Style Guide Adding Parties     03/26/2004


Much of case opening in CM/ECF consists of adding the names of debtors,  joint debtors, plaintiffs, and defendants to cases.  As cases progress, creditors and other parties are added as well.  Access to this information is vital to the court, the bar and the general public.  When adding new parties to the CM/ECF database, the names should conform with standard punctuation and spacing conventions listed in the Style Conventions for Names section of this Guide.


Searching For Parties


Before adding any party to a case,  search for that party using appropriate “search clues”.  If the system finds the correct name,  select it to help eliminate different versions of the same party name.  Even something as simple as “United States” can cause ambiguity if everyone is entering it differently.  For instance, following this style guide can help avoid “United States” being in the database also as “UNITED STATES”, “U.S.”, “US”, “USA”, “U.S.A.”, or “U.S. of A.”


Search Strategies

CM/ECF searches are not key word searches but require exact text matches.

  • Be sure to use appropriate upper and lowercase characters since the search is case sensitive.

  • When searching for debtors, the more search clues you provide, the more likely you are to find the exact person you are searching for.  For example, if you search for a last name of Grant, CM/ECF may return a list of a hundred parties with that last name.  However, if you search for a last name of Grant with a Social Security number of 333-22-1111, CM/ECF  will return a single party.

  • When searching for creditors, it may be necessary to conduct multiple searches. First, search for the entire creditor name (e.g., World Communications).   If that is not successful, you can search for part of the creditor's name (e.g., World Comm or just World).  If there are articles in the title such as "A" or "The," you may or may not need to include the article in the search.  For example, a search request for The Timely Times may not produce a  result.  But a search request for Timely Times will be successful.  Likewise a search for Timely Times may not produce a result; but a search for The Timely Times will be successful.

  • When searching for a Party DO NOT use an asterisk or star in the search criteria as follows:  


  • Use of the asterisk  slows down the entire system.  When searching for Villareal, the name will be found without using the asterisk as follows:


  • An unsuccessful search for A. & A. Metals might be successful if you search without punctuation (i.e., A & A Metals).   On the other hand, an unsuccessful search for A & A Metals might be successful if you search with punctuation (i.e., A. & A. Metals).


Adding Debtors

  • Add debtors to cases using names and addresses exactly as they appear on the petition or complaint (excluding punctuation).  In most cases, you will NOT find debtors or joint debtors when you search the CM/ECF database. You will have to add them to the database and the case as a new party.


  • If a debtor has a title, add the title in the “party text” box. Any title that you add as party text will show up on the face of the docket report following the name and separated by a comma (i.e., Howard’s Optical Inc, a Kansas Corporation).


Title Tips


  1. The name of the debtor without the title will appear in docket text.

  2. Titles will not appear on notices.

  3. Titles will appear on the face of the docket report in upper and lower case following the debtor name as shown below:

Fred Flintsteel, Administrator of the Estate of Betty Flintsteel

Wilson Limestone, a Kansas Corporation

Catherine V. Jessup, Official Administrator of Lottery Winning


  • Make an entry in the SSN box or the Tax ID box only if the social security number for an individual debtor or tax identification number for a business debtor is known, otherwise the box should be left blank.  DO NOT enter as all zeros when the number is unknown.

RIGHT:  SSN:        -     -                      WRONG:  SSN: 000-00-0000    

RIGHT:  Tax ID:      -                          WRONG  Tax ID: 00-0000000


Adding Plaintiffs and Defendants

  • Add plaintiffs and defendants to cases using names exactly as they appear on the

  • complaint (excluding  punctuation).   Or when you search for plaintiffs and defendants, you will probably find them in the database and can use the information in the database.

  • Add addresses for all defendants (and for plaintiff(s) if not represented by counsel).  Defendants should be entered as pro se until such time as counsel enters an appearance on their behalf.

  • Do NOT add a title for plaintiffs or defendants, unless a trustee is the plaintiff, then add “Chapter 7 Trustee” at the party text box.

  • Make sure to select the plaintiff or defendant party role. If you find a plaintiff or defendant in CM/ECF with an address, verify the address fields before accepting the Party Information screen.


Adding Creditors

  • When docketing pleadings on behalf of creditors to an existing case, add creditors using names already in the CM/ECF database if at all possible.  When you search for a creditor, you will probably find the party in the CM/ECF data base.

  • Creditors (such as Ford Motor Credit) are added to many different cases. Ideally, there should be only one Ford Motor Credit party in the CM/ECF database.

  • This greatly simplifies searching when adding parties and querying cases.  

  • For instance, it is better to add Ford Motor Credit to all cases even if that is not the exact name used on a document being docketed. The idea is to avoid adding  name variations for a single creditor.  For example:


Ford Motor Credit



Ford Motor Credit Company

Ford Motor Company

Ford Motor Credit Co.

Ford Motor Credit Corp.

Ford Motor Credit Corporation

Ford Motors Credit Company

Ford Motor Credit Company, Inc.

Ford Motor Credit Company (“FMCC”)


The proliferation of different names for the same creditor makes searching frustrating and time consuming.

  • Do not add mailing addresses for creditors.  If you find a creditor in CM/ECF with an address, delete the address fields before accepting the Party Information screen.

  • Do NOT add a title for creditors.

  • Make sure to select the creditor party role.