Collated Versus UncollatedIf there’s anything lawyers love doing more than winning a case, it’s making it sound more confusing—well, not really, but you know how legal terms do tend to get confusing. From the use of Latin terms no one else uses anymore, to stretching the rules of grammar to their breaking point, legalese is one of the biggest factors that make understanding law harder than it should be.

A Simple Difference

Fortunately, we’re here to help prospective paralegals make sense of all the jargon one lesson at a time. For this article, we’ll clear up one of the simplest distinctions that manage to trip up even some of the most experienced paralegals and lawyers: the difference between collated documents and uncollated documents.

To be fair, these terms aren’t restricted to the legal world; they’re common terms used in the organization of documents, which makes them essential words for paralegals to know by heart. The need for having two different terms is because some professionals have a preference for how they want to look at their documents, and these two make it easier to instruct those in charge of organizing such documents as to what those preferences are.

Collation is Order

To make the difference as simple as possible, it’s important for paralegals to know that the word collate means combined. The literal definition of collated is “collected and combined texts in the proper order.”

For example, a client submitted an eight-page affidavit in triplicate that the lawyer needs to go over and sign. If the attorney requested the paralegal to collate the documents, the presentation of the affidavit should be three eight-page files that run from page one to eight in their proper order.


On the other hand, the literal definition of uncollated doesn’t require order of any kind when organizing documents. But, nobody in their right mind would want to read a document that has no order whatsoever. This is why when a lawyer says they want an uncollated presentation of documents, they have a certain order in mind.

Using the same example as the above, the paralegal will group all the similar pages into a single file. The result would be eight three-page files. All page ones in one file, all page twos in another, and so on. The preference for each depends on the attorney, but the reason behind each is that a collated document is easier to read, while uncollated papers are easier to sign.

The difference between collated and uncollated documents is a simple enough distinction that competent paralegals should always be able to tell apart. If there are other aspects of the industry that you want to clarify, contact us today. We provide the best information paralegals will use once they go out into the legal world.