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[Raku PDF Project] / PDF::Tags


A small DOM-like API for the creation of tagged PDF files for accessibility purposes.

This module enables PDF tagged content manipulation, construction, XPath queries and basic XML serialization.

See also PDF::Tags::Reader, which is designed to read content from existing tagged PDF files.


use PDF::Tags;
use PDF::Tags::Elem;

use PDF::API6;
use PDF::Page;
use PDF::XObject::Image;

my PDF::API6 $pdf .= new;
my PDF::Tags $tags .= create: :$pdf;
# create the document root
my PDF::Tags::Elem $doc = $tags.Document: :Lang<en-NZ>;

my PDF::Page $page = $pdf.add-page;
my $header-font = $page.core-font: :family<Helvetica>, :weight<bold>;
my $body-font = $page.core-font: :family<Helvetica>;

$page.graphics: -> $gfx {

    $doc.Header1: $gfx, {
        .say('Marked Level 1 Header',
             :position[50, 120]);

    $doc.Paragraph: $gfx, {
        .say('Marked paragraph text', :position[50, 100], :font($body-font), :font-size(12));

    # add a marked image
    my PDF::XObject::Image $img .= open: "t/images/lightbulb.gif";
    $doc.Figure: $gfx, $img, :Alt('Incandescent apparatus');


$pdf.save-as: "/tmp/synopsis.pdf"


A tagged PDF contains additional markup information describing the logical document structure of PDF documents.

PDF tagging may assist PDF readers and other automated tools in reading PDF documents and locating content such as text and images.

This module provides a DOM like interface for creating and traversing PDF structure and content via tags. It also an XPath like search capability. It is designed for use in conjunction with PDF::Class or PDF::API6.

Standard Tags

Elements may be constructed using their Tag name or Mnemonic, as listed below. For example:

$root.P: $gfx, { .say('Marked paragraph text') };

Can also be written as:

$root.Paragraph: $gfx, { .say('Marked paragraph text') };

Or as:

$root.add-kid(:name<P>).mark: $gfx, { .say('Marked paragraph text') };

"Grouping" elements:

DocumentWhole document; must be used if there are multiple parts or articles
PartLarge division of a document; may group smaller units of content together, such as Division, Article, or Section elements.
ArtArticleSelf-contained body of text considered to be a single narrative.
SectSectionGeneral container element type that is usually a component of a Part or Article element
DivDivisionGeneric block element or group of element
BlockQuoteA large portion of text referencing content from another source
CaptionDescription of a Figure or Table
TOCTableOfContentsMay be nested, and may be used for lists of figures, tables, etc.
TOCITableOfContentsItemTable of contents (leaf) item
IndexAn index of keywords and topics, usually at the end of the document (text with accompanying Reference content)
NonStructNonStructuralnon-structural grouping element (element itself not intended to be exported to other formats like HTML, but 'transparent' to its content which is processed normally)
PrivateContent only meaningful to the creator (element and its content not intended to be exported to other formats like HTML)
DocumentFragmentA partial document fragment (PDF 2.0)
AsideDistinct side content (PDF 2.0)
SubSubdivisionA subdivision (PDF 2.0)
TitleEncloses a title of a document or section (PDF 2.0)
FENoteUsed to markup end notes and footnotes (PDF 2.0)

"Block" elements:

Mnemonic | Tag | Description

HHeadingNested section heading (not recommended)
H1 - H6Heading1 - Heading6The title or heading of a section within the text content
PParagraphA distinct section of a piece of writing, usually dealing with a single theme
LListA group of similar items that are related to each other. Should include optional Caption, and list items
LIListItemA Single list element. Should contain Lbl and/or LBody
LblLabelBullet, number, or "dictionary headword"
LBodyListBodyDescription of the item; may have nested lists or other blocks

"Table" elements:

TableContent arranged into rows and columns; should either contain TR, or THead, TBody and/or TFoot
TRTableRowA single row of cell elements within a table
THTableHeaderDescription of column contents
TDTableDataA cell element
THeadTableHeadA row of table headers
TBodyTableBodyTable body; may have more than one per table
TFootTableFootTable footer row group

