounds or text, measure at the combination with the least contrast to determine compliance.
When Color Alone Conveys Meaning
  1. In a chart or graphic where colors convey meaning, ensure that there is another method of conveying meaning. For example, use different types of dotted lines, fill textures, or ensure that colors map to shades that will be clearly different in gray scale (e.g., when printed in black and white).

    [Resources:
  2. Where color alone conveys meaning, equivalent text is necessary as the primary method to describe meaning.

    [Resources:

See PDF-112 for additional requirements for PDF forms or PDF documents that use form fields.
See PDF-306 for additional requirements for PDF documents posted to CDE’s Main and Intranet websites.
See PDF-501 for additional requirements for PDF documents posted to California School for the Blind websites.

[Supports: WCAG 2.0 Section 1.4.3 (Contrast Minimum) External link opens in new window or tab.]

[PDF-108] Images

Images are used with the following preconditions:

  1. Are only used with the permission of the copyright holder. This is established in one of the following ways for each image used:

    1. CDE is the copyright holder or the image is owned by or on behalf of CDE (taken, created, or purchased outright for CDE use).
    2. Explicit permission to use the image for its intended use has been obtained (free or paid).
    3. There is explicit information to show that permission is not required for the intended use.
    4. When CDE is not the copyright holder, documentation that establishes CDE's permission to use the image is retained as long as the image is used.

      Note: Searching the Internet for available pictures or via a Google image search does not establish permission for CDE to use an image.

  2. Except for stock photos where clearance has been established, permission has been obtained from a parent or guardian for all minor children that appear in the image.

  3. Appropriate permission has been obtained for all use of the Official Seal of the California Department of Education.

  4. Multilayered images must be flattened into a single image.

    [Resources:

See PDF-307 for additional requirements for web pages posted to websites using a .cde.ca.gov domain.

[Supports: CDE requirements and WCAG 2.0 Section 3.2.4 (Consistent Identification) External link opens in new window or tab.]

[PDF-109] Equivalent Text
Image Equivalent Text Methods

Informative images (e.g., with content or that convey meaning) must have an equivalent in text. Non-informative images (e.g., decorative-only) must not have equivalent text and must be hidden using the PDF Artifact tag.

[Resources:

There are three different ways to provide allowable equivalent text and each way has its own requirements:

  1. Adjacent Text
    1. The text adjacent to the image provides content that is fully equivalent to the image.
    2. If the image is not introduced in the adjacent text and the existence of the image can be ignored (because the content the image provides is fully and equivalently described in adjacent text) the image alternative text (alt text) must be blank.
    3. If the image is introduced (e.g., mentioned in the text or indicated with a title or caption), the image alternative text must provide the name of the image and indicate that it is a visual representation of adjacent text.
    4. It is unlikely that the adjacent text will be considered fully equivalent to the image if the author did not plan ahead for accessibility.

  2. Alternative Text (or Alt Text)
    1. This is text that describes the image that is added to the image in the background if it can describe the content and purpose of the image equivalently in around 15 words or less. Alternative text can never exceed 30 words.

      [Resources:
  3. Long Description
    1. A long description must be used if either the adjacent text or any alt text of no more than 30 words cannot provide fully equivalent content.
    2. Has an active hyperlink adjacent to the image with link text that names the picture and indicates the link destination is a "plain text" or "accessible" version of the picture. The link leads to the long description of the image.
    3. The image has alternative text that is used to name the picture and provide a summary (the standard of trying for 15 words or less, but no more than 30 words applies).
    4. The link may lead to another portion of the same document or a separate web page or document that has the fully equivalent text version of the content.

      [Resources:
Text in the Image
  1. When there is text in the image that is part of its meaning or content, it must be included in the adjacent text, alternative text, or long description. Also:
    1. Ensure there is sufficient contrast between the text in the image and its background.

      [Resources
    2. Ensure that the text in the image is readable.

