Preventing Edits to Bates Numbers . . . now with an Action!

Bates Numbering is the process of sequentially numbering legal documents.

Bates Numbered Page

I’ve updated this article to cover Acrobat X and I’ve also included a free Action to lock down Bates Numbers.

 

Acrobat 8, 9 and X Pro allow you to apply and remove Bates Numbers to documents.

In Acrobat X, open the Tools panel and the Pages section:

In Acrobat 8 and 9, choose Advanced—> Document Processing—> Bates Numbering:

Bates Number Menu

The ability to remove Bates Numbers is valuable in case you make a mistake during the numbering process. However, due to the adversarial nature of the legal business, attorneys may desire to limit what the other side can do with documents.

To whit, this email I received from an attorney last week:

What can I use to flatten Bates numbers so that they cannot be altered or removed using the Acrobat Bates numbering process?

I know I can print to PDF, save as TIFF, print-then-scan, etc., but am looking for a solution that will work in batch mode and not degrade the appearance of the file. Also, I don’t favor using security settings because I don’t want to restrict the user’s ability to access the file.

In this article, I’ll discuss how to “lock down” Bates Numbers so that they cannot be removed by Acrobat’s “Remove Bates” option.


How does Acrobat store Bates Information?

Acrobat stores information about Bates Numbering, Headers and Footers, and Watermarks as "private data" (metadata) within the PDF.

If you remove the metadata, then Acrobat will no longer be able to update or remove Bates Numbering, Headers and Footers or Watermarks.

How do I remove the information?

Acrobat’s metadata removal utility (Examine Document) may be used to remove all metadata from the document. If you choose Document—> Examine Document, this will prevent changes to the Bates Number.

However, this is a bit of a brute force approach. A better way is to use the PDF Optimizer to remove only the private application metadata from the document, which accomplishes the goal.

Locked Down, but not Impossible
A determined person could still remove the Bates Number from a document using Acrobat Pro’s Redaction or Touchup Object tools. Fortunately, there are civil and criminal penalties for the deliberate obfuscation of discovery documents.

Keep a Backup Copy!
Make sure you run this operation oncopy of the files. If you remove the private data and then decide you want to rearrange the order of the documents, you will be in a world of hurt!

Locking Bates Number in Single PDF Document

Many attorneys gather up all discovery documents into a single PDF. If this is your process, use the steps below to lock down the Bates Number.

  1. In Acrobat X, choose File> Save As> Optimized PDF
    In Acrobat 8 and 9, Choose Advanced—> PDF Optimizer
  2. Make the following changes in the PDF Optimizer window:

    PDF Optimizer Window
    A) Deselect all categories except for "Discard user Data"
    B) On the right, choose only "Discard Private Data"
    C) Click the SAVE button to give the setting a name.

  3. Click OK
  4. Acrobat will ask you to save the document.

They’re Locked!

Check it out!

Acrobat X
Choose the Tools panel, Pages section and chosoe Bates Numbering> Remove

Acrobat 8 and 9
Choose Advanced—> Document Processing—> Bates Numbering—> Remove)

You’ll see the following message on a file you have processed:

Window: Acrobat cannot find any Bates Numbering in this file. If you see Bates Number information, it was not added in Acrobat or by an Adobe PDFMaker, and cannot be detected as such.

Locking the Bates Number across Multiple Documents

If you have Bates Numbered many individual documents, this is the workflow for you.

Acrobat X makes this very easy with Actions and I’ve built an Action for you to automate the process.

Download the Lock Bates Numbers Action
https://acrobat.com/#d=hp2lGVFzwyMoNUdu4GSFIA

Download the file to your desktop, then double-click on the file to import the Action to Acrobat.

 

Creating a Batch Sequence to Lock Bates Numbers in Acrobat 8 and 9

  1. Choose Advanced—> Document Processing—> Batch Processing
  2. Click the New Sequence button

    Click the New Sequence button

  3. Give the sequence a name and click OK

    Name the sequence

  4. Click the Output Options button at the bottom of the window:
  5. Make the following changes in the Output Options window:


    A) Recommended: Add a prefix or a suffix to the file name

    Why add a Prefix or Suffix?
    If you choose this option, Acrobat will not overwrite your original files. You can simply look at the file name to see which files have been processed without having to create a duplicate set ahead of time.

