How to format documents for eFiling in Illinois courts

Welcome to the eFiling world, Illinois! Some of you have been filing documents electronically for years now, while others haven’t yet gotten the chance. Now that a statewide system has been established for all courts, we decided to gather up the most recent formatting rules for Illinois eFiling.

Many of these will be similar to the current formatting best practices for physical court filing. Others have been introduced specifically to boost readability on digital documents and make it easier for court officials to understand the content.

As you prepare documents to eFile in Illinois, here are some of the top formatting rules to keep in mind.

Fonts

According to the Illinois court rules, the body of the text in eFiled documents must be at least 12 point; 10 point for footnotes.

While Illinois Court Rules do not specify a font style for documents, there are certain fonts that are better than others for digital documents. Based on our experience, One Legal recommends using Cambria, Georgia, or Helvetica fonts. You can read more about how fonts and other typography work in your briefs.

Margins & spacing

Documents must have at least one-inch margins all the way around. The first page of every file must have a full two inch by two-inch margin at the top right corner, leaving space for the clerk’s stamp.

The Illinois Court Rules do not specify line spacing for eFiled documents. However, many other courts prefer line spacing that is at least 1.5 or double-spaced. One Legal recommends 1.5 line spacing in documents, as the text on a fully double-spaced page is too spread out and hard to follow.

Format & size

According to Rule 10(a), all eFiled documents must be submitted in PDF format. To make it easier for filers, One Legal’s filing system automatically converts all documents into PDFs before submitting them to the court. You can also convert the document to PDF yourself.

Unless otherwise specified by your court, the size of each page must be 8.5 x 11” and set in portrait orientation.

Each file must be no larger than 25 MB, and the entire order cannot surpass 35 MB. Check the size of each document, and make sure that it is within the size limitations, or make it smaller.

Redacting

All confidential information must be redacted in accordance with usual court rules.

Remove personal information from court documents using tools like Adobe Acrobat or Microsoft Word. When working with digital documents, users must be sure to also remove all metadata, which could reveal personal information even after it has been redacted. Learn more.

Bookmarking

All eFiled documents must be electronically bookmarked, connecting a Table of Contents to each section of the brief. Much like the colored tabs that were once added to paper filings, electronic bookmarks make it easier for readers to navigate your document. It is easy to add electronic bookmarks either in Microsoft Word while writing the document, or in Adobe Acrobat during the final editing.

Need some help? One Legal’s Email to File service can help you assemble your filing, add electronic bookmarks, and review for common issues.

Text searchability

All documents must have optical character recognition (OCR) to enable viewers to search for key terms. In order to better facilitate this text searchability, the court strongly encourages filers to create PDFs directly from the program used to write the document itself. These are called “text-based PDFs.”

When you submit your document with One Legal, our eFiling platform automatically applies OCR, making each document text searchable before it reaches the court.

Scanned documents can sometimes be harder to make text searchable. If you had to scan a document before eFiling it, you might want to apply text searchability yourself, to ensure that none of the words are misattributed and important terms are still legible.

The way a document is formatted can affect how the document is received by the court and how it is perceived by the judge. Maximize the impact of your briefs and set up your formatting to meet all the best practices for legal documents.

Keep track of all these rules and more with our checklist for court-friendly documents in Illinois.

eFiling in Illinois

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About the Author

Lindsey Dean is the Content Marketing Manager for One Legal where she is fueled by coffee, tea, and food for the imagination.

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