Create a Signed pdf/a Without Scanning the Entire Document

Today, a quick non-Excel tip that may help preserve your sanity when it comes time to e-file a large brief.  Here in New York, and in other jurisdictions as well, briefs must be filed in pdf/a format. Among other things, this ensures that the document will be searchable, and that it cannot be edited.  Many folks will print a long brief from Word, sign the signature page, and then scan the entire document into pdf.  This can result in a very large file size-sometimes too large to e-file.  Here is a workaround that only takes a couple minutes that results in a much smaller file.

1, Print and sign only the signature page

2. Scan the signed signature page.

3. OCR the signature page, if there is content on it (under Tools ⇒RecognizeText)

4. Meanwhile, print the entire brief (sans signature page) to Adobe PDF, and save locally.

5. Combine the pdf version of the full brief and the pdf signature page into one pdf as follows:

Use the feature “Combine Files into PDF”; then drag and drop the two new files (e.g., directly from the downloads folder) into the dialog box:

EE-pdfchoices   sort11   pdf-adobe_combine_dialog2

6. If necessary, delete the redundant, unsigned signature page.

7. Now, convert the combined document to pdf/a format by printing to pdf and adjusting the settings as follows:

Choose Adobe PDF as your printer, but click on Properties before you hit OK:


In the tab “Adobe PDF Settings” click on Default Settings and select pdf/a (there may be several choices):

pdfa-choose pdfa

Hit OK to launch the “print” and Acrobat will prompt you for a filename and location.

The resulting pdf will be in pdf/a format, suitable for e-filing. Despite the long-winded explanation, the whole process only takes a few minutes – promise!



About excelesquire

NYC attorney and Excel enthusiast.
This entry was posted in CLE, eDiscovery, Everybody, Lit Support, Practice Management. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Create a Signed pdf/a Without Scanning the Entire Document

  1. Don says:

    These are terrific suggestions!


  2. Keith Richardson says:

    An alternative is to insert an image of the signature into the word document, on the signature line, then save as adobe pdf directly.

    We have high resolution color scans of all of our staff signatures just for that purpose.


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