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How to Flatten a PDF File or Form for Filing in CM/ECF

How to Flatten a PDF File or Form for Filing in CM/ECF

Attorneys and other PDF preparers should perform the following steps to flatten a PDF file that can be uploaded into CM/ECF.  This is particularly important when the original PDF is a fillable form or other PDF that has unusual attributes like overlayed signatures, images or other non-text components. 

  • After preparing the original PDF whether by filling out the form or finalizing it, save the PDF in a location that you’ll remember.  (ex. Click on File->Save As)
  • Then click "File", then click "Print".
  • Click the drop-down arrow to the right of the "Printer:" field and select "Adobe PDF".
  • Click the "Print" button.
  • In the "Save PDF File As" window, rename the PDF file, but keep the ".pdf" extension.

Example: if the name appearing in the "File name" field is "NameOfDebtor.pdf", change the name to "NameOfDebtor-FINAL.pdf".  If necessary, change the location the PDF file will be saved to, then click the "Save" button.  (Remember where you save it!)


The resulting 'flattened' PDF file will then open, and then can be closed after review.  It is the new, 'flattened' PDF file that should be filed in CM/ECF (ex. “NameOfDebtor-FINAL.pdf).

It is the process of printing the PDF to another PDF file that flattens the PDF and eliminates the form fields but keeps their data.  As such, if you use a tool other than Adobe Acrobat, simply print the file to the PDF Printer to flatten it.  Should you have any questions, please contact the court ECF Help Desk at either 716-551-1700 or 585-613-4000.