With the rise of electronic court filing in counties and states around the country, it is more and more likely that filers will be able to create and file legal documents without ever handling a piece of paper.

So how does that work with physical documents that once needed so many stamps, tabs, stickers, highlights, and redactions? How do you add those markings to electronic documents before eFiling?

[textblock style=”1″]Download a free checklist to make sure your document is ready to eFile in your state >>[/textblock]

The answer

The best way to tell if you should be adding any markings to an eFiled document is to ask yourself:

“What would you do in the paper world?”

The ability to electronically file legal documents is an incredibly useful tool. But the digital document requirements are usually enhancements of the physical filing rules, rather than replacements.

So, if you are creating a document that would have required a stamp when it was being physically filed, then the chances are that the same detail will be needed on the digital document.

And before you go to the trouble of printing your brief to stamp it before scanning it again (please don’t do that to yourself!), you should know that tools like Adobe Acrobat make it easy to add markings to your pages electronically.

How to add stamps or stickers

Need to confirm that a document is approved? Mark it as a draft? It’s easy to do this in an eye-catching and official way right on the digital page.

Adobe Acrobat Pro DC has a handy tool perfect for legal professionals who need to stamp legal documents. Select:
Adobe stamp tool

Then choose the stamp that fits your document.

Adobe stamps

Want to design a stamp with your own message, branding, or colors on it? Adobe has a useful article on how to create stamps that will work with the needs of your law firm.

Yet another reason choosing the right PDF editing software can be so critical to your eFiling success.

How to highlight legal documents

Any special formatting or markings that you include on a PDF to be eFiled will be preserved exactly as you created it, highlights included.

Simply highlight the desired phrases using the features in your word processing program:

Word highlight

One confusion regarding how highlighting shows up on legal documents may be due to the processes of physical filing. Given that the majority of legal documents are black and white, many court filing fulfillment centers only have the capability to print and deliver documents in black and white. This would negate any highlights on a physically filed document.

But with eFiling, this limitation is removed, allowing for the complete transmission of your documents from firm to clerk.

Adding other markings to documents

Filing a document with confidential information? Learn how to redact information in legal documents for eFiling. Be sure that you’ve also removed metadata from documents that may contain sensitive information.

Most courts require documents to have electronic bookmarks to aid in navigating the document. Read more about adding electronic bookmarks to legal documents.

Want to make sure you’re adhering to the top formatting rules for eFiled documents? Download the complete eFiling document checklist for your state.


What tricks have you learned while managing documents before eFiling to make sure that your orders are accepted and kept organized? Share your tips in the comments.

Beginner's guide to eFiling

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