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Reporting Requirements for Awards

There are additional reporting requirements for CAREER awards. As with other NSF awards, annual and final reports are required, and CAREER reports must also provide approval and reaffirmation of the department's endorsement of the work plan and continuing partnership in the individual's career-development plan. This approval and reaffirmation of support must be signed by the awardee's department head or equivalent and scanned and uploaded into the report as a PDF file. Alternatively, you may save the scanned image as a JPEG file, insert this file into a standard Word Processing program, and upload the Word processing file.

To prepare a project report:

From the FastLane Web site (, select “Proposals, Awards & Status.” After logging in select "Award and Reporting Functions" and then "Project Reports System."

To include the departmental endorsement in your project report:

  • Scan the document and convert to PDF or insert image into a Word Processor file. Please review the NSF rules for PDF files and important information on scanning procedures below.

  • On the Project System Control Screen inside the Project Reports System, select the “Attach File” link and upload the endorsement.

Refer to the GPG, Chapter VI.G.1 for information on preparation and submission of annual and final reports. Annual progress reports should summarize progress in both research and education and, where appropriate, collaborative activities. The report should also include an update of other support, if applicable.


Summary of NSF Rules for PDF Files (

  • Do not use Adobe Acrobat PDFWriter
  • Always embed all fonts
  • Always use embeddable Type 1 or True Type fonts
  • Always check your results
  • If using TeX or LaTeX, subset your fonts at 100%

PDF Reminder on Software to Use to Create PDF Files:

  • Adobe Acrobat Distiller (3.x or higher) or Ghostscript (6.5 or higher)

Very Important Scanning Information:

Size of Scanned Document

Once your document is scanned and converted to PDF format, open the file using Adobe Reader. Look at the bottom of the document and you will see the file size. It should be 8.5 x 11. FastLane will block the upload of non 8.5" x 11" files, but will offer to attempt to fix the page size The automatic fix is nearly perfect for scanned documents, but please proofread the resulting file carefully. If you wish to set the 8.5" x 11" page size yourself, please consult the instructions in the scanner's manual. OR, if you use Abobe Distiller to convert your files to pdf, please download the Adobe JobOptions as described in the NSF PDF instructions

Orientation of File

As long as the page size is 8.5" x 11", you may choose either portrait or landscape orientation.


Do not scan at the highest resolution. In most cases, this will cause your files to become very large. NSF is only concerned with being able to read the document. The file does not need to be in color. Some scanned files at a lower resolution may look "fuzzy," but as long as they are readable, NSF will be satisfied. The larger the file, the longer it will take to transfer the file over the Internet, which can cause timeout conditions for PIs or reviewers using modems.

Adobe Photoshop Hints

If you scan your documents into Adobe Photoshop (Illustrator and Framemaker also apply), you still need to convert them to PDF files using Adobe Distiller. The PDF output from Photoshop (Photoshop PDF *pdf) is not the same output you achieve when using Distiller-even though both products are made by Adobe. (The Photoshop PDF uses PDFWriter is blocked by FastLane.) Please save your Photoshop file as "Photoshop EPS" and upload the EPS file to FastLane (or use Distiller to convert to PDF).

If you do use Adobe Photoshop, make sure your document is not inverted (black background and white text). If the file is inverted, click on the "Image" menu and select "Adjust" and then"Invert."

Do Not Scan and Save as TIFF

Do not save your file as TIFF. Sometimes TIFF files produce an error message and FastLane is unable to read the file. TIFF files usually include an EOFB (end of data) command that indicates where each file's image information stops. Some applications insert the EOFB command before the last line of the file when they create TIFF files. For example, if the TIFF file contains 4400 lines, the application may insert the command at line 4368. Acrobat viewers will return an error message when they read an EOFB command before the actual last line of a TIFF file.


Once you scan in your document, save it as .jpg (preferred) or .bmp and then insert (rather than "cutting and pasting") into a Word Processing document. Alternatively, you can covert the image file to PDF if you have Acrobat Distiller - FastLane does not convert JPEG or BMP files to PDF.

Always Preview

Preview your scanned document to make sure no characters were inserted into the document. This happens when you scan using OCR technology.