Guide to Bates Numbering in PDF files.

A woman sitting at a conference room table adds Bates Numbers to her PDF files.

What is Bates Numbering for a PDF? Get tips on how to automatically index pages fast.

Need to learn how to add Bates Numbering in a PDF file but not sure where to start? Bates Numbering (or Bates Stamping) assigns unique identifiers to each page in a collection of documents. It’s a way to index document contents so they’re easier to find later. It’s most commonly used by government agencies, law firms, and medical practices, where sets of documents can have up to thousands of pages each.

Clerks and other document managers used to have to apply Bates Numbers by hand — a tedious and time-consuming process. But now, it’s a digital procedure that’s easily automated. Here’s a rundown of how Bates Numbers work and a step-by-step on how to apply them digitally in a PDF.

What is Bates Numbering?

Bates Numbering is a helpful method for organizing documents that need identification. Medical, legal, and commercial institutions use Bates Numbering to process a large amount of documents. Bates Numbers are added to PDF files in the header and footer to identify pages. These numbers will often go in ascending order, meaning each consecutive page will automatically have a larger number on it. Bates Numbers can be paired with text or other objects in the document where they may appear.

When should I use Bates Numbering in PDF files?

It is helpful to implement Bates Numbering in PDF files to index content in documents so that they’re easier to find later. You may want to add Bates Numbering to a PDF when a document has a lot of pages that will contain a lot of data. Bates Numbers label and identify individual pages, making it easy for you or anyone else who needs to review a document to find the information you need.

What are Bates Numbering elements?

When you apply Bates Numbering, you assign each page its own number or a combination of numbers and letters. Sometimes Bates Numbers are arbitrary. But they usually incorporate some combination of elements such as:

Bates Numbers typically have a prefix or suffix. For example, a paralegal might label the first page of Mr. Smith’s case file with 0001/SMI. The first part of the series tracks the page number, while the second element remains constant and represents the client’s last name.

How to add Bates Numbering to a PDF in Adobe Acrobat.

To index a PDF using Bates Numbers, all you need is the digital file and a PDF tool like Adobe Acrobat. Then follow these steps to automatically add Bates Numbers to each page in the document set:

  1. Open the file.
  2. Click Tools.
  3. Select Edit PDF.
  4. Choose More.
  5. Click Bates Numbering and Add.
  6. Select Output Options to customize the serial numbers.
  7. Click OK.

This applies Bates Numbering to each page in your PDF. Now you can organize and find documents on the fly. Plus, as you add pages or rearrange the document, the Bates Numbers update automatically for you.

How to batch-add Bates Numbering to a PDF.

If you need to add Bates Numbers to multiple PDFs, you can add them to a batch of documents in no time with Adobe Acrobat Pro.

Here’s how to batch-add Bates Numbering to your PDFs:

  1. Choose Tools > Edit PDF.
    The Edit PDF toolset is displayed in the secondary toolbar.
  2. In the secondary toolbar, choose More > Bates Numbering > Add.
  3. In the Bates Numbering dialog box, click Add Files, and choose Add Files, Add Folders, or Add Open Files. Then select the files or folder with the documents you’d like to have Bates Numbered.
  4. As needed, do any of the following in the list of files:
    1. To change the order in which Bates Numbers are assigned, select a file, then drag it or click Move Up or Move Down.
    2. To sort the list, click a column name. Click again to sort in reverse order.
  5. To specify a target folder for output files and filename preferences, click Output Options. Specify the options as needed, and then click OK.
  6. Once you have added and arranged the files as needed, click OK. Then, in the Add Header And Footer dialog box, click to place the insertion point in the appropriate box.
  7. Click Insert Bates Number. Then enter the following:

Your information is now organized and ready to be searched within seconds.

How to remove Bates Numbering from a PDF.

Need to remove Bates Numbering from a PDF? No problem.

Follow these steps to take out Bates Numbering in your PDF using Acrobat:

  1. Open the PDF file containing Bates Numbers.
  2. Choose Tools > Edit PDF.
  3. In the secondary toolbar, choose More > Bates Numbering > Remove.

What is the best PDF Bates Numbering tool?

Acrobat offers all the tools you need to make adding Bates Numbers to a PDF as simple as possible. With Acrobat, it’s easy to set the number of digits, the starting number, along with the prefix or suffix to be appended to each Bates Number. Not only can you add Bates Numbering within seconds, but you have all the tools you need to adjust your PDF to perfection.

More resources to work with your PDFs.

Now that you’ve learned how to add Bates Numbering to PDF files, here are additional ways to work with your documents:

Explore everything you can do with Acrobat to keep your PDFs organized.