Many courts prefer text-searchable PDFs; some courts even require them to be text searchable. Filers will want to check their local court rules, general orders, or FAQs regarding their specific guidelines for text searchable documents.
As a rule, if you generate a pleading using a word processor like Microsoft Word, Pages for Mac, or WordPerfect, then converting it directly to PDF ensures the document is automatically text searchable.
Additionally, if your scanning software uses Optical Character Recognition (OCR), it can make your new document text searchable at the same time it scans the document. This is helpful for documents, such as original wills or exhibits to pleadings, which may only exist in paper. It is important to note that many scanners by default typically DO NOT have OCR enabled. In that instance the scanned document will not automatically be text searchable.
It should be noted that OCR technology can be problematic, unreliable, and/or even just undesirable. The software can make mistakes where not all words convert correctly 100% of the time. Documents scanned with OCR can also run into formatting problems. In the case of hand-written documents, (especially those written in script or cursive) OCR is simply not able to read those characters.
Los Angeles Superior Court E-Filers
Per the California Rules of Court 2.256(b)(3), and the Los Angeles Superior Court General Order Re Mandatory Electronic Filing for Civil section C(2)(A), documents are required to be e-filed in a text searchable PDF format.
The Los Angeles Superior Court civil division is now commonly enforcing this requirement. If you don’t submit your filing in a text-searchable PDF format when technologically feasible, it may result in the court rejecting your filing.