What is PDF/VT?

What is PDF/VT?

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ธันวาคม 30, 2022

Businesses and organizations can use an additional variation of the PDF document standard to become much more efficient. This specification is known as PDF/VT, which allows users to customize documents such as direct mail, invoices, delivery notes, and more. In this article, we will cover all aspects of the PDF/VT file, including its types, differences from PDF, and benefits.

Table of Contents

What is PDF/VT?

PDF/VT stands for “PDF for Variable and Transactional Printing,” which means printing with variable data and personalized content. It is an international standard that was published as ISO 16612-2 in August 2010.

PDF is the first Variable Data Printing Format (VDP) based on PDF/X-4, and guarantees modern color management by the International Color Consortium (ICC) through the use of ICC output intents.

PDF/VT is a special kind of PDF format. A type of format specifically designed for variable data printing (VDP) in a variety of environments. From desktop printing to digital production machines.
Variable data printing is printing documents in which some of the material changes for each recipient. It is often used in direct mail. Statements, promotions, and invoices are all examples of transactional printing.

Variable Printing Defined

The letters V and T in PDF/VT stand for variable and transactional data. The letter “V” stands for “variable. The letter “T” stands for “transactional.” PDF/VT files are generated by VDP applications.
Let’s break it down in more detail:

Transactional Printing vs. Variable Printing

Variable Printing Defined:

The phrase “variable printing” is general. It entails adding individual information to mass-printed papers to make them personalized. Without pausing the printing process, text, graphics, or images can change from one printed document to the next. This makes it possible for a client to target various audiences. With this method, you can print unique names, addresses, and greetings on mailings.
Variable printing refers to any type of data that fluctuates while the primary content stays the same.

Transactional Printing Defined:

Transactional printing is a subset of variable printing, which allows you to include a large amount of personal information in your document. In addition, transactional printing allows you to add a huge amount of customized data, while variable printing allows you to include only a small amount.
For instance, transactional printing enables continuous printing while maintaining a consistent template and including transactional information, like a list of charges in a bank statement. Extreme customization, indeed! It is most frequently used for documents like statements, retirement portfolios, bills, and invoices.

What are the different types of PDF/VT?

There are 3 different types of PDF/VT:


PDF/VT-1 – A PDF that consists of only one file. All of the data that can be found in that file is built into it. It’s basic, but it’s simplified and usually preferred by those who like to have the information presented directly.



PDF/VT-2 – A PDF that can link to further PDF objects is provided by PDF/VT-2. Authors may easily establish links with this form of PDF, which is perfect for publications with a lot of data.


PDF/VT-2s can be the most sophisticated. It supports real-time data streaming and can process some portions of data. This allows segmented portions of data to be processed.


What is the difference between PDF and PDF/VT?

PDF/VT-1 differs from a regular PDF. It can contain the information needed to print multiple records/recipients/documents in a single file. For example:

  • Difference #1: It knows when an entry/recipient/booklet ends and the next begins (this is necessary if you are going to do a mail merge).
  • Difference #2: It can contain metadata. This can be useful for document management systems or other custom post-processing workflows.
  • Difference #3: It can define information about the medium. For example, the first recipient receives glossy paper and the second recipient receives matte paper.

The best output format for you is determined by your output device (like a printer) and the type of job being processed. We recommend running several tests with different output types and using the one that best suits your environment.

You can read about what a PDF is and how to work with it in our previous blog post.

How to process a PDF/VT file?

Although Adobe does offer software for opening and producing PDF/VT files, individual consumers cannot directly purchase such software from Adobe. You need to purchase software integrated into your workflow to get a processing mechanism for printing. The name of this program is Adobe PDF Printing Engine.

Who uses PDF/VT?

Variable data in digital printing has evolved over the past years potentially to a widely utilized method for conveying all kinds of customized information. You can use PDF/VT for everything: from credit card bills and bank statements to postcards and personalized catalogs, from college application materials to Christmas greetings and photo books, from labels to tickets, and from checks to ID cards.

Corporations and organizations that do a lot of business with other firms to ensure personalized operations make extensive use of this standard. The PDF/VT format can be the best option for a company that uses and conducts transactions with a lot of names, addresses, and other types of data for each recipient. Marketing and finance departments are the ones who use the PDF/VT format the most. Personalization of the document makes the company appear more professional and promotes the bond between the company and its customers.


To clarify, a PDF/VT file is still a PDF file that has the same file extension as a regular PDF file. You can open the file with the same reader, such as Adobe Acrobat. It does, however, include unique features that enable an effective workflow or simpler access, much like any other PDF standard. The two current PDF printing job standards, PDF/X-4 and PDF/X-5, are the foundation of PDF/VT. The inability to encrypt the file is the single drawback of this standard. What makes PDF/VT unique is that it can take a straightforward PDF and transform it into something quite spectacular by allowing it to contain more items like text, photos, and visualizations without affecting the printed quality.

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