What You Need to Know About Digital Bates Numbering

Law firms deal with hundreds – if not thousands – of documents on a daily basis. When a law office conducts major litigation, attorneys must collect and organize its documents in a way that makes referencing them relatively easy for the opposing party and the court. For more than a hundred years, legal practices have utilized the Bates numbering system to fostering a smooth litigation process.

What Is Bates Numbering?

The bates numbering system was invented in the late 1800s by Edwin G. Bates in an effort to promote efficiency for document identification and information reference. Historically, the Bates numbering process was accomplished using a Bates Stamper to index pages using a four-digit sequence.

Document originals often have pages that have already been numbered. To avoid confusion, Bates numbering gives each page a universal number that is strictly used by attorneys and courts to reference individual document pages that are part of a larger volume of records.

Since the introduction of the Bates numbering system, its use has become ubiquitous in legal practice. Both private law firms and courts rely on Bates numbering to help make sense of what would otherwise be a daunting sea of seemingly unending documents.

Bates numbering is the preferred indexing system used for voluminous records, such as in state court and federal appeals cases. Some jurisdictions have even made the use of Bates numbering an explicit requirement under the provisions of their Rules of Court.

Digital Bates Numbering

Most mainstream PDF software has a Bates numbering feature. Applications such as Adobe Acrobat can take separate PDF documents and merge them into a master PDF file for submission to other attorneys and courts.

In Adobe Acrobat, Bates numbering is simple. Follow the following steps to implement Bates stamps on your PDF document:

Open your master PDF file comprised of separate PDFs that have been merged together in Adobe:

  1. Select Tools > Edit PDF
  2. In the Edit PDF toolbar, click on More > Bates Numbering > Add
  3. After the Bates Numbering box is displayed, click Add Files
    • If you haven’t already merged a PDF, you can add multiple PDFs by click Add Files
    • You can select an entire folder of PDFs for Bates numbering by clicking Add Folders
  4. Choose a folder where the final PDF will be saved by clicking Output Options
  5. Click the Add Header & Footer dialog box
    • Select where the Bates stamp will appear (left corner, center, or right corner of either the Header or Footer)
  6. Click Insert Bates Number and specify the stamp parameters:
    • Number of digits: If your PDF has less than 100 pages, you can use 2 digits. If your PDF has more than 100 pages but less than 1,000, use 3 digits. For PDFs with more than 1,000 pages but less than 10,000, use 4 digits, etc. For example, page 42 of a 365-page document will appear as 042.
    • Start number: You can specify the number at which the first page of the PDF starts. If you want to continue a previous bates numbering sequence from another file that ended at 365, you should start numbering at “366.”
    • Prefix: You can use an alphanumeric sequence to precede your bates number. For example, page 42 of a 3,210 record for an appellant’s opening brief (AOB) can be stamped as “AOB0042.
    • Suffix: Alphanumeric sequence can appear after your bates number.
  7. Click OK to apply your bates stamps to the PDF.

If you made a mistake when creating a Bates numbered PDF, you can also undo bates previous numbering.

  1. Open the PDF you previous bates numbered
  2. Select Tools > Edit PDF
  3. Under the Edit PDF toolbar, click More > Bates Numbering > Remove

Quality Print Services from Acro Photo Print, Inc.

At Acro Photo Print, Inc., we’ve proudly provided printing and document services for New York law firms for nearly half a century. We have experience with document organization methods like bates numbering ever since the process was performed manually with a stamp. We understand the importance of conforming documents to court rules on formatting. That’s why New York law firms have grown to trust us in helping them with all their printing and document needs.

Call Acro Photo Print, Inc. at (929) 244-4322 or contact us online today. for more information about how we can help you.

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