In reference to the detailed description for my provisional patent application, I believe my description does not need numerical references back to the drawings. Am I correct in that the numerical references are not required in the provisional patent application but are required in the nonprovisional application?

1 Answer 1


While the "formalities" requirements of a provisional application are low, if you ever need to actually make use of the rights a provisional provides, the content of the provisional will be subject to the same scrutiny as a non-provisional. For example - does it teach someone skilled in the art how to make and use the invention? If lack of reference numbers means that one skilled in the art can't clearly understand what you are disclosing, then the provisional will have failed to do its job.

  • George White, thank you so much for your help. I am writing my provisional patent application to the standards of a nonprovisional application however the time that it is taking me to reference each element of the process is quite cumbersome, 5 pages yesterday out of 24 pages of detailed description. Mar 22, 2018 at 9:33

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