CM/ECF Formatting Standards

 

FORMATTING STANDARDS

  • General CM/ECF Information
  • Creating a New Debtor
  • Add/Create Party Information
  • Add/Create Creditor Information
  • Foreign Addresses

 

I. General CM/ECF Information

A. CM/ECF Logins

1. Logins for CM/ECF are issued by the Court and cannot be changed by the user.

2. They are case sensitive.

B. CM/ECF Passwords

1. Passwords are issued by the Court and can be changed by the user.  See the section on Maintain Your ECF Account

2. They are case sensitive.

3. Passwords must be at least eight (8) characters in length.

4. Passwords must include:

a) An upper case letter;

b) A lower case letter; and

c) A digit.

C. Case Number Formats

1. Bankruptcy cases use the format O-YY-bk-NNNNN.

2. Adversary proceedings used the format O-YY-ap-NNNNN.

D. Date Fields

1. Dates can be selected using the calendar graphic in CM/ECF or manually entered.

2. Manually entered dates should be formatted as either mm/dd/yyyy OR mm/dd/yy.

E. Time Fields

1. Times can be selected using the clock graphic in CM/ECF or manually entered.

2. Manually entered times should be in the hh:mm format followed by AM or PM

F. Official United States Postal Service (USPS) Abbreviations

1. When entering addresses with abbreviations in CM/ECF, official USPS abbreviations are to be used.

2. A list of official USPS abbreviations for States, Territories, Street Suffixes and Secondary Units are available on the USPS website at https://www.usps.com/send/official-abbreviations.htm.  

  

Important Note regarding Addresses:
The USPS routes an envelope by reading the address from the bottom right to the top left. 
ALL addresses should be entered with this in mind. 

The USPS looks at Zip Code then moves to the left to the State then further to the left to the City, ALL of which should be on the last line except if it is a foreign address. See step V. Foreign Addresses

Then it reads up to the previous line which should contain any PO Box information. 
Then it reads up to the previous line which should contain Street Address information.
Then it reads up to the previous line which should contain Building Name information.

   

G. Invalid Special Characters

1. The following special characters ARE NOT to be used in names or addresses in CM/ECF.

 

Special Character

 

%

Must be spelled out as  percent  or use  c/o  for  care of

@

Must be spelled out as at

&

Must be spelled out as and except if it is used in a company name that has a single letter and space before and after it (ex. L & H).  These situations are permissible but the space before and after the ampersand must be removed (ex. L&H) due to CM/ECF searching requirements.

#

Must be spelled out as pound or number

~

Do not use

$

Do not use

“  ”

Do not use

‘  ’

Do not use

[  ]

Do not use

{  }

Do not use

^

Do not use

|

Do not use

 

II. Creating a New Debtor

A. General Information

1. Any field that is used should not have any space at the beginning of it.

2. Do not use special characters in name or address fields.  See step I. G. Invalid Special Characters

3. Names and addresses are to be entered using Initial Capital Letter formatting (ex. John Smith).

B. Entering Names

1. Individuals

a) The “First name”, “Last name” and “Middle name” fields are to begin with the first letter capitalized and the remainder in lowercase (ex. John D. Smith).

b) Suffixes should be entered at the end of the “Last name” field (ex. John D. Smith, DDS).

c) Generations (i.e., Jr., III) should be entered in the “Generation” field (ex. John D. Smith, Jr).

d) The “Title” field is not  to be used.  Titles should be entered at the beginning of the “First name” field (ex. Dr. John D. Smith).

2. Businesses

a) The entire business name should be entered in the “Last name” field. 

b) If the business name contains an ampersand symbol between two words (ex. Cameron & Blake), it should be spelled out as “and” (ex. Cameron and Blake). 

c) If the business name contains an ampersand symbol between two initials (ex. J & J Trucking), it can remain but cannot have spaces before or after it (ex. J&J Trucking). 

C. Social Security Number (SSN)/Individual Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN)

1. This field must be entered in a 9-digit format with the hyphens (ex. nnn-nn-nnnn).

2. A maximum of five (5) SSN/ITIN numbers can be entered for each debtor.

D. TaxId/Employer Identification Number (EIN)

1. This field must be entered in a 9-digit format with the hyphen (ex.  nn-nnnnnnn).

E. Address

1. If the debtor’s street and mailing addresses are different, enter the mailing address.

2. If the debtor has both a street address and a post office box, enter both addresses if space allows.  If space is limited, only enter the post office address.

3. Abbreviations used in addresses for streets and secondary units should conform with Official USPS Abbreviations.  See step I. F. Official USPS Abbreviations.

 F. Zip Code

1. The zip code should be entered in a 5 or 9-digit format. 

2. The USPS website allows for zip codes to be verified by entering the street address, city and state.  See – Look Up a Zip Code on the USPS website.

3. On foreign cases where the county code is “OUTSIDE U.S. (99999)”, any combination of numbers, letters and blanks will load.

G. County

1. The county code used should be the county of residence of an individual debtor at the time of filing; if a non-individual debtor, it may be the county code of the entity’s home office or a place of significant business activity. 

2. Only counties for the state entered for the debtor’s address will appear for selection.

3. The county “OUTSIDE U.S. (99999)” is only to be used when the debtor’s residence is outside of the United States.

H. Country

1. Only to be used when the debtor does not reside in the United States of America.  The country is to be entered in all CAPITAL LETTERS.