    B)Enable the PDF Optimizer check box
    C) Click the Settings button

  6. Make the following changes in the PDF Optimizer window:

    PDF Optimizer Window
    A) Deselect all categories except for "Discard user Data"
    B) On the right, choose only "Discard Private Data"
    C) Click the SAVE button to give the setting a name.

    Tip: Use an Existing setting
    If you previously created a PDF Optimizer setting in the section Locking Bates Numbers in a Single Document, you can simply select it from the Settings menu.

  7. Click OK, the OK again.

Running the "Lock Bates Number" Sequence

Here’s how to run the Lock Bates Number sequence you created above:

  1. Choose Advanced—> Document Processing—> Batch Processing
  2. Choose a sequence to run:

    Choose the sequence to run
    A) Choose the sequence you created
    B) Click the Run Sequence button

  3. The Run Sequence confirmation window will appear. Click OK.
  4. Select the files you wish to process, thin click the Select button

    Select the files to process

  5. The files are processed.

Advanced Batch Options

The steps above rely on selecting the files you wish to process. That could be cumbersome if you hundreds of files spread across multiple sub folders.

Fortunately, Batch Sequences support recursive processing. This feature allows you to run the command on the parent folder and all sub folders.

In the Output Options (Step 4 of Creating a Batch Sequence), make the following change to process an entire directory structure:


A) In the Run Commands section, choose "Selected Folder"

B) Click the Browse button to locate the parent folder.

Note that you will need to change the sequence for different cases.

Detecting Bates Numbers via Third-Party Applications

Our engineers have given developers a method to detect Bates Numbers added by Acrobat.

For example, Lexis-Nexis CaseMap can detect Bates Numbers on a PDF and import the data into fields in the product’s document database. Awesome!

If you’re a developer and want to know more, go to the Acrobat Developer Center and download:

Bates Numbering in PDF Documents Created with Acrobat 9 (PDF, 112K)

34 Responses to Preventing Edits to Bates Numbers . . . now with an Action!

  1. Pingback: legal document Utility - UTILITY DOCUMENT – UTILITY DOCUMENT

  2. Pat Goldman says:

    Great article, but I saw it too late! I am in the reverse position — I bates- numbered documents but did not know about the need to lock the numbers down. After producing the file to others, I then ocr’d my own version and started commenting on it (all in acrobat acrobat pro). After playing around with various settings to try to print out just the pages with the comments, I realized I had changed some setting such that my bates-numbers had been removed. When I retrieved the original file and opened it, my bates- numbers were gone. I’m assuming they are still in the file and that it’s just my settings that won’t allow me to see them. Do you know what I can do to see the bates-numbers again?

    • Rick Borstein says:

      I have no idea what you could have done. I can’t think of anything in your workflow that might have removed the bates numbers. You can always re-bates, but you’d need to check that everything matches up.

  3. Briana says:

    I use Acrobat X. I imported the action into Acrobat. When I select Lock Bates Numbers in the action wizard menu, I get a window that prompts me to add some ‘steps.’ What should I do with that? When I leave it blank and hit ‘next,’ it prompts me to add files, which I do. I choose where to save the actioned documents, but then get an error message. When I double check the document, I am able to remove the Bates number. What am I doing wrong?
    Thanks,

    • Rick Borstein says:

      Sounds like you had a corrupted download.

      • Bruce says:

        With Acrobat X, the lock bates numbering download woudl work on my PC. It no longer works and I have downloaded it again and relaoded onto the PC – Still no joy. I getnatn error saying ” An error was encountered while initializing the setting. Please check if it is valid.” Any thoughts how to get it up and running again. I have some evermap addons installed

        • Rick Borstein says:

          When I get a chance, I will look at this Action to see what the issue could be.

  4. I am now getting an error when using this action to lock the numbers.

    • Rick Borstein says:

      Most likely, the Bates numbers weren’t put on by Acrobat or have already been flattened. If that isn’t the case, try using a different font for your bates numbers.

  5. Rachel Ball says:

    I am unable to download the Lock Bates Numbers Action. I click Download and then click on the Choose a Location link and nothing appears to happen.

  6. Gloria says:

    I use CaseMap and upload PDF documents that I bates stamp using Acrobat X but CaseMap never recognizes the bates #s to import onto the database fields. Any ideas?

    • Rick Borstein says:

      You should contact Lexis-Nexis support on this. You will need the right update of CaseMap to sync Bates Numbers.

