Using PDF Packages Header Fields for Case Analysis

Roughly defined, case analysis is the process of looking at the documents in your case and making decisions about them.

I’ve written previously regarding how . . .

  1. Acrobat can help you winnow down the large number of documents in a case using full-text search.
  2. An essential list of documents may be further managed and annotated in a PDF package.

In this article, I’ll discuss ways in which you can code and capture your thinking about your case in a PDF Package.

Specifically, you’ll learn:

  • How to create custom Header Fields
  • How to fill in and use PDF Header fields to code documents, like a spreadsheet

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PDF Package Background

It’s easiest to think of a PDF package as a box that can hold a great many documents— both PDFs and non-PDFs.

Structurally, the Cover Sheet of a PDF Package is the container PDF which "holds" all the other documents.

The Cover Sheet contains a list of all of the documents in the package, much like the Packing Slip on the outside of a box.

NOTE: I discuss PDF Package creation in my article Creating and Using PDF Packages.

To view the Cover Sheet for the Package, click the Cover Sheet button in the Package interface:

Click the Top View button to see a spreadsheet-like interface to the Package:

Customizing PDF Package Header Fields and Default View

The real power of PDF Packages for case analysis is using the spreadsheet-like Top View to track and classify the documents in he package.

For example, in a medical malpractice case, you might want to sort by medical records, reports from experts, insurance documents, etc. You might also want to add Bates Start and End Fields.

Customizing the PDF Package

  1. Click the Options menu button in the upper right corner of the PDF Package and choose Package Properties . . .

  2. In the Package Properties window, you can add fields and make other changes. If you click the Add button, you can add a new field. For example, you may want to classify documents by issue. You can add an Issue field easily.

Editing Package Header Text Values for Documents

You can edit the text in any field you create for the Package header. For example, you may wish to type in the Issue addressed in the document.

  1. Right-click on the document in the list:

  2. A window opens. Add the text you need.

Edit Text for Multiple Files : You can select several documents at once in the Top View of the Header. Shift+click select contiguously. Ctrl+click (Command+click on the Mac) allows you to select discontinuously. Next, right-click and edit the field text for all of them!

Sorting by Header Fields

You can easily sort by any header field by clicking on it. This allows you to see documents grouped by type. For example, you could look at the Source for all the files in our case:

Try Right-Clicking: Acrobat offers many options once you select a group of documents. Try right-clicking.

You can:

  • Add a file to the package (even non-PDFs)
  • Delete a file
  • Use Save As to "burst" a file (or multiple files) from the PDF Package

Frequently Asked Questions about Package Headers

In working with paralegals and attorneys, I often get asked the following:

Can you print or save the text in the Package header?
Not in Acrobat unfortunately. Evermap’s AutoSplit plug-in for Acrobat can, however.

Can Acrobat automatically detect the Bates Numbers in a PDF Package?
No, unfortunately you will have to enter them manually. You can use the text selection tool to copy the Bates number to the clipboard and then paste it into the Header field. It is time consuming, however.

How large can a PDF Package be?
PDF Packages don’t have specific limits, either in file size, number of pages, or number of documents. I’ve opened and worked with PDF Packages with over 5000 documents, but they were mostly short, text-based documents. My experience has been that PDF Packages can be slow to open if they contain large numbers of scanned documents. Your mileage will vary based on the capabilities of your computer.

Can you search for text in Package header fields?
No, but you can sort the fields and likely find what you want. Searching across a package can find text in documents, comments and bookmarks.

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