"Inline" elements:

SpanGeneric inline content.
QuoteInline text referencing content from another source
NoteEnd-note or footnote; may have a Lbl (see "block" elements)
ReferenceContent in a document that refers to other content (e.g. page number in an index)
BibEntryBibliographyEntryText referring the user to source of cited text. May have a Lbl (see "block" elements)
CodeComputer code
Linkhyperlink; should contain a link annotation
AnnotAnnotationannotation (other than a link)
RubyChinese/Japanese pronunciation/explanation
RBRubyBaseTextRuby base text
RTRubyTextRuby annotation text
WarichuJapanese/Chinese longer description
EmphasisEm(PDF 2.0)
Strong(PDF 2.0)

"Illustration" elements (should have Alt and/or ActualText set):

FigureAn image or graphic that is referenced by the text
FormulaA scientific or mathematical formula element
FormAn editable PDF field used to complete a form

Non-structure tags:

ArtifactUsed to mark all content not part of the logical structure
ReversedCharsEvery string of text has characters in reverse order for technical reasons (due to how fonts work for right-to-left languages); strings may have spaces at the beginning or end to separate words, but may not have spaces in the middle

Classes in this Distribution

Advanced Topics

Form and Image XObjects

In the simple case, both PDF::XObject::Form's and PDF::XObject::Image's are inserted and externally tagged as an atomic graphical element, typically tagged as Figure or Form:

my PDF::XObject::Image $img .= open: "t/images/lightbulb.gif";

my $figure = $doc.Figure: $gfx, $img, :position[50, 70], :Alt("A light-bulb");

A PDF::XObject::Form may be associated with a document fragment. The form can then be rendered, and the fragment inserted into the document, by repeatedly calling do on the fragment, as demonstrated below:

use PDF::Tags;
use PDF::Tags::Elem;
use PDF::Class;
use PDF::XObject::Form;
my PDF::Class $pdf .= new;
my PDF::Tags $tags .= create: :$pdf;
my PDF::Tags::Elem $doc = $tags.Document;

my PDF::Page $page = $pdf.add-page;
$page.graphics: -> $gfx {
   $doc.Header1: $gfx, {
        .say('Header text');

    my PDF::XObject::Form $form = $page.xobject-form: :BBox[0, 0, 200, 50];
    my PDF::Tags::Elem $form-frag = $doc.fragment;

    $form.text: {
        my $font-size = 12;
        .text-position = [10, 38];
        $form-frag.Header2: $_, {
            .say: "Tagged XObject header";
        my $p = $form-frag.Paragraph: $_, {
            .say: "Some sample tagged text";

    # multiple rendering of the form, and insertion into the structure tree
    $doc.do($gfx, $form-frag, :position[150, 70]);
    $doc.do($gfx, $form-frag, :position[150, 20]);

Links are usually contained in a block element, such as a Paragraph. If the link is internal, it should be further enclosed in a Reference element.

Furthermore, if the link is in flowing text, such as a paragraph, the mark method may be needed to mark preceding text, the link, and following text.

Please see examples/link.raku which demonstrates adding an tagged internal link to a PDF.

Graphics Content Tags

As a rule, all content doesn't have to form part of the structure tree, but should be tagged to meet accessibility guidelines.

This sometimes requires tagging of incidental graphics. PDF::Content has a tag() method for this. The content is be tagged, but does not appear in the content stream.

Some of the commonly used content tags are:


Artifact content forms part of the visual display, but does not belong in the Structure Tree and is tagged using the PDF::Content tag method.

For example:

$gfx.tag: Artifact, {
    .say("Page $page-num", :$font, :position[ 250, 20 ]);


A clipped region encompasses additional graphics that are being used as part of a clipping operation. The clipped area may include graphics that are part of the structure tree. For example:

use PDF::Class;
use PDF::Tags;
use PDF::Tags::Elem;
use PDF::Content::Tag :ContentTags, :ParagraphTags;

my PDF::Class $pdf .= new;
my PDF::Tags $tags .= create: :$pdf;
# create the document root
my PDF::Tags::Elem $doc = $tags.Document;

$pdf.add-page.graphics: {
    .tag: Clipped, {
        .Rectangle: 100, 100, 125, 20;
        $doc.Paragraph: $_, {
            .say: 'Clip me', :position[98, 98];

The above example is setting up a clipping sequence. The clipped text is being inserted as a paragraph in the structure tree.


