What is a PDF/VT file and how do I open, view and edit one?

You may use PDF files on a regular basis, whether it be for work, school or leisure. But you might not be as familiar with PDF/VT files. In this guide we’ll teach you everything you need to know about PDF/VT files. We’ll cover what a PDF/VT file is, how to open one and the advantages of using them. 

What you’ll learn.





What is a PDF/VT file?


A PDF/VT file is a type of PDF file. It has the same icon and the same extension as any other PDF file. However, it’s a variation of the PDF file format that is specifically designed to support variable data printing (VDP) in various environments.


What does PDF/VT stand for?


PDF/VT stands for ‘PDF for Variable and Transactional Printing’. The standard is built on PDF/X and specifies the optimal way to create a PDF file for variable data printing - a form of digital printing where all the pages are related but elements of each one could vary. It enables users to change certain parts - such as the text and graphics - from one document to the next, without slowing down the printing process.



History of the PDF/VT file.


The International Organisation for Standardisation published PDF/VT (ISO 16612-2) as the international standard for variable data and transactional printing in 2010. The previous standard (ISO 16612-1) specified the PPML/ VDX (2005) formats based on PDF 1.4 but was missing several features.


The PDF/VT-1 and PDF/VT-2 formats are based on PDF/X4 (ISO 15930-7) and PDF/X5 (ISO 15930-8), two existing PDF standards for print job exchange. They therefore support PDF 1.6 features such as transparency, layout and ICC-based colour management. PDF/VT-3 (ISO16612-3) uses PDF Version 2.0, as restricted by PDF/X-6. The PDF/VT standard also meets the criteria for personalised printing.

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What is PDF/VT used for?


Variable data printing.


With variable data printing, almost every aspect of a printed document can be tailored to meet individual needs and requirements. This method is commonly used in marketing campaigns to personalise the customer experience. For example, VDP means users can receive offers and messages that are relevant and specific to them.


Transactional printing.


Transactional printing is usually used to record a transaction or purchase. It enables users to include a large amount of personalised information in a document. For example, transactional printing may be used by financial services and utility sectors to produce bills, invoices and bank statements for customers. 


Discover more PDF document file types.



Advantages of PDF/VT files.


  • Customised documents. The PDF/VT file format enables users to create customised documents. This can be particularly beneficial for businesses and organisations looking to increase customer sales and loyalty.
  • Capable of VDP in a variety of environments. The PDF/VT format is designed for VDP in a range of environments, from desktop printing to digital production machines.
    Enables predictable colour for VDP jobs. PDF/VT enables predictable colour for VDP jobs, based on modern ICC colour management. This ensures that the colours from the document will translate accurately into print.
  • Access for all. PDF/VT files can be viewed by anyone, making it easy for documents to be approved.




How to open a PDF/VT file.


A PDF/VT file works in the same way as a standard PDF file. You can open a PDF/VT file in Adobe Acrobat and Adobe Acrobat Reader.


To open a PDF/VT file in Adobe Acrobat either double click the file or alternatively:

  1. Right click the PDF/VT
  2. Choose ‘Open With’
  3. Select ‘Adobe Acrobat Reader DC’ or ‘Adobe Acrobat DC’ from the list of programmes
  4. Click open.



How to create and edit a PDF/VT file.


A PDF/VT file can be created and edited in much the same way as a standard PDF file using applications specifically designed for variable data printing.


The documents can then be printed using software such as Adobe PDF Print Engine which renders PDF job content. It converts graphics, text and images to rasters for driving digital presses, wide-format printers, label printers and plate setters.



Learn more about similar file types to PDF/VT.



Learn more about the standard format for creating PDF-based engineering documents.



Find out more about the standard format for archiving electronic documents in the PDF format. 



Discover everything you need to know about the subset of the PDF ISO standard used to facilitate graphics exchange. 



Learn more about the standard that defines specifications for content, readers and assistive technology.  


Want to know where life started for the PDF? Read our article on the history of this iconic file format.

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What are the different PDF formats?


Before working with PDF files, it’s important to know which PDF you’re dealing with. PDF formats can be categorised into different types. There are eight different types of PDF, these include; 


  • PDF
  • PDF/A
  • PDF/E
  • PDF/X
  • PDF/VT
  • PDF/UA
  • PAdEs
  • PDF Healthcare


What does PDF stand for?


PDF stands for Portable Document Format. The PDF is a versatile format created by Adobe that gives people an easy way to create and share documents. The PDF format is also open standard, meaning it can be opened and accessed without constraints. 


What is the difference between PDF/VT-1 and PDF/VT-2?


Both PDF/VT-1 and PDF/VT-2 are based on standards published by the International Standards Organisation. However, the main difference between the two is that PD/VT-1 is designed for single-file exchange and is based on PDF/X-4. PDF/VT-2, on the other hand, is designed for multifile exchange and is based on PDF/X-4p, PDF/X-5g or PDF/X-5pg. A third format - PDF/VT-3 - was published in 2020 and uses PDF Version 2.0, as restricted by PDF/X-6. 



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