Electronic Filing Document Preparation 

Introduction

Important things you should know.
File formats accepted by the Court.
Tips for reviewing your final product.

Disclaimer
This article was written by Steve Winsett, the developer and technical consultant for the Business Court electronic filing and case management system. This Court does not endorse any of the programs mentioned in this article. The Court uses Microsoft Office products exclusively for consistency with all other superior court officials and staff in the state of North Carolina. The materials contained within are the views and philosophies of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the North Carolina Judicial Department.

Introduction

Scan your documents for viruses.  The Court's virus protection is the best available and is updated frequently. This does not, however, eliminate the inconveniences associated with cleaning and repairing infected files. The applicant and all parties notified of a filing in the Court will also receive notice of any viruses associated with that particular filing. It will then be the decision of the Court as to acceptance of the infected document. 

There are two major concerns when preparing documents for use in an electronic court system: Electronic Filing and Courtroom Presentations. 

Preparing documents for electronic publishing is in many ways easier than preparing documents for print. 

The document formats described below have been selected to offer convenient access to all applicants.  Although you may not have the programs they were composed on, you can easily obtain viewers for these files at no charge from the companies that developed the technologies.  We will provide you with links to these products whenever possible.

The criteria for selecting these formats is reviewed on an ongoing basis, and additional formats will be added if they meet the Court's standard.  In order to ensure access to the electronic filing system, facilities will be made available at the Court to allow pro se applicants as well as counsel to convert their information to an electronic format. In addition, the Court presentation equipment is specifically designed to allow presentation of  files and exhibits that cannot be compiled into electronic format.

Important things you should know:

An objective of this Court is to be able to review all documents on a computer display. 

However, there are some important differences between preparing electronic documents and paper documents. You should become familiar with the differences in order to present your information for both review by the Court and for presentation during hearings. 

1. Footnotes
Footnotes are formatted a variety of ways in word processing programs.  Some of that formatting does not translate into electronic formats.  Therefore, the Court recommends the use of endnotes rather than footnotes.  Further, to avoid  formatting problems, it is recommended that the endnotes be typed in as regular text.  Instead of using the footnote or endnote tool, type [fn1], [fn2], etc. at the appropriate place in the text, and then type the note at the end of the document.   

2. Document Layout 

Special formatting
If you use a lot of special formatting in a document such as columns, special paragraph formatting, section breaks and multiple tabs, you should preview your document in another program to make certain the special formatting is retained when viewed by others. The generic nature of most display viewers does not allow for each special formatting you might use for a printed document.

Fonts
If you are using a font other than the generic fonts that came with your Windows operating system, your font selection in most cases will be discarded when viewed on a computer that does not have that font installed. Where possible, use only the standard fonts that are shipped with Windows. 
These fonts are:

  • Arial
  • Times Roman
  • Courier

Tables, graphics and embedded objects.
Be careful of the special features of your word processor. Inserting items such as graphics and tables into your document does not necessarily mean that the formatting will be retained in the electronic format.  

The following document formats are currently used by the North Carolina Business Court.
See also, Business Court Technology Frequently Asked Questions.  (Click on "Support" on Home Page tool bar.  Link to "Business Court Technology and E-Filing Questions."

Most of the following file types can be generated by any late model word processors. We will soon have a variety of downloadable files available as examples of the file formats that follow.  

Hyper Text Markup Language HTML (file extension .htm or .html). Example: " pleading.htm "
This is the standard used by the Internet.  This document was composed in html, and like other html documents can be viewed in any Internet browser. This Court uses the latest version of Microsoft Internet Explorer (Version 5.0)  for a variety of viewing capabilities. HTML documents can also be viewed with Netscape Navigator and other web browsers. If you follow the guidelines of html you can easily check the document you have prepared in your own web browser.

Rich Text Format (file extension .rtf). Example: " pleading.rtf "
Definition: a standard for generating portable formatted documents that can be viewed in leading word processors retaining the author's formatting.

Note:  Rich Text Format may be the best format to use when creating documents which contain hyperlinks.  To save a word processing document in Rich Text Format, go to "File," "Save As," and then select Rich Text Format (.rtf) as the file type.  


Adobe Acrobat PDF File (file extension .pdf).  Example: " pleading.pdf "

PDF files allow an easy means of combining scanned documents and documents composed in your word processor. 


Microsoft PowerPoint (file extension .ppt).  Example: " exhibit.ppt "

PowerPoint is an excellent and easy to use presentation program. The program appears to adjust its slide show screen to multiple display resolutions, providing a more universal application for use in  a wider variety of applications and equipment. The Court software is designed to interact with this product in most applications.   

JPEG Graphic Files (file extension .jpg ).  Example: " exhibit.jpg "


Text documents (file extension .txt example: " pleading.txt ")
Standard text files have been around since the beginning of personal computers. There are countless computer programs that use and read these type files.  These files are the most generic of your options and provide the fewest document layout capabilities, such as text and paragraph formatting.


Document types under consideration by the court:

TIFF Graphic Files (file extension .tiff ).  Example: " pleading.tiff "
TIFF graphic files are not accepted by the Court's system at this time. TIFF files are commonly used by document scanners and outside scanning companies. There are several versions of this file format that are used in the industry, and the Court is currently considering accepting them into the system.