  7. Marilyn says:

    I am having a problem removing Bates Stamps. I put the bates stamp on, notice an error, and click remove bates stamp, but adobe says it does not recognize any bates stamps. Any idea what could be causing this error? I have done nothing to lock down the bates stamps in the interim.

    • Rick Borstein says:

      We currently have a bug where if you have also enabled either of the two options for Shrink/Placement that will prevent Bates removal.

      • Denise says:

        Rick:

        Have you fixed that bug. I used the Shrink and now I cannot remove the Bates number from the 2000 pages of documents. Since the new bates numbering does not create a separate file, I would have to rescan all of those documents which I am hoping I won’t have to do. Please help.

        • Rick Borstein says:

          Sorry you ran into that. When you Bates number, click the Options button to save your document(s) to a new folder and make a copy.

  8. Sal Gangemi says:

    I have a script that allows me to automatically bookmark every page. However, is there a way to auto bookmark according to Bates numbering and not page number?

    • Rick Borstein says:

      Hmmm. I haven’t seen one, but I would head over to evermap.com and see if AutoBookmark can do that. I believe it probably can create auto-sequenced bookmarks.

  9. Nick Spillane says:

    OT for this post, but ref Bates numbering. Am new to Bates numbering with Acrobat (using X). I’d like to know if it’s possible to retain the original filename, but to add the Bates numbering (preferably start number of each document, otherwise number range) to the filename either as a prefix or a suffix. Per the options, you can add a prefix/suffix but not the Bates numbering, or you can substitute the original filename with the Bates numbering. I’d like both if that’s possible.
    Thanks/Nick

  10. Mary Jo Colwell says:

    We just got Acrobat Pro X installed last week and I am in the “getting acquainted” phase. I was just working with Bates numbers and tried to remove the numbers and they would not go. I get the message above about not finding any Bates numbers. There is no security applied to the document, I have not optimized or cleaned the document in any way. The patch has not been pushed out to users yet, so I am working in version 10.0.0.

    • Rick Borstein says:

      There’s a bug when Bates is applies with either the Shrink or Footer position options enabled. Do those options separately.

  11. Alison says:

    I am having the same problem as Briana (above) had, even though I re-downloaded and re-installed your Action twice. I also have Acrobat X. I get the same message as her, click “next”, select files, give the file a new name, click “save” and then get an error: “Output: An error was encountered while initializing the setting. Please check if it is valid.” I’ve tried using a pdf that I had given a bated stamp in, then one that had no previous stamp, thinking that might have to do with it. Neither worked, do you have any advice? This is a brand new PC that was set up Tuesday.

    • Rick Borstein says:

      I tested this by Bates Numbering some files then running the Action. I did not encounter any errors. A couple of things come to mind. Try editing the Action and ensuring that Overwrite files is checked. Or, try Editing the Actions output options to add a suffix to the file name.

  12. Alison says:

    Hello, Rick,

    I am having the same problem as Briana (above) had, even though I re-downloaded and re-installed your Action twice. I also have Acrobat X. I get the same message as her, click “next”, select files, give the file a new name, click “save” and then get an error: “Output: An error was encountered while initializing the setting. Please check if it is valid.” I’ve tried using a pdf that I had given a bated stamp in, then one that had no previous stamp, thinking that might have to do with it. Neither worked, do you have any advice? This is a brand new PC that was set up Tuesday.

    Thanks!
    Alison

    • Rick Borstein says:

      I think it has something to do with a bug we have when documents when the Shrink option is on during Bates numbering.

  13. Melanie says:

    The Action does not seem to work as a batch action no matter what. I am able to lock down the bates numbering in each file, but certainly not as a batched sequence. I think there is a bug in the Sequence.

    • Rick Borstein says:

      I think this is related to another bug in Acrobat. If you cannot remove the Bates number on a document, this Action will fail. This can occur if you have shrunk pages or used the option to keep headers and footers at the same location.

  14. G says:

    where are the bated files stored once you have completed the bating process? I operate on a MAC

    • Rick Borstein says:

      When Bates stamping, you can choose to stamp the existing files or to create a copy of them. I always recommend creating a copy.

  15. Catherine says:

    How do I create non-rotated Bates numbering on rotated pages? I know this is a bit off-topic but I cannot find this information anywhere.

    I am trying to create page numbering that does not rotate with the page in Acrobat XI. I need the numbering in the bottom right corner of a portrait page, regardless of rotation. In version 5, we had a plug-in tool for this, but, unfortunately, it is no longer available. HELP!