Can I Print the PMBOK Guide 5th Edition PDF legally?

2 minute read    Updated:    Harwinder Singh

Print PMBOK Guide Legally

Many Project Managers, PMPs and PMP aspirants are not sure whether they are legally allowed to print the PDF version of the PMBOK® Guide, 5th Edition? Some of them might have already printed it and living with the guilt of violating the PMI Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct. So, is it legal to print the PMBOK Guide?

Update, Sep 24, 2017: With the release of PMBOK Guide, 6th Edition, PMI has changed their terms with regard to printing the PMBOK Guide and other PMI Standards. Read the post Why can’t I Print the PMBOK Guide, 6th Edition to learn more.

Yes. With the new security features in the PMBOK Guide, PMI has made it legal to print the PDF Version of the Guide, as long as the PDF file is licensed under your name. Note: All PMI Members get free access to the electronic version (PDF) of the latest edition of PMBOK Guide. In fact, this is one of the 10 benefits of PMI Membership.

I quote the following paragraph from PMI’s Terms:

3.2 PMI Content. As a courtesy to our customers and members, we have posted to the Site certain PMI Content. Unless otherwise specifically set forth on the Site or we give you written permission, you may only use and access, download and copy the PMI Content (and print a single copy) for your personal use, and you agree you will not alter, erase or otherwise obscure our copyright, proprietary or other notices on the PMI Content.

Also, there used to be an FAQ about the PMBOK® Guide, 5th Edition on the PMI website that I quote below.

Can I print the PDF? Yes, you can print the PMBOK® Guide, 5th Edition file you have downloaded. When you print the file, it is marked with your username and member ID, and it is secured with your password. This means the file is licensed to you for your personal use only. If you print the file, it will be identified with a notice that says, "Licensed to (First name, last name, PMI member ID). This copy is a PMI Member Benefit, not for distribution, sale or reproduction." The file can only be opened using your password. Again, this is designed to protect PMI's intellectual property and preserve the value of this member benefit.

If you haven’t downloaded your copy of the PMBOK Guide yet, you can do so following the instructions here:

PMBOK 6th Edition PDF Free Download

Image source: pakorn / FreeDigitalPhotos

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Another PMI member Avatar

So yeah, version 6 of the PMBOK is out (with the agile book added on), the terms and conditions website says the same thing (you can print one copy for personal use), but printing is prohibited. Seriously, PMI? We shell out major bucks to you despite you having a boatload of cash in the bank, and you won’t even let us print your stupid book for personal use with all of our personal information plastered all over it. Apparently the trust is one-directional; we have to swear by our firstborns that we will live to your exacting standards, but you in turn think that we’re all a bunch of crooks.

Of course I can’t speak about this using personally identifying information because I’m sure I’ll be thrown into a work camp for exercising first amendment freedom of speech if it entails being critical of PMI. Those guys. Geez. Dictator much?

Harwinder Singh Avatar

Hello ‘Another PMI member’,

Thanks for your message. I kind of understand where you are coming from.

When I downloaded the PMBOK 6th Edition, the first thing I noticed were the big and bold watermarks “Not for distribution, sale or reproduction” running diagonally across each page of the guide. They are so annoying and distracting. I was also like “come on, PMI! This is absolutely ridiculous”.

They already have our name and PMI ID stamped in the footer and so is the “Not for distribution …” message. The huge watermarks were completely uncalled for.

For someone who’s determined to copy the content, it takes less than 2 minutes to remove all protection and watermarks using online tools.

So I agree with what you said - the trust is one-directional only. Sadly.