You need a word processor, an Adobe Acrobat PDF print driver, and a scanner to prepare your documents. You can use any word processor to create your documents. Most users prepare their documents in Microsoft Word or Corel WordPerfect. You can even create your documents using WordPad, a free word processing tool with limited abilities that comes with the Microsoft Windows operating system. You can also download a free office suite from OpenOffice.org which is compatible with MS Word documents and has the major features of other wordprocessor and spreadsheet applications.
Each word processor saves their documents in their own native format. For example here are some common file extensions:
Once you have completed writing everything you need in your document you should save it. In fact it is a good idea to save often, like every 5 minutes, so that if something goes wrong you don't loose more than a few minutes of work.
A PDF document is an Adobe Acrobat file format called PDF which stands for portable document format. Adobe has created a file format that extended their postscript format to create electronic paper. This type of document is considered a final form document; that is a document format that is not designed to be edited. It is fixed and can include all the fonts needed so that when someone on another machine needs to read the document using the Acrobat reader they can see what you created. The PDF format does a reasonably good job of maintaining the format and fonts that the original creator used.
If you have ever retrieved a Word or WordPerfect document created by someone else and the document reformats on your machine, or you could not get the document to print exactly the same as the person who created the document, it is because your printer, or printer settings do not match the other persons. Acrobat has tried to overcome these issues with PDF. That is why most courts prefer to have the filers send their documents in PDF format so that when someone in the court views the document it does not reformat but displays exactly (or as close as possible) to what the creator saw. Adobe created and supplies the Acrobat Reader that you can download and use free. A document with the file extension such as complaint.pdf is a PDF document.
After you save your document from your word processor if you have an Acrobat PDF printer installed you can go to the print menu in your word processor to create a PDF document. If you press the icon on the tool bar it will use your standard printer and you will create a paper print-out. Instead click on File - Print menu option. It will display a dialog box with the default printer showing. Use the pull-down arrow and select the Adobe PDF printer. If one does not show in the list then you don't have a PDF printer installed on your machine. If you have a PDF printer, select it and print. Depending on your settings the PDF printer will either ask you to identify where you want it printed to and the name of the file or it will automatically save the document in your 'My Documents' folder with the same name as the original document but an .pdf extension.
Some word processors such as Corel WordPerfect provide a PDF output as part of their standard office suite so you might check and see if your word processor supports such a feature.
It really does not matter what operating system or word processor you use as long as you print your documents to the Adobe Acrobat PDF format.
Many times you will need to include some paper documents such as a copy of a contract, a copy of a bounced check, or some other item in your submission. You must scan these types of paper exhibits into electronic format.
To do this you must have access to a scanner. Scanners range in price from $100 to $100,000s. The difference in cost often deals with how many pages per minute the scanner can process. Some printers are an all-in-one type printer which includes printing, scanning, and faxing features. Most scanners that you can purchase at an office supply or computer store are low cost scanners that will work, however they are generally configured to scan pictures in at a very high resolution or DPI (dots per inch). It is fine to use one of these scanners to scan in your paper exhibits BUT you have to make sure you can adjust the resolution or DPI down to 300 dpi. If you leave the scanner on the default resolution it will generate an image that is TOO LARGE in size. That is, it will create a 2 megabyte file for one page. When you set your resolution down to 300 dpi and use ONLY BLACK and WHITE you can expect each page to be about 25 - 40 kbytes per page. Some scanners do not show you the exact dpi that you are using, instead they ask you if you want high resolution or low resolution. Generally the low resolution is close to the 300 dpi. You should test the settings of your scanner and save the documents. From Windows Explorer or My Computer if you double click on the document that you scanned Windows will launch the Windows Picture and Fax viewer to display the document. If the document is legible then you can send that image.
Important note: Most courts will reject your submission if you include images that are 1 megabyte per page or larger!
You should only scan using color settings when the integrity of the information would be jepordized if it were presented to the court in black or white. The court is not interested in being impressed by color because color images are much larger than black and white and consume more storage space.
The default format of a the scanned image is TIF (CCITT Group 4) format for newer scanners. Most courts today want all documents in PDF format. You should check and see if your scanner outputs PDF format. Many new scanners support this feature. If your scanner does not, you can retrieve your scanned images into a viewer and print them to PDF using your PDF printer drivers as described above.
There are several ways to retrieve your scanned TIF images and print them. Most word processors will allow you to insert pictures. For example from the MS Word menu you click on Insert - Picture from File, and then browse to find the TIF file you need to print. Then you can print using your PDF printer.
Another way to view and print is using the Windows Picture and Fax Viewer. From 'My Computer' locate the TIF image and double click on the file. Most Windows operating systems are configured to automatically bring up the Windows Picture and Fax Viewer. From this viewer click on the printer icon at the bottom. This will start the printer wizard which will ask you what images you want to print, and then ask you what printer you want to use. Select your PDF printer and continue.
The court has established a 2 megabyte limit size to each document. Generally, a 200 page document in Microsoft Word will be less that 2 megabytes when printed to PDF if the document does not have images, graphs, or pictures.
If you have created a document that is over 200 pages and is larger than 2 Megabytes in size you need to split the document up into volumes, sections, or chapters. The efiling system has the ability to load attachments or continuation of documents and identify that they are associated with a previously included document. Make sure you always include the main document first when you split a document into smaller sections.
You can include as many documents as you need however there is a limit to the total size your submission can be. The 'Add a Document' page in the efiling process will count how much disk space each document takes and will display that information as you add documents. The limit is 10 megabytes per submission. If you documents are small in size you can include several documents but if each of your documents are large then you will not be able to include as many documents.