Acumen Training

Support Engineers’ PDF
(2 days, hands-on)
Printable course description (PDF)

A short course in PDF File Structure

Support Engineers’ PDF is a two-day, hands-on, technical introduction to the PDF file format. It discusses the basics of the structure and contents of a PDF file, emphasizing those parts of the PDF specification most important to printed documents. The course is a good, quick introduction to PDF structure for people who need to examine and diagnose troublesome PDF files.

Note that this is a class in the PDF file structure, not the use of Adobe Acrobat. The course does examine some commercial tools that are useful in the diagnosis of PDF problems.

Students are encouraged to bring their own samples of troubled PDF for examination in class.


Students will leave class knowing how to examine and interpret PDF files and diagnose PDF problems.


A good technical background. Programming experience will be helpful, though not necessary.


Printer field support engineers and other support personnel who need a familiarity with PDF file structure.

Course Outline

Day 1

  • PDF Characteristics & Sources
  • Data Types
  • Objects
  • File format (Header, xref, Trailer
  • The Page Tree
  • Content Streams
  • Simple Drawing
  • Introduction to Color
  • Drawing Text
  • Font Dictionaries & Resources
  • Coordinate Transforms
  • Compression and Transmission Filters

Day 2

  • Color and Color Spaces
  • Image XObjects
  • Transparency
  • Font Structure
  • XREF Streams
  • Acrobat Structure Browser
  • Examination of Common PDF Files
  • Things to Watch For (recognizing external references, rendering parameters, etc.)
  • PDF/X, PDF/A, and PDF/VT
  • PDF Troubleshooting Tools

Pricing & Availability

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

Class Locations

Register for class

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