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The Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) has requirements for creating PDFs that are compliant with Section 508 and are optimized for search engine optimization.

Making Compliant PDF Files

Follow these steps to make a PDF that is optimized for accessibility and search engine optimization. These instructions are written for Adobe DC. For instructions for other versions of Acrobat, contact Shauna Fjeld.

1. Set up your copy of Adobe Acrobat.

You only need to do this once. Before you edit PDFs, you must have the correct settings turned on for your copy of Adobe Acrobat. See our page on Adobe Acrobat Settings to learn how.

EERE's PDF standards are compatible with Adobe Reader DC and previous versions.

2. Open the PDF you want to edit.

3. Add metadata.

Go to File > Properties (or push Control + D.) Fill out these fields:

  • Title: Enter the title of the file.
  • Subject: Provide a 150-160 character summary of the file's content.

See Optimizing PDFs and Native Files for Search Engines for more information.

4. Set the initial view.

Under File > Properties, go to the "Initial View" tab.

  • Navigation Tab: For PDFs with 15 or fewer pages, select "Pages Panel and Page." For PDFs with more than 15 pages, select "Bookmarks Panel and Page."
  • Page Layout: Single page
  • Magnification: Fit Width
  • Window Options: In the "Show" drop-down menu, select "Document Title"

See Formatting PDFs for the Web for more information.

5. Set the language.

Under File > Properties, go to the "Advanced" tab. Under "Reading Options," change the "Language" drop-down menu to "English."

6. Add bookmarks or embed page thumbnails.

Page Thumbnails

If your PDF is less than 15 pages long, you should embed page thumbnails. Open the PDF and select "Page Thumbnails" from the left column. You should see a thumbnail image of every page in the PDF. If this section is empty, select "Options" > Embed all Page Thumbnails.

See Formatting PDFs for the Web for more information.

An EERE PDF with embedded page thumbnails.


If your PDF is longer than 15 pages, you should add bookmarks. Open the PDF and select "Bookmarks" from the left column. Go through the document and add bookmarks. You can decide how many bookmarks are required and where they are needed. Bookmarks are often placed with one bookmark per chapter or major section.

You can create a new bookmark by navigating to a page, selecting the text to be bookmarked, and pushing Control + B. Alternately, you can select the text, then push the "New Bookmark" button.

See Formatting PDFs for the Web for more information.

An EERE PDF with bookmarks, showing the location of the "New Bookmark" button.

7. Add accessibility tags to document.

Click "Autotag Document."

If you cannot find this button under "Tools," go to View > Show / Hide > Toolbar Items > Customize Quick Tools. In the Customize Quick Tools menu, scroll down to Accessibility, click it, then find "Autotag Document." Click the arrow to add and then select "Save." "Autotag Document" will appear at the top of Adobe Acrobat in the quick tools section.

8. Use "Save As" to optimize the file.

The settings you installed in step #1 will optimize the file for fast viewing only if you use "Save As" to save the file under a new name. Simply saving the file will not optimize it.

9. Check that the file has been optimized.

Go to File > Properties.  The file should have a Title and a Subject. At the bottom of the box, you should see "Tagged PDF: Yes" and "Fast Web View: Yes."

If the file has not been tagged, see step #7. If the file has not been optimized for fast view, see step #8.


Do not Post PDFs of Scanned Images

Scanned PDFs, where the entire content of the PDF is an image, cannot be read by screen readers. If you post a scanned PDF, you must include a text version.

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