This tag may be used in the structure tree, or at the content level to defined attributes of a graphics sequence. Its usage is similar to the XHTML span tag.

$gfx.tag: Span: :Lang<es-MX>, {
    .say('Hasta la vista', :position[50, 80]);

It can be used almost anywhere in the structure tree, or at the content level, as above.

Role Maps

The PDF standard allows user defined tags, which are mapped to standard tags via a role-map table. PDF::Tags supports this feature, via the create :role-map option. One declared, role-map entries, can be called as standard construction methods:

use PDF::Tags;
use PDF::Tags::Elem;
use PDF::Class;
use PDF::Page;

enum RoleMap ( :Body<Section>, :Footnote<Note>, :Book<Document> );
constant %role-map = RoleMap.enums.Hash;

my PDF::Class $pdf .= new;
my PDF::Tags $tags .= create: :$pdf, :%role-map;

my PDF::Tags::Elem $doc = $tags.Book;
my PDF::Page $page = $pdf.add-page;

$page.graphics: -> $gfx {

    $doc.Paragraph: $gfx, {
        .say: 'Some body text¹', :position[50, 150];

    $doc.Footnote: $gfx, {
        .say: '¹With a foot-note', :position[50, 20];


Content Continuation

Content sometimes needs to be continued across graphics objects, such as a paragraph that spans multiple pages. The mark method may be called repeatably to achieve this:

use PDF::Class;
use PDF::Tags;
use PDF::Tags::Elem;
use PDF::Page;
use PDF::Content::FontObj;

my PDF::Class $pdf .= new;
my PDF::Tags $tags .= create: :$pdf;
my PDF::Tags::Elem $doc = $tags.Document;
my PDF::Page $page = $pdf.add-page;
my PDF::Content::FontObj $font = $pdf.core-font: :family<Helvetica>;
my PDF::Tags::Elem $para = $doc.Paragraph;

$page.graphics: -> $gfx {

    $para.mark: $gfx, {
        .say('This paragraph starts on first page...',
             :position[50, 600]);


$page = $pdf.add-page;
$page.graphics: -> $gfx {

    $para.mark: $gfx, {
        .say('...and finishes on the second page',
             :position[50, 600]);


$pdf.save-as: "span.pdf";

Tagging and Metadata

If a PDF document is tagged for accessibility, additional metadata usually also needs to be set-up; typically Title, Author, Subject, Keywords and language. For example:

use PDF::API6;
use PDF::Info;
my PDF::API6 $pdf .= open: "/tmp/synopsis.pdf";

my PDF::Info $info = $pdf.Info //= {};
$info.Title = 'PDF::Tags README Synopsis';
$info.Subject = 'Sample Output PDF';
$info.Author = 'David Warring';
$info.Keywords = 'accessibility,pdf,tags';
$pdf.catalog.Lang = 'en';

Note that PDF::API6 automatically fills in Producer, Creator and CreationDate.


The pdf-tag-dump.raku script from the PDF::Tags::Reader module can be used to view the logical content of PDF files as XML, for example:

$ pdf-tag-dump.raku /tmp/synopsis.pdf


<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<!DOCTYPE Document SYSTEM "http://pdf-raku.github.io/dtd/tagged-pdf.dtd">
<?xml-stylesheet type="text/css" href="https://pdf-raku.github.io/css/tagged-pdf.css"?>
    Marked Level 1 Header
    Marked paragraph text
  <Figure BBox="0 0 19 19">

The XML output from pdf-tag-dump.raku includes an external DtD for basic validation purposes.

For example, it can be piped to xmllint, from the libxml2 package, to check the structure of the tags:

$ pdf-tag-dump.raku /tmp/synopsis.pdf | xmllint --noout --valid -

See Also

Further Work

The PDF accessibility standard ISO 14289-1 cannot be distributed and needs to be purchased from ISO.