Tuesday
Feb182014

Simple Steps to Enhance Your PDF

Last week the report regarding the Richie Incognito/Jonathan Martin bullying scandal was released. The scandal is pretty big news here in South Florida, so I decided to take a look at the report. I wasn’t too interested in the content of the report. I was interested in seeing how it was presented, and honestly, I was kind of disappointed.

I realize most people just open this and see a 148 page PDF that was converted from a document created in Word, giving little thought to what could have been done to present this better content-wise, I’m not going to even go there, but one could have done a few relatively simple things in Acrobat just to add a little more functionality to this document and provide a much better experience for the reader

First off, the table of contents could have been linked. This could have been done through Word using the Create PDF function or added in later using Acrobat’s link tool. Same goes for the bookmark navigation. My post on creating bookmarks can be found here.

The document open options could have been set. This is a little-known feature in Acrobat, but you can set a PDF to open the same way no matter the default settings on the end-user’s computer. For example, my default zoom in Acrobat is set so the entire page is visible. My business partner’s machine is set so PDFs open in Acrobat to the Fit Width zoom level. But if you go into the document properties (File->Properties or Ctrl+d) you can set the Initial View so the document will open the same way no matter the end-user’s settings. My personal preference is Bookmark Panel and Page selected, Page layout set to Single Page and Magnification set at Fit Width.

 

One could also make the page numbers of the document match the numbers of the PDF. So in this example, if I was to go to page 24 of the PDF it is actually page 20 of the document. This can become quite confusing if you are trying to reference a part of the document with a colleague.

 

So using the Number Pages tool found under the Document Processing heading you can set the document page numbers to match the page in the actual document.

 

Finally, to really add functionality to the document, the articles cited in Appendix A could have been hyperlinked. I am assuming the documents were attached to the real report, but for me, I had to do a search on Google Scholar to locate some of them. The links could have directed the reader to either a PDF download of the article or to the website where they could be downloaded for a fee.

Again, I am not rendering any sort of opinion on the document’s content. However, adding a few extra features to this simple PDF would make it really stand out. I took the original report and added these little touches. It can be found here. (Note: I didn’t link all of Appendix A; I just did a couple links just to get a feel.) Even an Acrobat novice could accomplish these tasks in less than 30 minutes. This is just a small example of what one can do with PDF documents. Now imagine using these tips on your next filing or demand letter! If you need further assistance in making your PDF documents more user- friendly, feel free to contact us and let us help you out.

Thursday
Jun272013

Exhibit Lists - Do You Hyperlink Them?

Sometimes our clients ask us if we can hyperlink their exhibit list or index.  We are always more than happy to assist.  However, when working on a recent project, I learned of a way to hyperlink an exhibit list in Excel that blew my mind.  I felt compelled to share it even though it may result in some clients no longer requiring our assistance for this particular service.

Excel is an awesome program. I love going through the Microsoft template site and seeing spreadsheets that users developed to make certain tasks easier. I even took an online class to learn more about how to utilize the program. I have always thought of creating links in Excel as quite an arduous task, until now. With a simple setup and file organization you can “automatically” link your exhibit list.

To begin, this is a quick guide and works with linking to PDF files. You can link to other file types, but I want to keep this simple.

This guide also assumes that all of the files are going to be in the same folder. You can modify the formulas to direct the links point to subfolders, but again I am aiming for simplicity.

Let’s get into the nitty gritty.

First, filenames are important for this to work correctly. For this example we will keep it general using an EX####.pdf schema. You may use a DX, PX or JX prefix depending on which side you represent.

Next, move all of the exhibits into a folder. For this example I have them in a folder named SmithvJones on my C:\ drive.

Then copy the spreadsheet into the same folder as the exhibits.  Rename it by putting underscore in front of the file name so it will appear first in the folder. Your folder should look like this.

 

Open the spreadsheet and insert a new row and a new column.  Row 1 and column A will now be blank.

Also notice the “Exhibit Number” column. The easiest way for this to work is to have it match the filenames of the PDFs you have in the folder.

Select cell A1 and insert in the following formula:

=CONCATENATE(LEFT(CELL("filename"),FIND("[",CELL("filename"),1)-1))

When you enter that formula in you should notice that the cell now populates with the path of where your exhibit list is located.

 

Next, you are going to copy the exhibit numbers from the “Exhibit Number” column and paste them into column A.

Now select the cell with the first exhibit number. In this example it is cell B3. Once you have that cell type in the following: =HYPERLINK(CONCATENATE($A$1,A3,".pdf"),A3)

You may not notice anything change with the text, but if you hover over the cell you will see a dialogue box appear describing a hyperlink. This formula is creating a hyperlink based on the file path created in cell A1 then merging it with the text in column A and adding a .pdf at the end. The final part of the formula uses the text from column A to populate the cell with user-friendly text.

 

You can now copy that formula for the rest of column B.

Finally, you can adjust row 1 and column A over so they aren’t visible and your end product looks like this:

 

You could go even one step further and make the text blue to designate that you hyperlinked your exhibit list. If you choose to add this step, this is the shade of blue I like to use.

 

 

I hope you find these formulas as useful as I did. I look forward to hearing your experience with it!

Monday
Sep102012

"We Do eBriefs In-House."

From time to time, we will get a response something like this when we speak with an attorney about creating an eBrief – “We don’t do them too often, and when we do, our in-house team handles them.” Lately we have been giving this comment some thought and wondering about a couple of things. First, why don’t you do them too often? Is it cost? Does it seem too flashy? Do you feel the case doesn’t warrant an eBrief? We have tackled these questions in earlier posts, which leaves us with the second part of the statement – “… our in-house team does them.”

