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PDF Guidelines V2.0

Building a

Better PDF

The PDF Guidelines for Construction


Purpose & Use of the Guidelines

Since 2013, a grassroots effort has been underway to develop Guidelines for Construction PDF Documents. The Portable Document Format (PDF) joined the International Standards Organization (ISO) in 2008 after it was relinquished by Adobe (See ISO 32000-1). 

PDF documents remain the de facto standard for electronic file sharing between  DBIO professionals. However, not all PDFs are created equal. These guidelines aim  to leverage crowd-sourced answers to the real-world challenges faced by DBIO professionals. 
Each sub-section represents a shared pain point between DBIO professionals that should be addressed as a project team.  Not all projects will face the same challenges, but it’s likely your project is suffering from at least one.  Sub-section topics are broken down into the following categories for the project team to discuss collaboratively.

This guideline does not replace any existing Computer Aided Design (CAD) or Building Information Modeling (BIM) standards. It should remain a living reference document to the existing open-source standards we support.

Future CPC guidelines and reports will continue to follow the four phase delivery framework to help all perspectives learn to speak intelligently about their perspective in order to decide company and project level data standards which align with higher level industry standards.

Help Us Improve the Guidelines



  • What's not working?

  • Who does it impact?



  • What needs to change?

  • What are the barriers?



  • What standards exist?

  • Any DBIO specific preferences?



  • What is the process to meet the new standard?


  • What technology is available to support the new process?

The PDF Guidelines for Construction should remain a living document that is periodically updated by another cross-section of subject matter experts representing DBIO and technology perspectives.  We encourage you to leave any comments, best practices, or feedback about the current draft version of v2.0 via Bluebeam Studio or Google Docs.




Section 1: PDF Document Consistency

1.1 Sheet Naming Convention

1.2 Sheet Size & Plot Location

1.3 Metadata

1.4 PDF Markup Colors

Section 2: PDF Document Quality

2.1 TrueType Font

2.2 Cross-Hatching & Fill Pattern

2.3 Raster vs. Vector Content

2.4 PDF Export Settings


Section 3: PDF Document Collaboration

3.1 Permit Review Process

3.2 Design Submittal Review

3.3 Request for Information

3.4 Jobsite Document Access & Version Management

3.5 Operations Handover

3.6 3D PDF Development


A: Glossary

B: Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

C: Project Team Decision Worksheet

D: Best Practices & Lessons Learned

E: Comments/Feedback/Requests


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