Office of Grant Support

PDF Format

 NIH will not accept special characters or spaces in pdf file names.

The safest approach is to name all pdf files with letters and numbers only and WITHOUT SPACES.

NIH’s validations will allow the following legal and reserved URL characters:

The legal characters in URLs are:
A through Z, a through z, and 0 through 9
Hyphen (-), underscore (_), period (.), exclamation point (!), tilde (~), asterisk (*), accent ('),left parenthesis ( ( ), right parenthesis ( ) )

The reserved characters consist of:
Semi-colon (;) slash (/), question mark (?), colon (:), at sign (@), ampersand (&), equals sign (=), plus sign (+), dollar sign ($), and comma (,)

Brackets ("[" and "]") are not accepted.

When using Adobe Acrobat (and possibly other tools), the signature has to be “off” when you create the originals. Please go to the security options menu selection in Adobe to ensure the signature is off. If you do not have the originals, copy the content of the signed documents and create a new document. Save this document without signing it.

Applicants should not submit protected PDF documents. 

Protected documents prevent NIH from opening and processing the document. Security settings vary by PDF tool, but please ensure security settings are not marked. Look at the Document Security tab under Document Properties (directly from the tab) and set the security parameters to ensure open access so NIH can process the content. For instance, do not password protect the document and do not mark Content Extraction or Copying; Document Assembly, etc as “Not Allowed.”

If you are having trouble fixing the PDF settings, simply cut and paste from the PDF document into a Microsoft Word document and then reconvert (in some cases it may be better to use another PDF converter).

Note: NIH had previously suggested that applicants not use active links in PDFs. NIH has since addressed the issue and applicants can now include active links in PDFs."

Editable fields are now allowed (fields that can be filled using your PDF Reader software, e.g., text fields, check boxes).Until recently,  NIH wasn't able to convert such documents, but they have solved that problem.

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