Many courts prefer Text Searchable PDFs, and some courts even require PDFs to be text searchable. While we acknowledge the Court’s preference, the truth is, text searchable PDFs can’t be required, and any requirement is not enforceable. The fact of the matter is, some PDFs just aren’t able to be formatted that way.

As a rule, if you generate your pleading using a word processor like Microsoft Word, Pages for Mac, or Word Perfect, then you should convert your document directly to PDF. Do not print your document, and then scan it. Converting your document straight to PDF ensures that it’s text-searchable.

However, some documents, such as original wills or exhibits to pleadings, may only exist in paper, and require you to scan them in order to convert them to a PDF. By default, when documents are scanned and then converted to PDF, they are NOT text searchable. The Court will still accept these scanned documents.

Scanning software using Optical Character Recognition (OCR) allows you to scan a document and make them text searchable. This technology, however, is often problematic, unreliable, and often just undesirable. OCR software makes mistakes, and all words won’t convert correctly 100% of the time. Documents scanned with OCR can run into formatting problems. In the case of hand-written documents, especially those written in script or cursive, OCR is simply not able read the characters.

Conclusion: If you generate your document using a word processor, do not scan it if possible. Convert it straight to PDF. If you document only exists in paper, scan it and convert to PDF, but don’t worry about trying to make it text-searchable.