Palomar Observatory

Keck Observatory

Caltech Optical Observatories

Caltech Astronomy

California Institute of Technology

PDF File Merging

COO observing time solicitations typically call for Adobe Systems' Portable Document Format (PDF) submissions. Further, we often ask proposers to consolidate two or more separately generated documents (e.g. proposal coversheet, proposal narrative) into a single submission file to facilitate our proposal handling and decrease the possibility of processing error. So it's attendant on us to provide some guidance on options to perform PDF file consolidation or merging.

Some PDF File Merging Options (you might find useful):

  • Acrobat Pro:

    Acrobat Pro is a COTS software application available for Windows and MacOS platforms, and performs PDF file merging among many advanced PDF manipulation features. For Caltech-based applicants: Caltech maintains a site license for Acrobat Pro — see the Caltech IMSS Software website for more information. Also please note that the Mac and PC computers in the Cahill computer lab (249 Cahill) have Acrobat Pro installed, Note the lab computers are commonly-used machines, so plan using them to process potentially sensitive information accordingly.
  • ghostscript:

    ghostscript is a popular free software suite for processing Adobe's PostScript and PDF notations. ghostscript is commonly/typically found pre-installed on unix-like operating systems (e.g. linux, MacOS) and supports a command-line invocation for merging multiple PDF files into a single PDF file:

    gs -dNOPAUSE -sDEVICE=pdfwrite -sOUTPUTFILE=combined.pdf -dBATCH pdf1.pdf pdf2.pdf pdf3.pdf ...

    For additional discussion of this use case see
  • PDFjoin:

    PDFjoin is a web-based application that merges multiple PDF files into a single file (i.e. no software to install). We (COO) take no position on whether users should feel secure uploading potentially competition-sensitive information to an external website; we encourage you to consider the security implications carefully.
  • PDFaid:

    PDFaid is another on-line PDF merge utility. Please consider security implications carefully.
  • PDFtk:

    PDFtk is a Windows-centric "PDF toolkit" suite that includes both free and pay variants. Apparently there are older ports for linux.
  • PDFpen:

    PDFpen is a MacOS-specific COTS application that apparently supports many PDF manipulations including merging.
  • Nitro:

    Nitro is COTS PDF manipulation software that apparently supports many PDF manipulations including merging.
  • PDFill:

    PDFill is a free Windows-only PDF merging utility.

PDF Merging / v 0.1
Last updated: 11 February 2015 AFB