Web standards for PDFs and other file types

This web standard is mandatory for all PDFs and other file types published on the public website.

  1. When to provide PDFs
  2. Standards for PDFs and other attachments
  3. Guidance on filenames and asset titles
  4. Reason for this web standard

1. When to provide PDFs

  • PDFs should not be used as an alternative to creating web pages. Where possible, our information must always be available as web pages as this is the most accessible format.
  • Do not link to third party PDFs, rather link to the external web page they are attached to.
  • PDF's that are five pages or less should be a webpage, unless it provides a better user experience
  • PDF's should be no more than 1MB to 2MB in size.

Reasons for providing PDF versions:

  • long documents such as service delivery plans and strategy documents
  • publicity material such as leaflets or posters
  • documents that can't be suitably converted to web pages (for example, graphs, complex maps or plans)
  • accessible version of documents that have to be provided in other file types such as Word, .csv, Excel etc.

2. Standards for PDFs

Standards for producing accessible PDFs can be found on Our Surrey.

3. Guidance on file name, asset titles and descriptions

A meaningful filename, asset title and description makes your attachment much easier to find using search engines and helps visitors to the website decide if it contains the information they are looking for and whether to open it or not. This is also important for accessibility reasons as attachment titles and descriptions are used by screen readers.

Please also see: Web standards for page and file titles and Web standards for adding meta descriptions

  • Attachment filename – should be lower case with no special characters (except hyphens/underscore to replace spaces). Don't use full stops in your title and include the date in this format, particularly for documents that are regularly updated: service-delivery-plan-13-04-30.pdf - please the (dd-mm-yy) date format as this is the default in Matrix and helps us be consistent.
  • Asset title - make sure that the title is grammatically correct and meaningful; ideally it should be the full title of the document. Do not use acronyms or reference numbers unless they are explained eg Annual Review of Education, Health and Care Plan form AR011– not ECHP AR011. Do not use block capitals and never use the filename as the asset title.
  • Asset Description - if you have had to split a long document into sections in a number of separate files, each one should include the document title, date of publication, the part/chapter number and a summary of the contents of that particular part/chapter. The filename should also reflect the part or chapter number if possible to help identify it from the other files that make up the whole document.
  • Text references - if you refer to the attachment in the text of your pages, you should be consistent and use the full title, the year or date of publication. For example: Full details are available in the Safer Cycling in Surrey report (2009).


File name: Surrey_geology_report_2014_part3.pdf
Asset title: Surrey Geology Report 2014 part 3
Description: Part 3 of 9. This section of the report covers the chalk downlands in Tandridge and Mole Valley.

4. Reason for this web standard

PDF web standards are mandatory for technical, usability and accessibility reasons.

  • Following the PDF standards will make your PDF accessible and your information will be viewable by a wider audience.
  • Illegal characters in a filename can prevent some users from being able to open the attachment. This is because some punctuation or symbols have a technical function.

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