Combine Files into Single PDF with Acrobat

In a paperless law practice one will deal with PDFs more often, and it will often be necessary to do things with PDFs that one does with paper. For example, one might have five separate documents that should be kept together. In the paper world, you'd use a binder clip to "combine" them.

In the paperless world (i.e. the PDF-driven world) you can combine separate PDF documents as well. One common use case for this is when one is working in federal court in the United States, and the opposing party files a motion into the electronic filing system (CM-ECF). That motion will typically have several separate PDFs, which it would be better to combine into one PDF that is bookmarked (so that each separate document is easy to navigate to).

Keeping separate paper documents in one folder isn't cumbersome. But managing separate digital files can become cumbersome, or wind up with files becoming disassociated from each other. So, it's a best practice to combine the PDFs. This procedure explains how to combine separate PDFs into a single PDF using Adobe Acrobat (but the procedure will be the same in any other PDF manipulation software that allows one to combine files).
  1. 1

    Video Overview of Process (5 minutes)

    Below is a 5-minute Loom video that will demonstrate the process of combining files into a single PDF, with narrative discussion of the various options.
  2. 2

    Open Acrobat & Start

    There are two ways to start:

    1. Once Acrobat is open you can select from the file menu: FILE > CREATE > COMBINE FILES INTO SINGLE PDF (as shown below)
    Or if the Tools panel is showing (see below) then.
    2. Select either option and then choose CREATE > COMBINE FILES INTO SINGLE PDF
  3. 3

    Click to Add Files

  4. 4

    Select Files & Click "Add"

  5. 5

    Review & Move (if necessary)

    If you need to move a file up to have it be at the top of the resulting PDF, this is the way to do that.
  6. 6

    Once files are in proper order, click Combine

    Review the files, and make sure they're in proper order (i.e. the way you want them to be ordered in the resulting single PDF). I usually choose to move the "main" document in a federal court e-filing up to the top. Once you're happy with the order click "COMBINE."
  7. 7

    Note the new document name

  8. 8

    Note the bookmarks are named...

    The bookmarks in the resulting PDF will be named according to the file names of the imported PDFs. You can rename them if you wish by right clicking and then choosing "Rename" as shown. below.

  9. 9

    Save with new file name

    At this point you can save the PDF to a new location with a new file name. If you'd like to see the final result of the example document that was used in creating this procedure, click on the link to download the attached PDF.
  10. 10

    Learn to document workflows

    If you want to learn how to workflows in your law practice (so you can delegate work easily and break free of drudgery), check this out.
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