I. Phone, Fax and Email

1. These fields are not required to be completed for the debtor.

J. Party Text

1. Information entered in this field appears on the docket header but will not appear in the docket text or on notices.

2. This field is to be used when a party is acting in the capacity of a trustee or if additional information for the party name needs to be included (ex.  Administrator of the Estate of John D. Smith).

 

III. Add/Create Party Information

A. General Information

1. CM/ECF has a database that contains ALL of the parties that are associated with EVERY case.

2. Parties are added to the CM/ECF database and to cases when documents are filed in a case either by them or their attorney.

3. Party records can have an address or simply be Last/Business name and First name.

4. If the party does not exist in the case, then filers must select “Add/Create New Party” and search the CM/ECF database to see if a party record exists for that party which can be added to the case.

B. Searching for Parties

1. It is recommended that searches be done on either SSN/ITIN or Last/Business name, but not both.

2. The Last/Business name field requires at least two (2) characters to be entered. 

3. Searches by names should be partial (i.e., only first few letters).  An * can be used as a wildcard in between letters (ex. Sm*h).

 

Sample Types of Searches

Type of Party

   Last/Business Name          |      First name

Party is the United States of America

USA

U.S.A.

United States

 

Party has multiple names

Fisher Miller

Miller

Rob

Rob

Party has hyphenated name

Smith-Baker

Baker

Mary

Mary

Party is a business with an & in its name

Cameron & Blake

Cameron and Blake

J&J
J.&J.

 

Party is a business with Company or Corporation in its name

Ford Motor Co

 

 

4. Review ALL of the search results to see if a party already exists in CM/ECF with the same address. 

a) If one does, select that party and choose “Select name from list” to add that party to the case.  See step III. C. Adding an Existing Party from CM/ECF to a Case

b) If a party with the same name and address does not exist, select “Create new party”.  See step III. D. Creating a New Party

 

C. Adding an Existing Party from CM/ECF to a Case

1. A “Role” must be selected for the party.

2. “Email” information should not be entered for parties. 

D. Creating a New Party

1. General Information

a) A “Role” must be selected for the party.

b) “Email” information should not be entered for parties.

c) A party can have an address or simply be Last/Business name and First name. Any field that is used should not have any space at the beginning of it.

d) Do NOT use special characters in name or address fields.  See step I. G. Invalid Special Characters

e) Names and addresses are to be entered using Initial Capital Letter formatting (ex. John Smith).

2. Entering Names

a) Individuals

(1) The “First name”, “Last name” and “Middle name” fields are to begin with the first letter capitalized and the remainder in lowercase (ex. John David Smith).

(2) Suffixes should be entered at the end of the “Last name” field (ex. John D. Smith, DDS).

(3) Generations (i.e., Jr., III) should be entered in the “Generation” field (ex. John D. Smith, Jr).

(4) The “Title” field is not  to be used.  Titles should be entered at the beginning of the “First name” field (ex. Dr. John D. Smith).

b) Businesses

(1) The entire business name should be entered in the “Last name” field.

(2) If the business name contains an ampersand symbol between two words (ex. Cameron & Blake), it should be spelled out as “and” (ex. Cameron and Blake). 

(3) If the business name contains an ampersand symbol between two initials (ex. J & J Trucking), it can remain but cannot have spaces before or after it (ex. J&J Trucking).

3. Entering Address, City, State and Zip Code

a) If the party has both a street address and a post office box, enter both addresses if space allows.  If space is limited, only enter the post office address.

b) Use c/o to indicate “in care of” and not the percent (%) symbol.

c) Abbreviations used in addresses for streets and secondary units should conform with Official USPS Abbreviations.  See step I. F. Official USPS Abbreviations

d) The zip code should be entered in a 5 or 9-digit format. 

e) The USPS website allows for zip codes to be verified by entering the street address, city and state.  See – Look Up a Zip Code on the USPS website.

f) If the party has a foreign address, do not enter data in the City, State and Zip Code fields.  See step V. Foreign Addresses

 

IV. Add/Create Creditor Information

A. General Information

1. Creditors are stored in a separate record from the parties associated with a case.

2. Creditors  can be entered into CM/ECF individually (see the section on Entering Creditors Individually into CM/ECF) or uploaded as a text (.txt) file (see the section on List of Creditors (Matrix) – Uploading Creditors ).

B. Name and Address

1. Do NOT use special characters in name or address fields.  See step I. G. Invalid Special Characters

2. Names and addresses are to be entered using Initial Capital Letter formatting (ex. John Smith).

3. Abbreviations used in addresses for streets and secondary units should conform with Official USPS Abbreviations.  See – Section I.F. Official USPS Abbreviations

4. The name and address (together) for each creditor cannot be more than six (6) lines.

a) First line is to be the creditor name (maximum of fifty (50) characters).

b) Address can be no more than five (5) lines (maximum of forty (40) characters each line).

c) The last address line must contain the city, state and zip code, except if it is a foreign address.  See step V. Foreign Addresses

d) Each line must begin with a letter or a digit.

  

Example of how a creditor name and address should be entered:

Name (1 line only)                  Creditor Name
Address 1                                Apt. 6
Address 2                                Geiger Building
Address 3                                123 Walnut St
Address 4                                PO Box 1111
Address 5                                Harrisburg, PA 17101-1111

   

5. Account numbers should never be on the first or last line of a creditor’s address.

6. Multiple creditor names and addresses may be entered with a blank line separating them.

 V. Foreign Addresses

A. The last address line of  a foreign address must  have the country name or APO destination in all CAPITAL LETTERS.

B. Foreign addresses should conform with Official USPS guidelines.  See USPS website for International or APO/FPO/DPO