When was the 200 inch page limit broken ?

I am in discussion with my software vendor about the 200 inch page limit in Adbobe PDF. Let me explain.

I use the management software - from Vendor A - for printing large-format plans, wich also has an graphic editor for editing scans and plans in different formats. Starting from a scan of a long plan, I can create TIFFs and PDFs without problems, readable by other programs. Only when I create a PDF from a scan that's larger than 200 inch, of 5,08 meter, I hit a problem. Those PDFs can only be read by the editing software from Vendor A, and not by Adobe Reader (9 or X)

Now we are introducing a new CAD/graphics package from Vendor B, that has the possibility to print/export to PDF. Testing that with a long (> 5m) plan, it produces a PDF tha CAN be read by Adobe Reader. When I try to edit that PDF in the editor of the package from Vendor A, the plan is cropped at 200 inch. Sadly, it does that also when producing a print from that PDF. The package probably uses the same code interpreting the PDF for print as interpreting the PDF for the editor.

Now because Adobe + ISO is the standard for PDF, and because there is at least 1 program (from Vendor B) that can create a PDF large than 200 inch, I suspect a standards problem. Yet Vendor A claims it's following them. Hence My question.

I suspect that somewhere between PDF 1.4 and 1.7, the possibility to create larger pages (+ 200 inch) was introduced or changed. It would help me if someone could answer the question, and offer any relevant background information so that I am stronger in my conflict with software Vendor A.


Jan Vanden Bossche

1 Answer


200 x 200 inches is Distiller’s limit for PostScript. It’s based on the Windows printer driver limitation.

The maximum page size is 15 million inches (381 km), this is from the PDF Reference 1.6:

177. In PDF versions earlier than PDF 1.6, the size of the default user space unit is fixed at 172 inch. In Acrobat viewers earlier than version 4.0, the minimum allowed page size is 72 by 72 units in default user space (1 by 1 inch); the maximum is 3240 by 3240 units (45 by 45 inches). In Acrobat versions 5.0 and later, the minimum allowed page size is 3 by 3 units (approximately 0.04 by 0.04 inch); the maximum is 14,400 by 14,400 units (200 by 200 inches).

Beginning with PDF 1.6, the size of the default user space unit may be set with the UserUnit entry of the page dictionary. Acrobat 7.0 supports a maximum UserUnit value of 75,000, which gives a maximum page dimension of 15,000,000 inches (14,400 * 75,000 * 172). The minimum UserUnit value is 1.0 (the default).

JR Boulay   

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