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District Court Electronic Filing FAQ

Documents & Links
PACER Live District CM / ECF
Pacer Service Center Administrative Procedures for ECF - Civil and Criminal Filing
Pacer Registration Attorneys User Guide - District
District CM/ECF Frequently Asked Questions ECF Help Desk
Warning: Redaction of Sensitive and Private Information in Court Filings Cross Document Hyperlinks
District CM / ECF Events  
System Requirements for Electronic Filing

You will need the following computer hardware, software, and accounts:

  • A personal computer running a standard platform such as Windows or Macintosh OS.
  • A high-speed Internet provider, such as cable modem or DSL.
  • A web browser.
  • Adobe Acrobat PDF-Writer software to convert documents from a word processor format to portable document format (PDF).
  • A scanner to transmit documents that are not in your word processing system, when required (see Administrative Procedures sec. 3.E and G).
  • A PACER account with PACER login and password (ECF login and password if you have permission to file electronically).
Portable Document Format (PDF) Information

What is Portable Document Format (aka PDF file format)?

Documents filed and stored in the CM/ECF (Electronic Case Filing) system are in the PDF document format. This file format (or file-type) is used to preserve the original layout of documents, such as case files. PDF allows each document to look exactly the same way on any computer at any time. CM/ECF treats PDF documents as originals by using PDF as an archival format, where no changes can be made to the original document once uploaded to the system.

How are PDF's created?

"CONVERTING" TO PDF - Word processing applications can "convert" their word processing files to PDF by using PDF "printing" or "converting" software such as the Adobe Acrobat Writer printer. The user "prints to PDF" and converts the document into a PDF file for use on the CM/ECF system. Best practices for converting to PDF include:

  • Only use commonly-used True Type fonts such as Times New Roman, Arial, or Courier New. Using other fonts may result in your document looking different than the original. Use of other fonts can also increase the PDF file size.
  • Avoid special characters, such as bullets, checkboxes and other symbols. These characters may not be viewed correctly on certain computers and can increase the PDF file size.
  • If you use Word Perfect, do not use the built-in "Publish to PDF" tool. Instead, install a PDF printing option such as the Adobe Acrobat Writer. This will ensure that your documents are formatted correctly.

"SCANNING" TO PDF - When a document includes printouts from multiple sources or charts and/or graphs, it may be easiest to use a scanner to create the PDF file. Best practices for scanning to PDF include:

  • Scan in black and white mode only. Do not scan in color or grayscale. This will result in drastically larger-sized files.
  • Scan at 300 dpi (dots per square inch). This will ensure the best compromise between good document image quality and file size.
  • Do not OCR (Optical Character Recognition) the scanned document. This may allow the document to have searchable text, but it will result in very large file sizes.

How do I make sure that my PDF's will work with CM/ECF (the electronic filing system)?

By following these suggestions, you can ensure that your document will be compatible with the CM/ECF system:

  • There is a 35MB file size limit in CM/ECF. If your PDF file exceeds this limit, then it may need to be split into multiple files.
  • All PDF pages must be 8 and 1/2 inches in size exactly. Other file sizes may be incompatible with CM/ECF.
  • Follow the guidelines for scanning or converting your documents into PDF correctly.
  • Once the PDF is created, do not add or modify it in any way. Such modifications may be incompatible with CM/ECF.

Which browsers work with CM/ECF?

CM/ECF has been tested with Firefox (most versions after 3.5) and Internet Explorer 7 through 11. Usually Chrome, Safari and compatible browsers will also work with CM/ECF.


Attorneys admitted to the bar of this court must attend a workshop held by the court before being admitted. See Attorney Admissions

Hands on training is available to attorneys and support staff. Requests for hands on training should be emailed to

Computer-Based Training Modules (CBTS) (Are available on the PACER website)