Module 6: Checkpoint 4—Document optimisation

Conformance: Mandatory


Non-HTML documents must be optimised for online delivery.

Documents must:

  • only include images that are saved at 72 dpi prior to insertion
  • convert bitmap images of text into actual text
  • be set to open in the correct orientation (for all pages)
  • be created so that the pages are viewed and printed in order
  • have some hidden data and collaboration data removed (such as such as change tracking and comments)
  • have the document history removed
  • have unnecessary watermarks removed (e.g 'draft')
  • have blank pages and inside covers removed.

Exceptions to this include:

Certain hidden data (metadata) must be included for resource discovery. Refer to Checkpoint 8 - Metadata for what should be included.

Benefits of conformance

  • Reduced legal risk.
  • Lower costs of document delivery via the online channel.
  • Increased customer satisfaction through improved usability and accessibility.

Increased readability for users with cognitive disabilities (including reduced short-term memory, difficulty concentrating, and being easily distracted).

Risks of non-conformance

  • Potential for embarrassment and negative publicity for government.
  • Potential legal risk if sensitive or personal information is released, breaching the Information Privacy Act 2009.
  • Increased costs for service provision.
  • Reduced website (server) performance
  • User dissatisfaction resulting in website abandonment.

Implementation advice


Reduce legal risk

When a non-HTML document is created, edited, or saved using Microsoft Office applications, hidden data (also known as metadata) is automatically added to the document. When this document is distributed electronically hidden data remains present, but often not visible, until it is deleted. Some data is easily seen and some can be viewed only by opening the document in a specialised program.

Often this is information that should not be shared publicly, such as information that allows collaboration on writing and editing a document with others. This document metadata can put agencies at risk if viewed or extracted, by exposing sensitive information that is not intended for public distribution.

Common features such as 'track changes', create a significant amount of hidden data in documents. The following types of hidden data may be accessible in a document:

  • Document title
  • Keywords
  • Author name
  • Company name
  • Computer name
  • Server information (network server or hard drive on which the document is saved)
  • Print and save dates
  • Portions of embedded objects that are not visible in your document
  • Names of people who have reviewed and saved a document
  • Hidden comments
  • Track changes (inserted or deleted text that may not be visible).

Document metadata can also be transferred to a PDF during the creation process.

Tools should be used in Microsoft Office applications or Adobe Acrobat to delete hidden metadata permanently before distributing non-HTML documents to others.

Lower online document delivery costs

Agencies can realise direct cost savings by optimising non-HTML documents intended for online delivery. This is achieved by implementing simple optimisation techniques that will:

  • reduce the size of each document served
  • reduce server load
  • increase user download speeds and reduce bandwidth congestion
  • reduce the need for additional bandwidth or servers.

Increased customer satisfaction

Optimised non-HTML documents are more usable to everyone, including people with disabilities.

The benefits include:

  • Extended audience reach catering for low bandwidth users and users of older technologies.