Adobe Bates Numbering?

by Mark Gavin

We received an email from one of our customers, who is an attorney, who uses Bates numbering on a regular basis.  Following is one of the sentences from this customers email:

“I wouldn’t have thought it possible, but Adobe has managed to implement its Bates-stamping in a manner which makes it virtually useless [or at least highly impractical for use by] attorneys, the primary users of Bates-stamp utilities.”

When I saw this I decided to take a look at Acrobat Bates Numbering.

I really don’t use most of the features available in Acrobat, this being no exception.  But, I do know how Bates numbering works because Appligent was the first to implement Bates numbering of PDF documents in our StampPDF product line back in 1997.

I started with a simple 20 page test document and placed a basic Bates number sequence in the top left corner.  That seemed to work; but, I did notice that Acrobat would automatically overwrite the original PDF documents without giving me a warning that I was about to alter the originals.  Unless I missed it; I did not see an option to save the files to a new directory.

Next, I tried left/right page numbering ( recto verso format ).  This is very useful when working with bound documents.  The odd page header and the even page header are on opposite sides of the page.  For example; the odd page header will be on the right side and the even page header will be on the left side.

The first problem was figuring out how to place numbers differently on odd and even pages.  There is a popup allowing you to select odd or even page ranges; but, it appears to only let you do one or the other.  This would force the user to Bates number the document twice.  So, I gave it a try for odd pages.

Acrobat Bates numbering of odd pages, starting with the number 1, results in the 000001 being placed on the first page just like it should be.  The second Bates number 000002 is then placed on page 3.  000003 is placed on page 5. 000004 is placed on page 7; etc.  Literally skipping over the even pages and placing the wrong Bates numbers on all of the pages except the first page.

My first recommendation with regard to Acrobat Bates numbering is to duplicate the files to be numbered so you don’t overwrite the original PDF documents.

My second recommendation is, anyone using Acrobat Bates numbering, should very carefully verify the results before submitting documents to a court.

See Also: Acrobat XML Tags for Bates Numbering