Let me begin by saying I think litigation support personnel are some of the hardest working and smartest people I know. We have worked with groups from all across the country, and it has been a true pleasure time and again. As you are probably aware, they are often some of the busiest people in a firm. Assisting with e-discovery, managing databases, preparing for trial, handling vendors, making sure their processes are the most up to date, and myriad other responsibilities can be all-consuming, leaving little time for additional responsibility.

While most litigation support people are more than capable of creating an eBrief, the process usually takes at least a few uninterrupted hours. And if your firm doesn’t do eBriefs all that often, there can be a learning curve for each project which could add extra hours (read money) to what is typically a tight turnaround time frame. That is where an eBrief vendor can help. In most cases, a vendor can handle a project in a shorter amount of time, often for less cost, freeing the litigation support staff to devote their time to other critical tasks.

If your firm is one of the few with abundant lit support resources and wants to create eBriefs in-house, we are here to help. Our eBook, Creating eBriefs: A Step-by-Step Guide for the Legal Professional, walks through the process of creating a basic eBrief. It is likely the reader will find at least one piece of information that will save time or improve the functionality of your eBrief.  If you want to take your eBrief creation abilities to the next level, we would love to help you by meeting either in person or via Webex and sharing some tips and tricks not included in the ebook.

If you would prefer to send your eBrief projects out, we would be thrilled to partner with you. Lastly, if your goal is to keep eBriefs in-house but you need help with systems and organization, we are here to help.  Our goal is to understand the unique needs of your firm and provide the level of service you need.

Friday
Jun012012

I love java...script.

Lately I have been researching different types of javascripts for use in Acrobat X. There are a number of really cool scripts out there and, from what I have found, some are even free or relatively inexpensive.

I thought it might be helpful to share a few scripts that I have come across or created to make certain tasks simpler or make the end user’s Acrobat experience easier.

Stamping Documents

One site I visit often is Rick Borstein’s Acrobat for Legal Professionals Blog. He has numerous tips on how to use Acrobat in the legal field. I met him a couple years ago at a demonstration for Acrobat X. He is a super guy and really wants to help people get the most out of their Adobe investment.  I have downloaded a couple of Rick’s actions, which has made some of my processes much easier to complete.  I find one of the javascripts he has posted to be incredibly useful, and I believe it will be helpful for any attorney using Acrobat.  While the post is a couple of years old, the script is still very relevant. It assists with the stamping of documents and has the option to add page numbers for easy reference. In my line of work I don’t really stamp documents, but if I did, I would definitely be using this tool. The best part of this script: It’s free!

Download it here.

Printing Based on Bookmark Breaks

I recently had a client who had a PDF of merged exhibits separated by bookmark. The problem they were having was that when they would print, they would occasionally forget to change the page range and then accidentally print the entire document. Sometimes this would result in hundreds of pages of wasted paper.

The client needed an easy way for the end user to print a document based on the bookmark breaks. (Note: They were aware that one can print the sections by right-clicking on the bookmark title and then selecting print, but the goal was to make this as user-friendly as possible. When printing this way, the document is sent directly to the default printer, which can be cumbersome when you have multiple printers and prefer a different printer.) I contacted a script developer I have been following for some time and he quickly created a script. This script goes through the document, finds the bookmark page breaks, and creates a button on the first page of each document that will print the specific section. As of this writing, the script was not yet available on his site, but my guess is, if you contact him he will send you a copy for a nominal charge.

Insert PDF Filename in Title Field

Finally, one of the scripts I use regularly is a rather simple process that inserts the PDF filename into the title field of the PDF document information. It helps in instances when I need to shorten the filename, but I still need the information for other tasks. Click here to download the Action and instructions on how to utilize it.

Tuesday
Mar272012

Wait, eBriefs are how easy?

So you made the decision to submit a hyperlinked eBrief. Now what? First of all, congratulations on helping your judge, clerk or other trier-of-fact easily review your filing.

In most cases, you and your team have put in countless hours actually writing the brief, and the thought of now preparing an eBrief is probably not very appealing.  Enter the eBrief provider.

Choosing a provider doesn’t have to be a difficult decision. You primarily want to ensure that the end product will be intuitive and easy for both you and the court to use, so be sure you have the chance to view a demo from any company you are considering.  Costs can vary and should not be the only deciding factor.  A more expensive provider doesn’t always mean a better product. 

Once a provider is chosen, there are just a few steps you’ll want to follow right away (1 and 2 below), and then you can get some sleep!

1)      Let your provider know your filing date and inform them who their main contact will be in case they have questions along the way.

2)      Once you have filed with the court, send the materials to the provider. Anything that is cited will need to be sent. This includes all exhibits, transcripts, case law/authorities as well as any other cited document. In most cases the files are already in electronic form and can easily be transferred via an FTP or other file sharing program.

3)      Depending on the size of the filing and your provider’s resources, you may see a draft of your eBrief the next day.  Good companies will do an initial quality control check and should also provide a proof for you to review. It’s always a good idea for those who prepared the brief to check the links and ensure they are directed to the correct documents.

If you have a couple of changes, the provider should be able to implement them quickly. They can then either send you the final version electronically for you to burn the disc(s) then deliver to the court or they can create the final discs and courier or ship them for next day delivery.

Pretty painless, right?

Creating an eBrief should never become a difficult and time-consuming process.  In fact, choosing the right provider should result in a great experience that will lead you to have eBriefs created for all your filings!