• Yogi


In my post on differences between physical files and digital files, I have explained why the running page numbering on the physical file does not match with the PDF page numbering in the digital file.

Page-labelling is a process through which this difference in page numbering is eliminated.


Inter alia, page-labelling has two direct objectives

Flipping to a page/section: It eliminates the primary difference in the functionality of a physical file and a digital file. Once the PDF is page labelled, you can instantly flip to a specific page or a section in a digital file.

Referring to a page: When you are reading a digital file along with another person who operates on a physical file, there will be uniformity in page reference.


Don't worry, you need not label each page separately. You can select a range of pages and execute page-labelling at once. In Adobe Acrobat DC you can execute page-labelling under page labels.

Tools>Organise Pages>More>Page Labels

The following is a step-by-step demonstration of page-labelling. To demonstrate this process, I selected a Supreme Court's Petition as this file contains differential pagination in the same file.

The file starts with a cover page followed by index pages which do not contain any running page numbering. Thereafter, the synopsis & list of dates is in A, B, C... numbering format (starting with B) and then the Petition, annexures and applications are in 1,2,3... format.

First: Go to 'Organise Pages'. Select all the initial pages which do not have any numbering. Page-label them in i, ii, iii format.

I selected i, ii, iii format because the remaining file does not contain this numbering. If your source file does contain this format of page numbering thereafter, you can suitably use a different numbering format for the initial pages. Alternatively, you can also select "none" in the style section to not have any page numbering for these pages.

Second: Then select all pages of synopsis & list of dates and label them in a, b, c.. format, commencing from b.

Third: If you observed, each time you select a set of pages and label them in a different format (other than 1,2,3..), Adobe Acrobat automatically starts labelling the remaining subsequent pages in 1,2,3... format.

Therefore, once you finish labelling synopsis & list of dates as indicated above, starting with the Petition, Adobe Acrobat automatically labels in 1, 2, 3 format, matching with the running page number of this section.

If you had properly cleaned your PDF, once the page labelling starts with 1, 2, 3.., you only need to check the first and last pages to finish page labelling. That is why I emphasised on 'Cleaning the PDF' being a compulsory precursor to page-labelling.

If you had 'cleaned the PDF' well, irrespective of the length of the file, the entire page-labelling process can be completed in few seconds.

The following video demonstrates the process narrated above:

If your source file only contains running page numbering in 1, 2, 3 ... format, you only need to perform the first and third steps referred above.

If your file has multiple volumes, then input the first page number of respective volume as starting page value while labelling pages.


Sometimes the source file might have missing pages or might contain extra page numbering. As explained in the post on 'cleaning the PDF', a note should be made of such pages during cleaning.

In a physical file, missing pages or extra page numbering does not alter the remaining file's page order . However, in a scanned file, they affect the page sequence of all pages thereafter.

Page-labelling in case of missing pages: In step 3 above, the first set of pages till the missing page will be in correct sequence. Select all the pages thereafter and label them with the page number commencing from the first available page after missing page.

For example: If pages with running page number from 75 to 81 are missing. Page numbering till 74 will be correct. However, 82 running page number will be shown as 75 in PDF. Therefore, select all pages from 82 running page number to the last page and label the section with number commencing from 82. Your file will now be ready to use.

The following video demonstrates the process narrated above:

If there are multiple page sequences missing, then you will have to perform the same process as many times.

Page-labelling in case of extra pages (such as 73A, 73B, 73C etc): In step 3 above, the first set of pages till the commencement of extra page numbering will be in correct sequence. Select the extra pages and number them in a, b, c format with the last correct page as suffix. Your file will be ready to use.

The following video demonstrates the process narrated above:

Please note that you may rarely encounter pages in between the file which are not numbered. These standalone pages can be page labelled using the "none" style format.


  • A single file should not have multiple repetitions of the same numbering format. Therefore, never combine your appeal and reply in the same file. Even though several courts follow continuous pagination for subsequent pleading(s), for a consistent practice, always place each part with separate pagination as a separate file. More on file arrangement is dealt with in the post on numerical method for arrangement of files.

  • Lawyers habitually take notes in the first few empty pages. Notes can also be taken in electronic files. However, if you add pages to the beginning of a file, the page labelling may have to be adjusted every time you add a new page. Therefore, add notes at the end of the file.

  • If the physical file contains running page numbers in A, B, C... format, while labelling pages, do not use 'A, B, C...,' but use 'a, b, c...' format. If you label it in A, B, C... format in digital file, you will have to type capital letter if you want to go to a page. As typing capital letters requires additional command, use a, b, c... format while labelling pages.

  • Please note that all PDF Editing software do not have options for page-labelling. While investing in a PDF Editing software do ensure that it can page-label (not to be confused with 'bates numbering')

  • Also note that page-labelling may not be recognised by every software. For example, if you open a page-labelled PDF attachment in your gmail preview, it will not show the page labelling.