      See PDF-104 for additional information on text that can be used within the image.
Other Required Text Equivalents

For any information that is conveyed with color, formatting, layout, or symbols, ensure that there is text method that serves the equivalent purpose.

See PDF-107 for requirements when color is used to convey meaning.

  1. Whenever possible use semantic text instead of special characters or symbols.
    1. For example, use "Yes/No" instead of "Y/N.
    2. When special characters or symbols are used (including letters as symbols), the symbols must be defined on or before their first use.
    3. The only exceptions are subscript, superscript, or asterisks when they are used for used for notes, footnotes, or endnotes don't need to be defined.

  2. Use "0", "none", or "n/a" instead of blank space that is meant to convey zero or nothing.
    1. For example, don't use a combination of 'X' (or any other symbol) and "blank" to mean applicable or included and not applicable or not included.

  3. When formatting is added to text that conveys meaning, such as strikethrough, its specific meaning in context must be described with text that serves the equivalent purpose.
    1. Short and simple instances of strikethrough and similar formatting that can be added to text can often be described equivalently by adding a note in brackets immediately after the formatted text to describe the text that received the formatting.
    2. More extensive and complex uses of strikethrough or similar formatting require indications of where the formatting begins and ends.

      [Resources:

[Supports: WCAG 2.0 sections 1.1.1 (Non-text Content) External link opens in new window or tab. and 1.3.1 (Info and Relationships) External link opens in new window or tab.]

[PDF-110] Headings

Uses PDF headings to indicate the page title and section divisions in the document.

  1. Headings are used instead of visual alterations of text.

    [Resources:
  2. Heading Level-1 is used on the first page of every document and only once for the visible page title.

    [Resources:
  3. Heading levels 2 and above are use in a hierarchical order.
    1. While heading levels may be skipped, they cannot be used out of order.
    2. Headings taken as a whole must form a logical "outline" of the document.

      [Resources:
  4. Text that is not a section heading or divider does not use heading styles.

[Supports WCAG 2.0 Section 1.3.1 (Info and Relationships) External link opens in new window or tab.]

[PDF-111] Tables
Table Use
  1. Tables are used for tabular data. Tabular data is not presented using spacing or tabs. Tables are not used for layout or formatting.

    [Resources:
  2. Use PDF table elements for table markup.

    [Resources:
Complex Tables (Table Regularity)

It may be possible to make complex tables accessible in PDF documents. However, another option is to adjust the data to create one or more simple data tables. Another term for a simple table is a table that has regularity. Simple tables have a grid structure where the contents of each cell relate directly to the column header for that cell.

  1. No blank cells, columns, or rows for simple tables.
    1. Except, the last row in a table may have blank cells if the row is being used as a totals row where one or more of the cells is used to total the data in its column; and
    2. When the last row is a totals row, "Total" or a similar word or phrase must be present in the first cell in the row.

  2. No merged or split cells for simple tables

  3. One single column header row as the first row for simple tables. All tables must have headers.

    [Resources:
  4. No intermediary sub-headers (rows used to delineate sub-sections of a table) for simple tables.

  5. No visual-only alignment of contents (e.g. indenting) and no use of layout and formatting alone to convey hierarchy for simple tables.

  6. Data cells are programmatically (not just visually) associated with the table header cells for complex tables.

    [Resources:
  7. Row headings are displayed at the top of each page for all tables.

    [Resources:
  1. Rows don’t split across pages for all tables.

    [Resources:
Alternative Text
  1. Add alternative text to tables to describe the broad nature of the table data for all tables.

    [Resources:

[Supports WCAG 2.0 Section 1.3.1 (Info and Relationships) External link opens in new window or tab.]

[PDF-112] Forms

Use PDF to make fillable forms or create an online form with software or a web application that can create a form that complies with CDE Web Standards. MS Word can and should be used to draft forms that will be converted to PDF and then will be edited to become fillable PDF forms.

  1. Areas in the document that allow for user input (or visually appear to allow for input) must be setup correctly with PDF form fields/controls.

