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What is Metadata in PDF?
What is Metadata in PDF?

What is Metadata in PDF?

by Alexa Davis
Dec 26, 2023

Are you curious about what is metadata in PDF? Often overlooked but immensely powerful, metadata carries a wealth of information about the document.

In this article, we will explain what metadata is, why it's important, and how you can use it to get information about your documents. So, if you’re looking to learn more about metadata in PDFs, you’ve come to the right place!

What is metadata in PDF?

PDF metadata is information about a PDF document that is not visible when you open or edit PDF.

It includes details such as the author, title, and subject of the document, as well as other details like the date it was created, when and who modified it last, and how many times it has been viewed.

This information is embedded into the document itself and can be accessed with a PDF metadata viewer. This function is often included in PDF editing programs.

Metadata in PDF is especially useful for people who need to store and manage large amounts of digital documents, for example:

  • Students using PDFs for research;
  • Businesses archiving documents;
  • Writers working with publishers;
  • Digital marketers creating content;
  • IT professionals managing networks;
  • Anyone who works with PDFs on a daily basis.

By understanding metadata in PDF, you can easily find and use the information you need, ensuring accuracy and efficiency in your work.

How to add and edit PDF metadata?

Now that you know what is metadata in PDF and how to view it, you may need to edit it.

Editing metadata in PDF is essential for ensuring proper document attribution, and improving SEO. Metadata includes information such as author name, title, keywords, security settings, and more.

If you need to change PDF metadata, the easiest way is to use PDF Candy.

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Open the online PDF metadata editor.
  2. Upload the PDF you want to edit using the "Add file" button.
  3. Enter the new metadata in the corresponding fields. You have the following six options: Author, Title, Subject, Keywords, Created on, and Modified on.
  4. Click "Apply changes" to save new metadata and then "Download file" to export it to your device.

How to edit PDF metadata online

How metadata is stored in PDF documents?

Metadata in PDF documents is stored within the file in a structured format. It allows for the inclusion of various types of information related to the document.

1. Metadata properties

The first place to look for metadata is PDF properties. This section is easily accessible from the most popular PDF readers. It contains basic information like:

  • Title. The name of the document.
  • Author. The name of the creator or author.
  • Subject. A brief description or topic of the document.
  • Keywords. Keywords or phrases associated with the content.
  • Creator. The software used to create the PDF.
  • Producer. The application used to convert the original document to PDF.
  • Creation date. The date and time when the document was created.
  • Modification date. When the file was last modified.

PDF properties

2. XMP metadata

In addition to this basic information, PDF files can also contain custom metadata fields that provide more specific information about the document.

This could include notes about the contents of the file, links to related documents, or even tag words that describe the document’s content.

To access this data, you may need a specialized program that can read and interpret the underlying XML-based metadata structure of the PDF file.

3. Embedded attachments

Finally, embedded objects in a PDF file can also contain their own metadata fields. For example, if an image is embedded in a PDF file, it will usually have its own set of metadata fields. The information can contain its resolution, color space, and more.

In order to view this data you will need to use a program that can interpret these embedded objects.

How to view PDF metadata

If you want to view a PDF file's metadata, the simplest way is to use specialized free desktop programs or online services.

  • Desktop programs like Adobe Acrobat Reader, Foxit Reader, and PDF Xchange Viewer allow users to easily view PDF metadata from within their interface. To view the metadata in these programs, simply open the PDF file and look for the "Document Properties" section.
  • Online services like Smallpdf, Sejda, and PDFescape are also available for viewing PDF metadata. These services offer an easy-to-use web interface that allows users to upload their PDF files and view their metadata.

No matter which method you choose, viewing PDF metadata is a straightforward process that doesn't require any technical knowledge. With these helpful tools, anyone can quickly view the hidden data contained in the PDF files.

What are PDF metadata standards?

PDF metadata standards are a set of specifications that define how information about documents can be stored within the PDF file.

The key standard for PDF metadata is the Extensible Metadata Platform. It was developed by Adobe Systems and is now an ISO standard (ISO 16684-1:2012).

Other popular standards are:

  • Dublin Core Metadata Initiative (DCMI). It is a simple and standardized set of elements for describing resources, and it includes 15 core metadata elements. While not specific to PDF, Dublin Core elements can be used within PDF files to provide basic metadata information.
  • PDF/A (ISO 19005). It is an ISO-standardized version of PDF specifically designed for the long-term preservation of electronic documents. This standard ensures that the information is preserved over time.
  • Adobe PDF Specification. Adobe provides specifications for the PDF format, including guidelines for embedding metadata. This specification outlines the structure and elements that can be used to include metadata within a PDF file.
  • PDF/X. This subset of the PDF format is designed for the printing and graphics industry. While it focuses on print-related issues, it also includes guidelines for document metadata.

When creating or working with PDF documents, it's essential to adhere to these standards to ensure consistency, interoperability, and long-term accessibility of the information contained within the files.

This also makes it easy for applications to search and categorize documents based on the metadata stored within them.

By following metadata standards, organizations can ensure that their document management systems are consistent and efficient. Additionally, they can make sure that their documents are accurately cataloged and easily retrieved when needed.

What is metadata in PDF - Conclusion

In conclusion, metadata in PDF is an important yet often overlooked element of digital documents. Now you know what is metadata in PDF, how to view it, and how to edit it with a PDF metadata editor. You can ensure that your files are properly organized and easily searchable.

With the right tools and knowledge, you can use metadata to make sure that your documents are up-to-date and efficient. With this knowledge, you can become a more productive user of PDF documents.

Do not forget to check out other PDF tools:

  • Compress PDF - to reduce the file size and optimize PDF documents.
  • Split PDF - to split a large document into smaller files.
  • Protect PDF - to add passwords and secure your documents with encryption algorithms.
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