Bates numbering (or Bates stamping) is a helpful way to keep track of the documents you sent or received in your case. Gone are the days of manually adding that control number to your documents or trying to recall whether you received documents from opposing counsel or from a third-party subpoena.

This inexpensive process is just another way to stay organized and take advantage of the tools in your PDF software.

Basic Questions to Ask and Information Needed

  1. Do the documents need to be Bates numbered in any particular order?
  2. Do any of the documents need to be re-unitized?
    • i.e. Logical document breaks
  3. Are there any designations needed?
  4. Identify the Bates prefix to be used, the starting number, and the number of digits/places
    • i.e. AMA000001

When Bates numbering documents, you want to be sure each document is its own PDF file.

If you receive a single PDF file that contains multiple documents (like an employment file or insurance claim file), you will need to ask if the document should be unitized.  Unitized means that each document is a separate file.

Best Practice Tip: Never combine multiple PDF documents into one document if you will be uploading documents to a document review system. Each document should be unitized so that you can flag, code, or comment on the individual document.

Steps for Bates Numbering Documents in Adobe Acrobat

  1. Place all documents you need to Bates number in a folder called “originals.”
    You might have a mix of Word docs, email files, and PDFs. You will need to convert all to PDF in order to Bates number them.
  2. Create a target folder called “Bates.”
    This is where you will put all the final Bates numbered documents.
  3. This is where you will put all the final Bates numbered documents.
  4. Then select the “Bates Numbering” option and click on “Add.”
  5. Add all the documents you need to Bates number.
  6. Arrange the documents in the order you want them to be Bates numbered. If you need to move a document up or down the list, select the document and use the “Move Up” or “Move Down.” If you added a document by mistake, simply click on “Remove.”
  7. The settings should match the following.
    Click Ok.
  8. Then specify the formatting.
    Select the font and size you want and check your margins.
  9. Add the bates number conditions.
    Insert cursor into the “Right Footer Text” box and then click on “Insert Bates Number”. Add an alpha prefix and specify the number of digits you want.
  10. Click Ok.
    Adobe’s coding will be inserted in the “Right Footer Text” box and you will see a preview of your Bates number. Make any adjustments here.
  11. OPTIONAL: To add a designation as well, you can add it to the “Left Footer Text” box.
  12. Once you click on OK, the Bates numbering process will begin.

Quality Check

Do a quick final check of your Bates numbered documents to ensure your Bates numbers are in the correct position and any designations are correct. A sample designation and bates number are below.


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