    [Resources:

Use the appropriate form tags and tools in Adobe Acrobat Pro.

  1. Ensure that form fields are tagged and in the correct tab/reading order.

    [Resources:
  2. Ensure that each form field/control has a unique associated label.
    1. An exception is that repeated labels may be used when form fields/controls are included inside a compliant data table.

      [Resources:
  1. Include accessible validation to notify users of input errors.

    [Resources:
  2. Include an accessible means of notifying users of required form fields/controls.

    [Resources:
  3. Include a submit button if functionality is included within the PDF to submit data.

    [Resources:

[Supports: WCAG 2.0 sections 1.1.1 (Non-text Content) External link opens in new window or tab., 1.3.1 (Info and Relationships) External link opens in new window or tab., 2.1.1 (Keyboard) External link opens in new window or tab., 3.2.2 (On Input) External link opens in new window or tab., 3.3.1 (Error Identification) External link opens in new window or tab., 3.3.2 (Labels or Instructions) External link opens in new window or tab., 3.3.3 (Error Suggestion) External link opens in new window or tab., and 4.1.2 (Name, Role, Value) External link opens in new window or tab.]
[General Resources: California Department of Rehabilitation: Creating Accessible Forms in Microsoft Word and Adobe PDF External link opens in new window or tab. (DOCX)]

Additional Requirements if Developed by CDE Staff or on Behalf of CDE

When PDF documents are being developed, procured, or maintained by CDE staff, as a result of a CDE contract, or on behalf of CDE by others, the additional requirements in this sub-section apply. These additional requirements allow CDE to provide a consistent user experience across all of its PDF documents.

[PDF-201] CDE's Correspondence Guide and Style Manual

For writing usage, spelling, and grammar...

  1. Follows the CDE Correspondence Guide (CDE Intranet) for correspondence only.
    1. Relies upon the Gregg Reference Manual when the CDE Correspondence Guide does not address a usage issue.

  2. Follows the CDE Style Manual for all non-correspondence content.
    1. Relies upon the Chicago Manual of Style when the CDE Style Manual does not address a usage issue.
[CDE Requirements]
[PDF-202] Text
Underlines
  1. Underlines are not used except for hyperlinks and hyperlinked e-mail addresses.
    1. Except, underlines may be used to indicate the text of laws or regulations that are being added, modified, or deleted as prescribed by the California Office of Administrative Law.
Justified Text
  1. Don’t use justified text, (i.e., fully justified or full justification).
    1. except in flyers, newsletters, brochures and CDE Press publications.
Arial 12pt.
  1. For CDE content or CDE authored PDF documents, use Arial 12pt. font or larger. Exceptions:
    1. Content that is in a language other than English may use other fonts when necessary as long as the font size is comparable to Arial 12pt. or larger.
    2. Flyers, newsletters, brochures and CDE Press publications may use other font types as long as the fonts used are at least as large as Arial 12pt.

[CDE Requirements]

Additional Requirements for Specific Web Pages and Websites

Posted to Websites Using the CDE Domain: 'cde.ca.gov'

This includes to any web pages or website that has 'cde.ca.gov' as the base domain.1

[PDF-301] Approved Use of PDF on CDE Websites

CDE prefers to have its own websites be comprised mostly of web pages.

  1. Content that is at least 10-pages in length. (content length)

  2. Flyers, newsletters, brochures and CDE Press publications. (content type)

  3. Conversions of MS PowerPoint presentations. (Content Type)
    1. Speaker notes must be removed from the PowerPoint prior to the conversion. If speaker notes are required, the presentation must be posted as a MS PowerPoint presentation.

  4. Training manuals, software guides, and other reference documents. (content type)
    1. These would typically have tables of contents and many screenshots.

