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PDF Explained by John Whitington

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Chapter 2. Building a Simple PDF

In this chapter, we’ll build PDF content manually in a text editor. Then we’ll use the free pdftk program to turn it into a valid PDF file and look at the output in a PDF viewer.

This example, together with all the PDF files in this book, can be downloaded from the web page for this book.

We’ll be looking at a lot of new concepts all at once, so don’t worry if it seems overwhelming—we’ll come back to all of this in future chapters.

Basic PDF Syntax

A PDF file contains at least three distinct languages:

  • The document content, which is a number of objects with links between them forming a directed graph. These objects describe the structure of the document (pages, metadata, fonts, and resources).

  • The page content, described using a series of operators for placing text and graphics on a single page.

  • The file structure, consisting ...

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