Help: Uploading Documents

Uploading documents

Most DocumentCloud users are working PDFs, but our software can work with any file type that OpenOffice supports: Microsoft Word documents, RTFs and OpenDocument files will work just fine. Image files, including tiffs, jpegs and pngs, also will work.

If you open a project before you begin uploading, your new documents will be added to that project.

There are two ways to upload one or more documents:

  • Drag and drop the documents onto the workspace. Note: Microsoft's new Windows 10 browser, Edge, does not support drag and drop currently.
  • Alternately, click the "New Documents" button in the sidebar and select the files you'd like to upload. In Windows, hold down the ctrl key to select more than one document. On a Mac, hold down command. Note: multiple document upload is not supported in older versions of Internet Explorer.

Either way, the uploader will suggest a title for your document based on its file name. You can edit the title before you continue, but you'll also be able to edit each document's metadata after you've uploaded it. Consider providing additional data about each document: click on the pencil icon to expand a detailed form, where you can add a description and source for each document and set the access level. If the files you are uploading should share a source and description, click on the link titled: "Apply to All Files."

When you're ready, click "Upload." The dialog will close when all files have been uploaded. Before you can work with them, however, DocumentCloud must process the documents for the document viewer. Most documents process in less than 30 minutes, but the time depends on how many other users are working at the same time. If you'd like to be notified when your batch of documents is finished, click the checkbox and you'll get an email when they are ready. If you plan to upload many large documents at once, let us know so we can ensure there's enough computing power available.

You might get better results if you optimize large documents (anything over 10 MB) before you upload them. On a Mac, use Preview to reduce the size of your file. Adobe Acrobat works as well. Don't have Acrobat or Preview? Take a look at our tips on troubleshooting documents for more resources.


We also offer a bulk upload API. Documentation of our API is only accessible to registered users.

Optical Character Recognition

We're using OCR software called Tesseract. For an absolutely free tool, it is pretty impressive, but you'll get better results with some of the fancier proprietary services like Abbyy or Nuance. If you have access to high quality OCR, we recommend that you OCR your document before you upload it to DocumentCloud.

What's OCR? OCR is software that identifies each individual character or letter in a scanned document or image that would otherwise have no text information.

Checking your work

To view all the documents you've uploaded, click on the "Your Documents" link at the top left.

Still have questions about uploading documents? Don't hesitate to contact us.