  5. Content is already in PDF from an external (non-CDE) source, the source content cannot be linked to, and it would be inappropriate or impractical to convert the content to be one or more CDE web pages. (content source)

  6. Content is already in PDF, the content is difficult or impossible to format as a web page, and the format in PDF is essential to the effectiveness of the document. (content type)

  7. Content that is required by law or by CDE policy to be in a specific format, layout, or to specifically be in PDF. (content type)

  8. When PDF is used as a secondary or tertiary format to a web page version of identical content or to another CDE-approved content type. (content type)

  9. Equipment manuals created by manufacturers or vendors.

  10. Pages linked from the Historical Documents Section of the CDE website.

  11. Non-english documents.

  12. Documents on older versions of CDE letterhead.

  13. Documents used for meetings of the California State Board of Education (SBE) or its sub-committees, including: agenda items, agenda item attachments, minutes, summaries of meetings, or summaries of actions.
    1. However, excludes agendas themselves, which must be presented as web pages.

  14. Documents related to a CDE funding opportunity and posted in the appropriate "R" folder on the primary CDE website.

[CDE Requirements]

[PDF-302] Prohibited Use on CDE Websites
  1. Correspondence content that can utilize the CDE Correspondence template for web pages, is not funding-related, and is under 10-pages. (content type)

  2. When used as a replacement to web pages.
    1. An example would be excessive cross-linking within a single PDF document or between two or more PDF documents. (content type)

[CDE Requirements]

[PDF-303] Layout, Organization, and Required Elements

Visitors to CDE websites often find documents directly via external search and then they will often download CDE documents to their computer or device. If a CDE document is found directly or is downloaded, the visitor may not have information about the origin or history of the document unless some basic information is included. The following is required to be included in all PDF documents posted to any CDE website:

  1. Content at the top of the document that constitutes the document title.
    1. Should be formatted in the document with Heading Level 1.
    2. The document title should be similar to the metadata title and to links that point to the document. However, it is not necessary that they be an exact match.
    3. When the document is a sub-section of a larger document, the title of the larger document must be included as part of the title or elsewhere in the content. For example, "Chapter 3" is not a sufficient document title on its own since it clearly implies that the document is part of something larger.

  2. Content that provides attribution of ownership/authorship.
    1. Often this means that “California Department of Education” is simply added near the title of the document if not already present in the content.
    2. If permission to use the content could be questioned, a statement indicating the manner in which permission has been granted should be included.

  3. A date of authorship or posting.
    1. When a calendar date is not available, a month and year are acceptable.
Opening View
  1. Document opens to single page view at 100% size.

See PDF-103 for specific requirements for use of headings in PDF documents.

[CDE Requirements and supports WCAG 2.0 Section 2.4.2 (Page Titled) External link opens in new window or tab.]

[PDF-304] Filename

Use the following CDE standards to create the filename:

  1. To the extent possible, relates to the document title.

  2. Does not use spaces or symbols other than hyphen ( - ).

  3. Is all lowercase.

  4. Is less than or equal to 24 characters or less.

  5. Starts with an alphabetic character.

[CDE Requirements]

[PDF-305] Hyperlinks

As noted in the Approved Use of PDF on CDE Websites Section (PDF-301), CDE prefers that most content posted to its websites be posted as web pages. It is presumed that a PDF document will be used instead of a web page for particular reasons. Among those reasons is the increased possibility that the document may be printed. For that reason, CDE prefers to comply with WCAG 2.0 at the A level and to include hyperlinked URLs in its PDF documents.

  1. Links to destinations outside of the current PDF document must use hyperlinked URLs that begin with "http://" (or "https://" if appropriate).

  2. If needed, URLs may be shortened:
    1. Those that point to the primary CDE website may use WebNETS system URLs. For example: this link to the CDE Organization web page at http://www.cde.ca.gov/418553.
    2. Those that point to other websites may use the Go.USA.gov URL shortener (government links only) or the Bitly (bit.ly) URL shortener.

