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How to create searchable meeting minutes with Acrobat X

Learn how to create PDF by converting paper documents into searchable PDF files.

By Lori Kassuba – January 5, 2011


In this tutorial, learn how to create PDF by converting paper documents into searchable PDF files. This video tutorial discusses a seven-step process using Acrobat X Pro or Suite -- with the Catalog feature -- to convert paper documents into a searchable archive of information, allowing you to find information in the meeting minutes in seconds instead of hours.

Download the Searchable Minutes template zip file.

View transcript

How to create searchable meeting minutes with Acrobat X

Lori Kassuba – January 5, 2011

In this video tutorial, we’ll discuss how to turn paper meeting minutes into a searchable archive of information.

You can take those file cabinets full ofpaper and create a digital library – allowing you to find information in the meeting minutes in seconds instead of hours.

This template and tutorial wasdeveloped by Acrobat User community member Tom Carson during his work with municipal governments.To begin you'll need Adobe Acrobat X Pro.

Acrobat Standard lacks the Catalog feature and Guided Actions, which you'll need.

A good scanner - Tom recommends the Fujitsu ScanSnap and the zip file associated with this tutorial.There are seven basic steps to this entire process.

Extracting the zip file, customizing the template files, scanning the meeting minutes, standardizing the file naming convention, creating bookmarks for navigation, recognizing the text in scans, and setting up the full-text index for searching.

Let’s begin by extracting the file associated with this tutorial.

These are all the files you need to develop your searchable meeting minutes.

The zip file contains the primary template file titled Minutes Main.pdf, an Acrobat X Action called Add Bookmarks to Document, an Acrobat catalog index, and an entire folder structure.

There's a folder for each yearand a folder that contains a year's main navigation page and a folder for your scanned meeting minutes.As mentioned previously, the Minutes Main.pdf file is the primary template and it controls all navigation and directs you to what to do.

When you open the Minutes Main.pdf you may be prompted to load the index catalog file for full-text searching.

Go ahead and click Load to allowing loading of the catalog file.At this point there are no meeting minutes that are scanned; therefore all of the years appear in black text.

You can start scanning with any year and thenadd the other years as you the time.

It doesn't have to be done in a day.

Once you have scanned a particular year, you can use the Touch-Up Text tool located under the Tools pane and Content Panel.

You can change the years towhite and change the title to your organizations.

In addition, if you select the image at the top, you will be prompted to import your own image so you cancustomize the primary template file.

You can choose from numerous different files types to import under the pulldown menu.

In this case, I’ll import a JPEG for my particular image.Next, you’ll need to bring your scanned meeting minutes into the template structure.

This can be done within Acrobat or by using your scanners native software.Scanners with Twain or Windows Image Acquisition (WIA) drivers scan directly into Acrobat using the Create > PDF from Scanner menu.

Scans slow down with color, or if you choose to run Optical Character Recognition at this particular point in the process.Alternatively, you can scan directly from within a scanner like the ScanSnap and move your minutes right into the appropriate folder and name them.The ScanSnap scans 20 pages per minute duplex and is not slowed down by color.

For example, I’ll move these two files, which have already been scanned into the appropriate folder, which in this case is 2010.A standard file naming convention is an important part of this particular process.

The old Y2K way of naming minutes: year with four digits, month withtwo digits, day with two digits is handy and computers see this as the logical order.

So, I'll go ahead and re-name these files using that particular convention.

This way, if you accidentally put a wrong year in a particular folder, it sticks out like a sore thumb.Bookmarks are also created using this file naming convention and allow for easy display.To easily create bookmarks to navigate the minutes, you’ll first need to import the Action included in the zip file.

Simply double-click on the Action and it will import automaticlly into Acrobat X.

This particular Action allows you to create bookmarks from a folder of files on your system.

Simply open the main file for a particular year, in this case 2010, and run the Action, which is located underneath the Tools pane, Action Wizard panel, Add Bookmarks to Document.

You'll be prompted to add your folder of scanned files, which in this case is 2010.

