Acrobat XML Tags for Bates Numbering

by Mark Gavin

Adobe has released a technical note talking about additional XML data Acrobat 8 adds to each page of a PDF file when the file is Bates numbered using Acrobat 8.

Bates Numbering in PDF documents (PDF, 123K)

Here is what the XML looks like:

<Bates start=”1″ ndigits=”6″ prefix=”ADBE” suffix=”DRAFT”/>

The above XML is added to each page of the PDF file and will produce a Bates number on each page: for example;  ADBE000001DRAFT.

So, instead of simply correctly numbering each and every page; applications that attempt to use this information will need to calculate the Bates number based on the above XML attributes.  Easy enough; except, lawyers tend to split documents apart and append them back together in different ways.  So, in some cases, this mechanism will be worse then useless, because the wrong number will be returned.

Since Acrobat is placing the same XML data on each and every page; it would have been so easy to simply add another attribute with the actual Bates number for the given page.


The above image depicts the classic method of Bates Numbering documents.  The original can be found at the Early Office MuseumOffice Photos ~ 1920s