[CDE Requirements and WCAG 2.0 Section 2.4.4 (Link Purpose In Context) External link opens in new window or tab.]
[General Resources: Most accessibility resources require or recommend the use of linked descriptive text rather than linked URLs for hyperlinks, which is a WCAG 2.0 AAA standard. Because CDE use of PDF is mostly for documents that are likely to be printed, CDE requires that hyperlinks use linked URLs.]

[PDF-306] Color
  1. For CDE content or CDE authored PDF documents, use a black font on a white background. Exceptions:
    1. Flyers, newsletters, brochures and CDE Press publications may use other font colors and background colors as long as the contrast between the font color and background color meets accessibility standards (see PDF-107).
    2. The color red (specifically Boston University Red, hex value #CC0000, or RGB 204, 0, 0) may be used sparingly to highlight a word, phrase, sentence, or small paragraph as a reminder, warning, or an alert.
      • In PDF, this specific shade of red can be found via the font color dialog and then selecting Other Color. Input 204, 0, 0 in the red, green, blue fields respectively.

        Acrobat font color dialog with other color button selected. Boston University Red, or RGB 204, 0, 0 is shown.

    3. Accent background color that is 15% or less in saturation may be used if the color contrast of any text or links is tested and found to meet accessibility standards (see PDF-107).
    4. Except for flyers, newsletters, brochures and CDE Press publications, URLs use the “standard hyperlink blue” (hex value #0000FF or RGB 0, 0, 255).

[CDE Requirements and WCAG 2.0 Section 1.4.3 (Contrast Minimum) External link opens in new window or tab.]

[PDF-307] Images
Image Use
  1. Use of decorative images is kept to a minimum.
    1. When used, images should primarily be used to convey information.

See PDF-108 for additional information on image use.

[CDE Requirement]

Posted Using Contribute (for www.cde.ca.gov and intranet.cde.ca.gov)

[PDF-401] Templates
  1. When a template or example is available, it is advisable to use it because using it may make it easier to comply with these CDE standards for PDF documents.
    1. Templates may be available for specific types of PDF documents.
    2. Templates for PDF may include MS Word or MS PowerPoint templates that are for documents or presentations intended to be converted to PDF.
[PDF-402] PDF Features and Styles

Nothing applicable to PDF-402 at this time.

[PDF-403] Metadata

Documents posted to CDE's primary website and its Intranet website require more specific metadata.

  1. Unique metadata title (document properties) that is descriptive of the document must use title case, be less than or equal to 50 characters (inclusive of spaces and punctuation), and only use abbreviations if they are defined in the title or if there is not enough space to spell out whole words and must adhere to the following format:
    1. For the primary CDE website (www.cde.ca.gov):

      Unique Document Title - Sub-sub-topic Name (CA Dept of Education)

    2. For the CDE Intranet website (intranet.cde.ca.gov):

      Unique Document Title - Sub-sub-topic Name (CDE Intranet)

  2. The first part of the metadata title (Unique Document Title) must be different from any other PDF document within the same sub-sub-topic (or sub-topic if applicable).

  3. Has a subject (document properties) that describes the audience, purpose, or usage of the document that uses up to 250 characters (inclusive of spaces and punctuation) to sufficiently describe the document, the subject is not a mere restatement of the title, abbreviations are only used if they are defined in the title or subject and if there is not enough space to spell out whole words, and the subject ends with a period punctuation mark.

See additional information about metadata at PDF-105.

[CDE Requirements]

[PDF-404] Headings

For documents posted to CDE's primary website and its Intranet website, there are more specific requirements for headings:

  1. Heading styles must not be combined with other formatting styles, such as hyperlinks or table headers.

[CDE Requirement]

Posted to Other Specific Websites

[PDF-501] Posted to a California School for the Blind Website
Color Contrast (AAA Level)

Ensure sufficient color contrast between all content that conveys meaning (including all text) and its background at the WCAG 2.0 AAA level.

    1. Ensure that the color difference has a contrast ratio that is at least 7 to 1.

    2. Text that is large, which is 18pt. (or 14pt. bold or italicized) must have a color contrast ratio of at least 4.5 to 1.

