How to Prepare Documents for E-Filing

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Before e-filing your court forms, you must make sure that they are ready to be uploaded to MiFILE. Your filing could be rejected if the court cannot open them, or if they are the wrong file type. To learn more about rejected filings, read E-filing Rejection Reasons and How to Fix Them. Read this article to learn about preparing your documents for e-filing.

This article summarizes the State Court Administrative Office’s (SCAO) e-filing standards. Please review SCAO’s electronic filing standards for the complete requirements.

Make Sure Your Documents Are One of the Accepted File Types

You can tell what type of file you have by looking at the letters following the period in the name of the file. For example, a file named “complaint.pdf” is a PDF, and a file named “motion.docx” is a DOCX file. You can use any of the following file types in MiFILE:

  • PDF
  • DOC or DOCX (a Microsoft Word file)
  • RTF 
  • TIFF 
  • TXT 
  • JPG 
  • PNG

If your file is not one of these file types, you will need to convert it before you can upload it to MiFILE. One way to do this is to convert to a PDF. Many computers have a “Save as PDF” option. To learn more about converting to a PDF, read Working with PDF Files. You can also print the document and then scan it. If the scanner creates one of the file types listed above, you can use it for MiFILE. 

Avoid Using Phone or Tablet Photos, If Possible

Many smartphones and tablets take photos that are so detailed, the files can be a problem when the courts try to open them. Currently, the best way to make sure your documents are processed without delay is to use a PDF file instead of other types of image files. Instead of using smartphone or tablet photos, there are apps that can use your phone or tablet camera to scan photos or documents into PDF files. These include Adobe Scan, CamScanner, and Genius Scan. Michigan Legal Help does not recommend any specific software and MiFILE does not require you to use these apps. You can use other apps to create PDFs as well.

If you need to use a smartphone or tablet photo, the court can accept any of the image types listed above as long as they are less than 25 MB. However, there might be delays in accepting documents if they are smartphone or tablet photos.

Margins and Font Size

Documents you prepare must use 12-point font and must be standard letter size, 8.5” x 11”. Each page must have one-inch top and bottom margins and one-half inch side margins. These standards do not apply to documents you have not prepared, such as a court transcript or an attachment like a lease.

SCAO-approved forms are acceptable, even though they sometimes use different font size and margins. SCAO-approved forms will say “Approved, SCAO” at the bottom of the form. Most of the documents made with Michigan Legal Help’s DIY Tools are SCAO-Approved forms.

Photos and other attachments smaller than 8.5” x 11” may be filed in their original size.

Documents prepared for recording by the register of deeds must have a 2.5” top margin.

Each Document Must Be a Separate File

You will need to upload each of your documents to MiFILE one at a time. For example, if you are submitting a motion and proposed order, each of these documents will need to be uploaded to MiFILE as a separate document. 

There is one exception to the rule that each document must be uploaded separately. In summary proceedings cases, the complaint and any attachments, such as the lease, have to be combined as a single file. Summary proceedings cases are cases to recover property. These include evictions from rental units (case code LT), evictions after foreclosure (case code LT), and evictions in land contract cases (case code SP).

If you have multiple documents attached together in one file, you will need to separate them before you can upload them to MiFILE. One way to do this is to print as a PDF, choosing only the specific pages for one document at a time. Many computers have a “Save as PDF” option. To learn more about how to do this, read Working with PDF Files. You can also print the document and then scan it. If your scanner creates one of the file types listed above, you can use it for MiFILE. 

MLH is working to make sure that our DIY Tools give you the option of downloading your forms separately for e-filing. If you know you will be e-filing, be sure to pick that option when downloading your final forms.

Give Files a Name That Makes Sense to You

After you upload each document to MiFILE, you will need to label them in MiFILE to tell the court what it is. If your documents have automated titles from being downloaded or scanned, it might be hard to remember which document is which. For example, if you scanned a summons, but it came out of the scanner titled “img_050920.pdf”, you could change it to “summons.pdf.” Do not change the extension (the letters after the period).

Open Your File One Last Time to Make Sure You Can Read It

Before trying to upload them, open each file you plan to use and make sure you can open and read it. If you scanned any documents, this will help you to make sure they were facing the right way in the scanner. It is also possible for files to become corrupted when you convert them from one type to another. This means that the file is unusable, and the court will not be able to open or read it. 

If you have any problems opening or reading your documents, print or scan the file again to make sure you have a usable file. If you need to use a scanner or get help with any other parts of this process, you can look for a Self-Help Center near you. You can also contact the court to find out if they have scanners available for the public to use with e-filing. A library or other community center near you may also have scanners and computers available to the public. You could also download a scanner app on your smart phone.