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PDF Creation for EFS-Web


EFS-Web is USPTO’s web-based patent application and document submission solution. It utilizes standard web-based screens and prompts to enable you to submit a Portable Document Format (PDF) document directly to the USPTO within minutes. Submitting PDF documents requires the use of a PDF Writer and compliance with some basic file structures, as described here.

Some PDF Facts

  • PDF is a universal file format, originally developed by Adobe Systems Inc., that preserves the fonts, images, graphics, and layout of any source document, regardless of the application and platform used to create it.  PDF is the de facto standard for secure, reliable distribution and exchange of electronic documents and forms around the world.
  • Many vendors support PDF through freeware and shareware implementations found on the web. USPTO has preliminarily tested a variety of vendors’ products, and a list of those that work with EFS-Web is included in this document.
  • There are two software tools associated with PDF: Writers and Readers. You must have a PDF writer to create your PDF files. A PDF reader, such as Adobe's free Adobe Reader, enables you to view your PDF documents.  Because PDF is an open file format, it is important to keep in mind a few requirements for PDF files that can be accepted by EFS-Web.

PDF Writers Compatible with EFS-Web

EFS-Web accepts standard PDF documents up to 25 megabytes. The most common PDF Writer programs that work with EFS-Web include:

PDF Format Versions Accepted

USPTO supports PDF format versions 1.1 to 1.6 for PDF creation, and Adobe Acrobat Reader 7.0.8 or higher for using USPTO Fillable forms

File Naming Convention

The filename should start with [ A-Z, a-z , 0-9 ] excluding brackets and commas. The last 4 characters need to be ".pdf".  No spaces are allowed in the actual PDF file name, but spaces are permitted in file path. The filename can be up to 100 characters long including ".pdf".

PDF Document Size:

EFS-Web accepts standard 8.5 inch by 11 inch formatted documents, as well as A4 size (21 centimeter x 29.7 centimeter) documents. Larger page sizes will be normalized to 8.5” x 11” and may become distorted or hard to read. The maximum page size accepted is 14 inch by 14 inch.


All fonts used in the PDF must be embedded in the document. Embedding allows the fonts used in the creation of a document to travel with that document, ensuring that USPTO sees documents exactly as the author intended them to be seen.

Text Color

EFS-Web best handles PDF documents with black text. Text of other colors may not convert to image properly, resulting in unreadable or invisible text.


EFS-Web supports the use of black and white, color or grayscale images within the PDF document. You may submit color drawings only for design patent applications. For best resolution, images should be scanned at a minimum resolution of 300 DPI in any one of the following file formats: TIFF, PNG, GIF, BMP.

Some image file formats, such as TIFF, permit the use of multiple layers. EFS-Web requires that images with multiple layers be “flattened” to a single layer before embedding them into the PDF document. In addition, before an image is flattened, all its layers should be marked as “visible” to ensure the complete image is visible to the PTO examiner.

Ideally, no image compression will be used during the creation process. (Some PDF creation software may automatically reduce the resolution of images during the creation process, which can degrade the quality of the image).

EFS-Web does not support the use of “Alternate Images” (a feature within PDF that allows for one image to be rendered on screen and a different image to be rendered for printing).

PDF Layers

While PDF documents can store information on different layers that is generated from various applications, EFS-Web accepts only flattened PDF files. By flattening documents prior to submission, you ensure that the complete document is available to the examiner. “Invisible” layers will be lost because USPTO automatically flattens the file.

Object Content

EFS-Web supports PDF documents that contain both text and images but does not support other “objects” such as multimedia (e.g., sound, video, animations, slideshows), 3-dimensional models (e.g., CAD drawings), file attachments, multi-page objects (e.g., Microsoft Excel spreadsheets, multi-page TIFF images), and commenting/reviewing features (highlighting, annotations, comments, notes, and the like).

Because the file being submitted must be a complete file – just like paper applications – there must be no dependencies on external files or resources of any type in order to render the attached image.

PDF Security

Due to conflicts with EFS-Web’s own embedded security functionality, password protected and encrypted PDF documents cannot be processed.

Embedded Code/Viruses

The PDF document must be free of executables, worms, viruses, or any type of potentially malicious content. Files with potential malicious content will be deleted in order to preserve the integrity of USPTO's system for all filers.

Converting Text-Based PDF files to Image-Based

If you have Adobe Acrobat Professional, you may convert your text-based PDF file to a pure image-based PDF file. This is useful when trying to validate a PDF in EFS-Web and repeatedly receiving a non-embedded fonts error. It can be used as a replacement of printing and scanning in documents. First, take your PDF file and open it in Adobe Acrobat. Select File, Print then select the Adobe print driver. Select the Advanced tab now select print as image.


Technical support is available through USPTO’s Electronic Business Center (EBC) at 866-217-9197 from 6 a.m. to 12 Midnight Eastern Time, Monday – Friday.


Training and an EFS-Web QuickStart Guide are provided on the USPTO EFS-Web page.

Contact USPTO Today

USPTO is committed to assisting the intellectual property community in moving towards electronic submission of all patent applications and documents. For more information on EFS-Web, visit our website at



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