    3. For gradient backgrounds or text, measure at the combination with the least contrast to determine compliance.

See PDF-107 to learn more about standard and other color contrast requirements in PDF documents.

[Supports WCAG 2.0 Section 1.4.6 External link opens in new window or tab.]
[General Resources: Web Accessibility in Mind: Web Accessibility Evaluation Tool (WAVE) External link opens in new window or tab. and Color Contrast Checker External link opens in new window or tab., and World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), Understanding Conformance External link opens in new window or tab.]

Required Testing

There is no testing tool that can ensure compliance with all of the standards above. However, there are a variety of testing tools that can help and they should be used to ensure compliance and quality of PDF documents. At a minimum, the following testing is required for all CDE PDF documents.

[PDF-801] Spelling and Grammar
  1. Use the spelling/grammar checker in MS Word to check for basic and intermediate spelling and grammar errors.
    1. If the source of the PDF document is MS Word and there have been no edits to the content, this check can be done in Word prior to converting to PDF. Otherwise, export the final version of the PDF to MS Word in order to use the MS Word checker.
    2. Fix any misspelled words.
    3. Fix grammar errors and consider revising content when there are many grammar warnings.

See PDF-201 for additional CDE writing requirements for PDF documents developed by or on behalf of CDE staff.
See PDF-202 for additional text requirements for PDF documents developed by or on behalf of CDE staff.

[PDF-802] Accessibility Checker
  1. Use the Accessibility Full Check feature in Acrobat Professional.
    1. Fix all errors.

      [Resources:
[PDF-803] Broken Links
  1. Ensure that all links work and that there are no broken links.
    1. In PDF documents, this may require manual testing.
    2. CDE Contribute/WebNETS users may be able to check links in PDF documents using the Check Documents Link tool in the WebNETS system.

See PDF-106 for CDE's definition of a broken link.

[PDF-804] Reading Order
  1. Using the Reading Order tool in Adobe Acrobat Professional, manually check the reading order of every page in the PDF to ensure that it is correct. Repeated header/footer content should be removed from the reading order. Fix any issues.
[PDF-805] Color Contrast
  1. Using a color selector and a color contrast checker, manually check the color contrast of every foreground/background color combination in the document to ensure that it meets the applicable requirements in PDF-107, PDF-306, and PDF-501
[PDF-806] Text Check
  1. Save a final version of the PDF file as Text (Accessible) (*.txt) to check for text integrity and as a final check for reading order.

Additional Information and Resources

The following information and resources form other organizations may be helpful in trying to gain a more complete understanding of the accessibility-compliant and standards-based approach that CDE applies to the PDF documents that it develops, procures, maintains, and uses.

Checklists

  Any Content Distributed Directly (e.g., Email or Other File Transfer) Any Content Posted to a CDE Website (except State Special Schools or Diagnostic Centers) Any Content Posted to a State Special School or Diagnostic Center Website Any Content Posted to Another Website
Created by CDE Staff, contractors, partners, or on behalf of the CDE Checklist #1 (Coming Soon) Checklist #2 (Coming Soon) Checklist #3 (Coming Soon) Checklist #4 (Coming Soon)
Not created on behalf of CDE or by CDE Staff, contractors, or partners. Checklist #5 (Coming Soon) Checklist #6 (Coming Soon) Checklist #7 (Coming Soon) N/A

Footnotes

1 Websites using the CDE domain (cde.ca.gov) include:

  • CDE Primary Internet website (http://www.cde.ca.gov/)
  • CDE Intranet website (http://intranet.cde.ca.gov/)
  • CDE Monitoring Tool (http://cmt.cde.ca.gov/)
  • CELDT Results (http://celdt.cde.ca.gov/)
  • CAASPP (http://caaspp.cde.ca.gov/)
Questions:   Web Services Unit | tsdweb@cde.ca.gov
Last Reviewed: Monday, December 4, 2017
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