Rightsizing Your PDFs:
Splitting, Merging and Unitization
You've received one 1,000 page PDF that includes over one hundred documents.
Or you've received 5,000 pages of medical records, saved as one page PDFs.
What should you do to right-size your PDFs? How should you segment your documents
to be most useful for attorney and litigation team review?
Litigation support professionals refer to this issue as
'document unitization' or the setting of document boundaries, and it involves
determining where one document ends and the next document begins. A
closely entwined issue relates to document attachments: should attachments be
part of the same or a different document. If an attachment will be treated
as a different document, how will the document and attachments be related as
part of a retrieval system?
We offer these tips:
Merge PDFs with Adobe Acrobat. Acrobat Standard and
Professional are the pay versions of the
ubiquitous free Adobe Acrobat
reader. If you have Acrobat Standard or Acrobat Professional,
you have the
tools needed to split and merge PDFs, even if they may be hard to
discern in Acrobat's sometimes elusive user interface.
To merge PDF files, select 'Create PDFs from multiple files, and then select the
files to be merged and their order. Acrobat then saves the files into a new
Splitting PDFs with Adobe Acrobat.
Acrobat Standard and Professional offer a couple of ways to split PDF files.
If you wish to separate a PDF into single pages, you can do so from the Document>Extract Pages
menu. Specific individual pages can then be re-combined into new PDFs. Alternatively, a PDF with selected pages can be created with the Acrobat print
driver. To make a PDF this way, open up the PDF to be split, and select
File>Print. On the print menu box, select the pages of the smaller PDF you
wish to create. For example, if you print pp. 1-32 of a 100 page PDF, you
will create a smaller PDF, effectively splitting it.
Split PDFs Using
Free PDF Print Drivers. There are a number of free
PDF print drivers available. With these programs PDFs can be
effectively split as part of the printing process, as described with Adobe
Acrobat above. Here are several programs to look at:
PrimoPDF: PDF Print Driver
PDF995: Includes an advertisement before printing
OpenOffice is a free open source office program, and
allows files to be saved as PDFs.
Split and Merge PDFs
with 3rd party Specialty Utilities. The file
splitting procedures above using Adobe Acrobat or third-party print
drivers are cumbersome and inefficient. To fill the void there
are numerous PDF splitting and merging utilities that make these
chores much easier. Features include splitting and merging by
multiple page ranges, updating of bookmarks, and batch operations. If you have
very many PDFs to split and merge, these utilities will be well
worth the purchase price. Here are several to look at:
Another good alternative is
NitroPDF Professional. NitroPDF positions itself as a less
expensive Acrobat Professionals alternative ($99) and it will merge
and split PDF files among other functions.
Think Through Document
Unitization Ahead of Time. It's a lot easier to
create documents with the proper document breaks, than to separate or merge
them later. Whoever is scanning documents should be given instructions
as to proper document separation. Many scanning systems accept a blank
page or a bar-coded page as a document break indicator that automatically
creates a new PDF file. Often, document break determinations depend
upon the specific review needs and may vary from case to case.
Attachments Will be Handled. One tricky area of
document unitizations involves attachments to documents.
Should attachments be part of the main document or a separate
document? If attachments are saved as separate documents they
should in some manner be associated with the main document.
One way to do this is with file names, such as the following:
- Merger Agreement dated 3/1/2005.pdf
- Merger Agreement dated 3/1/2005, Exhibit A.pdf
- Merger Agreement dated 3/1/2005, Exhibit B.pdf
This allows the documents and attachments to be dealt with as separate documents, but then associated through the file names.
These tips are sponsored by
Lexbe.com, a web-based litigation case management, discovery production and document review
application. Lexbe.com works with over 100 file formats, including PDFs. For more information, click