Bookmarks are automatically created allowing you to navigate automatically to your meeting minutes.At this point, the meeting minutes that I scanned are not searchable this is because I didn't OCR during the scanning process.

For example, if I search onthe word mayor, which I know is in this document, it’s not found because the information in the file is just an image.To allow for full text searching of all the words within your meeting minutes you'll need to run Optical Character Recognition or OCR on your scans.You don’t need to do this during the scanning process – as this will slow things down.

The best way to OCR with Acrobat is to create a new Action to perform this function for you automatically.To create a new Action click on the Tools pane, underneath the Action Wizard panel, and select Create New Action.

I'll then open the Recognize Text panel and click on Recognize Text.

It's automatically added for me as a step in the process.There are several Options that you can automatically set for this particular step, but at this point we’re just going to keep the defaults.

When I click on Save I'm prompted to enter a name for my Action.

Once my Action has been created, it will appear underneath the Actions list.Now that I've created this Action, I simply click on it to run the process.

You can run on individual files or on a folder of files, which is far more effective if you have a lot a scans.

I would recommend setting up this Action to run automatically so you can just go to lunch during the entire processing.

I save the file and now when I search for the word mayor it's automatically found within the document.Now that the text is searchable, we just need to optimize the search process.

We’ve already set up an index or catalog this is associated with the main page.However, this will need to be rebuilt.

Go to the Tools pane, select Document Processing, Full-Text Index with Catalog.

You'll need to browse for the Minutes.This is a catalog file that shipped with the zip files and choose Rebuild.

You'll need to do this whenever you add or change your files.

Again, let it re-catalog while you're away from your desk, which means you can create an Action to automate this process.Now that we have our minutes setup in Acrobat let’s see how easy it is to search for any information.

Advanced Search, located underneath the Edit menu, is verypowerful because you are searching for all of the text and not just keywords that somebody entered.

Acrobat searches PDF text, layers, form fields and even digital signatures.In this case we're going to do a proximity search so we need to turn on Show More Options at the bottom.

We're searching for the words mayor and council.

Everywhere where mayor and council are within proximity of each other we’re going to get a hit.

We tell it to match all of the words - that will ungray theProximity, and then we tell it to search.

It's located two documents with 10 instances.

If I open the results, the bold words allow you to select them and goautomatically to document in which the word was found.So now you've seen how easy it is to create an archive of searchable meeting minutes for your organization.

Thanks so much to Tom Carson for providing histemplate and tutorial so you can create searchable minutes in a day!

Products covered:

Acrobat X

Related topics:

Create PDFs

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Comments for this tutorial are now closed.

Lori Kassuba

10, 2014-12-02 02, 2014

Hi Denise,
You can find the Action on the Actions Exchange here:


Denise Figfields

4, 2014-11-26 26, 2014

Hi Lori, the zip file does not include the action to create the bookmarks. Where can I download/find it?


Lori Kassuba

3, 2013-03-13 13, 2013

Hi Mark,

I just confirmed that the zip file is published. Please let me know if you have any further problems accessing the zip file.



12, 2013-03-10 10, 2013

The Link to is broken. It brings me to and says ‘the document cannot be found or I do not have access to it.’

this sounds like exactly what I am looking to do with acrobat; I need to create a “general orders and procedures” book that is made up of many Word Doc’s files. I want to combine them, index it (or create a table of contents) and make all the documents searchable in one place. This will be a ‘living document’ that will be updated regularly so this PDF will be re-generated over and over as time go on.

Thank you in advance,

Teresa Panther

2, 2013-01-15 15, 2013

I am having trouble extracting the zip file.
Link to Searchable Minutes template zip file.

Hi Teresa,

I’ve fixed the link to the zip file. Thanks for letting us know.


Reinaldo Flen Cuadros

12, 2013-01-13 13, 2013

Me interesa conocer paso a paso el procedimiento para desarrollar archivos PDF y aplicar a mis archivos en Windows y Exel

I want to know step by step procedure to develop and implement PDF files to my files on Windows and Exel.

Hi Reinaldo,

I’m not exactly sure what you’re looking for here. Can you post your question here:


Comments for this tutorial are now closed.