What version of PDF should I be specifying when using pdfTeX? I know it defaults to 1.5, so that you can have object compression. Is there any reason I would want to raise this? For example, will I get a smaller file or such?

Alternatively, are there any interesting features that I could access by raising the version. I could see XeTeX and LuaTeX users wanting OpenType embedding (V1.6), while most of the things after v1.6 seem to be multimedia or encyption related, except for V1.7 which adds "new string types: PDFDocEncoded string, ASCII string, byte string" ---Is this something that would improve my output files?

Will setting the minor version number higher then 7 improve my PDF output, or will it just cause incompatibility flags for people with outdated PDF readers? I'm also only really interested in things which I can take advantage of through LaTeX (i.e. pdfTeX supports it, or there is a marco package to add support for it). Theoretical features that I can't use are much less interesting.

2 Answers 2


If you include PDFs into your document, you should set it to the highest version of the included PDFs. Otherwise 1.5 is the highest version that will have any effect on the PDF generated by pdfTeX.

  • I know this isn't in my question, but what about LuaTeX?
    – Canageek
    Jan 21, 2012 at 15:55
  • @Canageek:It's the same for LuaTeX and AFAIK XeTeX. Jan 21, 2012 at 16:00

pdf 1.5 is the highest level that pdftex copes with.

i don't know if pdftex complains if you set \pdfminorversion > 5, but doing so is unlikely to be useful, anyway. other pdf-based applications may complain; acrobat reader, for example, will say that the document may not all be readable, and only gives up if it encounters a feature it can't cope with.

i don't know (have never tried, nor read the documentation) whether xetex or luatex do work with pdf > 1.5, but i'll bet 1.6 is at least "on their cards". pdftex is unlikely to get beyond 1.5 (since it's supposed to be frozen).

  • All the *TeXs can cope with all available versions of PDF. Jan 21, 2012 at 11:34

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