When a sender uploads a file into Adobe Sign, the below error message appears: "Adobe Sign was unable to create your agreement because the document could not be thumbnailed."


Adobe Sign Send screen


This is a document-specific issue. There are many possible causes that can prevent a file from processing and rendering properly when uploading in Adobe Sign web app, for example:

  • The PDF or the file is damaged.
  • The file type is unrecognizable.
  • PDFs were created with non-Adobe programs. 
  • Dynamic PDF is created using Adobe Life Cycle designer or Adobe InDesign and so on.
  • Password protected document.
  • Too many embedded images/layers, or other artifacts that can cause a variety of intermittent processing errors.


To fix the error, use Adobe Acrobat to flatten the original PDF.

What is Flattening?
Flattening pushes the appearance of the signature annotation into the page content, effectively deleting interactive elements, but retaining the visual appearance. The Adobe 'Print to PDF' feature flattens the document and reset all the settings to their defaults.

Steps to Flatten a PDF (with Adobe Acrobat)

  • Open up your PDF in Adobe Acrobat (not Adobe InDesign or Adobe Reader).
  • Click File > Print > Select "Adobe PDF" as the printer > Click OK.
  • You are prompted to save the new print. Hint: Use a different filename.
  • You are then able to upload this newly flattened PDF document with no further issues.


Do not touch anything while the document is "printing", as this can cause additional errors.

Additional information

Refer to Supported document formats for signature:

  • Adobe PDF (.pdf)
  • Microsoft Word (.doc and .docx)
  • Microsoft Excel (.xls and .xlsx)
  • Microsoft PowerPoint (.ppt and .pptx)
  • WordPerfect (.wp)
  • Text (.txt)
  • Rich Text (.rtf)
  • Graphics (.tif, .jpg, .jpeg, .gif, .bmp, and .png)
  • Web (.htm or .html)


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