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Putting Your Stamp of Approval on Adobe Acrobat
By Robert H. Spencer

October 2008 (NJCPA) Because accountants spend a lot of time working with portable data format (PDF) files, one question that always comes up is, "How can tick marks be applied to the review and approval of electronic documents?"



You can create a custom toolbar in Acrobat with tick mark icons using the Stamps feature. Stamps are accessed from the menu bar: Tools > Comment and Markup > Stamps, or from the Comment and Markup icon bar. Acrobat comes with a number of predefined stamps stored by type or category.

From the menu you will see the stamp categories and a custom category called Tick Marks. If you have Adobe Acrobat Standard or Professional, check-out the predefined stamps on your computer. You can view all of the available stamps by using the Show Stamps Palette option on the Stamps tool.

Putting Your Stamp on It. Plain stamps are fine, but dynamic stamps are easy to create and allow you to generate simple stamps that provide such information as a user's name and date, with some flair. (The user's name comes from the information stored in Edit > Preferences > Identity.) 

Creating a Custom Stamp. You may create either a custom static or custom dynamic stamp. Dynamic stamps automatically update information, such as date and time, when you apply the stamp. Create plain stamps and/or dynamic stamps as follows:

First, open the application you will use to create the stamp. Here we will use Microsoft Word 2007. Higher-quality graphic tools like InkScape (www.inkscape.org) create much better looking stamps than Word or Excel, but it may take longer to learn InkScape. Within the application, create your custom stamp and save the image as a PDF file using a free PDF printer utility, such as CutePDF (www.cutepdf.com), if you do not have Adobe Acrobat.

Next, open the PDF in Adobe Acrobat and select Tools > Comment & Markup > Stamps > Create Custom Stamp. First, create a plain stamp with no dynamic information. To create a custom plain stamp, select Create Custom Stamp and then browse to the PDF file containing your stamp. Next, you'll see the Create Custom Stamp window. If you need to change the stamp sample, choose Select Image for Custom Stamp and repeat the selection process. Select the stamp category or create a new category, then name your stamp so that it's easy to remember. Once you select OK, the stamp is created and ready to use.

Creating a Dynamic Stamp. Creating a dynamic stamp is a little trickier. Adobe stores custom stamps in one of several places, depending on which version of Acrobat and which operating system you use. Generally, once you have created a custom stamp you should be able to find the PDF by searching for the folder as Adobe > Acrobat > 8.0 > Stamps > *.*

The plain and dynamic stamps that come with Acrobat are stored in one of several folders — again, depending on your version and operating system. But they can generally be found in the Acrobat > plug-ins > Annotations > Stamps folder. For a more detailed explanation and directions, visit www.acrobatusers.com/tutorials/2007/custom_dynamic_stamp/.

We created a new "Approved By" stamp in Microsoft Word, created a text box on a blank page, typed Approved By, used style settings to make it a heading and placed a black border around the box. Next, you should open Acrobat, click on your stamp and select Create Custom Tool. Go to the Word document by changing the file type to Microsoft Word and select the file you created the stamp in. Follow the prompts and save the new dynamic stamp. Next, open this file. The first page of stamp files is blank, followed by a page for each custom stamp. 

The stamp may look large, but it will be fine when complete. It is important to make the custom stamp large enough to hold the dynamic information to be added. Now, the tricky part, copy the dynamic information from one of the stamps that comes with Acrobat. Open your explorer and browse to the folder holding the default stamps. The computer's path is C: > Program Files (x86) > Adobe > Acrobat 8.0 >Acrobat> plug_ins > Annotations> Stamps > ENU.

Open the Dynamic.pdf and select one of the stamp pages that has the dynamic stamp information you want. Open the Forms tool, select Edit, click on that stamp and copy the dynamic information to the clipboard. Click back to your custom dynamic stamp and paste the dynamic data onto your stamp. To work with the dynamic data, you must have your forms tool in edit mode. 

Save and close your custom stamp PDF file and open up any other PDFs to test your new stamp.

Dr. ROBERT H. SPENCER presents seminars nationally for K2 Enterprises (www.k2e.com). He is an internationally recognized writer, lecturer and consultant. You can reach him at drbob@tsif.com or www.tsif.com.

Used with permission. Copyright 2008 Digital Inke (www.digitalinke.com). All rights reserved.

2008 New Jersey Society of CPAs. Reprinted with permission. www.njspca.org

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