Sunday, February 24, 2008

Bates Numbering with Adobe Acrobat 8 Pro

I have just mastered the Bates-numbering function of Adobe 8 Pro. It enables you to Bates-number large quantities of PDF files. Given that most cases are now filed electronically, this makes it that much easier to never see paper in the office. Adobe lets you place a large number of PDFs into one window, reorganize them, then insert a Bates-number into the first page of the first document that then continues throughout the rest of the batch. You can also easily search for documents by Bates number.

Working in a complex international case, I fought for a long time to convince my European counterparts of the wisdom of Bates-numbering. Now that documents number in the thousands, they are convinced of the wisdom!

I don't know how long lawyers have been seriously Bates-numbering documents, but I recently had occasion to review the Nuremberg trial exhibits in the USGPO publication Nazi Conspiracy and Agression (1946). It seems that each international team of prosecutors was using a unique Bates-style system to stamp hundreds of thousands of documents as they were received.

Probably only lawyers could get so worked up about page numbers, but there is nothing worse than collecting useless evidence because you can't tell what a witness was looking at, or fumbling around with mis-numbered or unnumbered pages in a courtroom.

Some Bates-numbering background and history from Wikipedia:

Bates numbering (also known as Bates stamping or Bates coding) is used in the legal, medical, and business fields to place identifying numbers and/or date/time-marks on images and documents as they are scanned or processed (for example, during the discovery stage of preparations for trial or identifying business receipts). Bates Stamping can be used to mark and identify images with copyrights by putting a company name, logo and/or legal copyright on them. This process provides identification, protection, and auto-increment numbering of the images.
Bates numbering is commonly used as an organizational method to label and identify legal documents. During the discovery phase of litigation, a large number of documents might necessitate the use of unique identifiers for each page of each document for reference and retreival. Bates numbering (named for the Bates automatic numbering machine), assigns an arbitrary unique identifier to each page. Such "numbering" may be solely numeric or may contain a combination of letters and numbers (alphanumeric). There is no standard method for numbering documents. Examples of Bates numbers schemes used in tobacco cases may be found here.
Manual Bates stamping uses a self inking stamp with numbered wheels (5, 6, and 7-wheeled models are common) that automatically increment each time the stamp is pressed down on a page (some stamps allow for duplicate documents by only incrementing after two or more presses). Today, preprinted, self-adhesive labels are common as is electronic document discovery (EDD) software that can electronically "stamp" documents stored as computer files by superimpsoing numbers onto them.
The Bates Automatic Numbering Machine was patented in 1891-93 by the Bates Manufacturing Company of Edison, NJ.[1]
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Anonymous said...

Good for you. Instead of a history lesson I was expecting a "how to". Thanks for a waste of time.

Ray Dowd said...

Thanks, anonymous! The help function on Adobe is completely self-explanatory. Go to "Advanced" then "Document Processing" then "Bates Numbering" then "Add". You get a popup window that lets you browse for PDF folders. Add the ones in your Bates series, rearrange them in whatever order you like, click in the footer you would like the number to appear in and add a prefix and it works! Very easy also to remove, just click on "remove" instead of "add".

Anonymous said...

Ray, Loyal reader here...

Thanks for this...This may be a partial answer to a larger document security problem real estate appraisers have in there dealings with the mortgage industry.

The mtg banks often contract third party document conduits that have been caught disassembling, copying portions, editing the appraisers orignal report into something that is more favorable to the bank... hence the Sub-prime mortgage industry collapse...

thanks again.


Unknown said...

I don't think its at all strange to get worked up about Bates numbering, because I am gathering that it's basically a primary key.

What you really are saying is that in addition to being a lawyer, you are interested in one of the most important issues in database theory, how to repeatedly, consistently find a single record using its unique key.

One would think that law firms would be heavy database users and highly database literate but strangely, most Ive seen aren't. For years I resisted learning about RDBMS's and ORDBMS's thinking they were boring but that was a very stupid attitude. When I finally started investigating them, I realized, you can do anything with them, they are the ultimate Swiss Army knives. So now I use the free postgresql on a pretty continuous basis.

Thank you for your coverage of Holocaust-era art crimes issues.