If your law firm does litigation work, you’ve probably prepared lots of discovery. And you may have wondered if there’s any way you can (a) avoid typing the phrase “Interrogatory No. X” in Microsoft Word over and over again and (b) get that X to be an automatically incrementing number.
If so, the answer is, yes, you can!
One of the reasons I love reader questions is that the best ones get me flipping through my reference books, scouring the Internet, and testing, testing, testing, trying to find a solution to a problem I’ve been wondering about myself (but never got around to examining).
Such was the case with this reader question:
I tossed back a rather glib answer about using the AutoNumLgl field code to number the discovery requests, and she threw in this little wrinkle: her attorneys like to play mix-and-match with their discovery. In other words, they may put in a couple of interrogatories, then throw in a related request for production, then another interrogatory, then a request for admission that’s related to that interrogatory.
Um. Okay. So they’re going to need three numbering sequences operating independently. Back to the drawing board.
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Field Codes to the Rescue
Field Codes in Microsoft Word are the unseen (and often unappreciated) drivers behind some of Word’s most sophisticated features: mail merge, indexes, tables of contents and tables of authorities, cross-referencing, page numbering, and calculations.
Just because they operate mostly behind-the-scenes doesn’t mean they have to stay that way. Savvy Microsoft Word users can learn to harness the power of Field Codes for their own benefit.
Here, the field code SEQ is the winning choice. SEQ is a sequence numbering code often used for things like figures or illustrations (think “Figure 1”). What makes it an ideal choice here is the ability to name each sequence separately. In other words, we can define one numbering sequence for interrogatories, another one for requests for production, and a third one for requests for admission. Microsoft Word will be able to keep each numbering sequence separate because each will have a distinct name.
But we won’t be stopping at just using a field code to increment the numbers. I’m also going to show you how to save the text (“Interrogatory No.” etc.) that precedes each number as an AutoText entry. That means you’ll be able to type just four letters and hit the Enter key (those are the “5 keystrokes” promised above) and Word will finish the phrase for you, complete with the sequence code to increment the discovery request number for you.
How cool is that?
But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. We’ve got some groundwork to lay first.
Setting Up the Numbering Sequences
The first step is setting up the three sequences. Let’s start with interrogatories by typing whatever introductory text you use in your office (I’ll use “Interrogatory No.” as mine):
Now, let’s go to the Insert tab and, over toward the right, we’ll click on the Quick Parts drop-down and choose Field:
That’s going to bring us to the Field dialog box. Find the SEQ field code by scrolling down the list of field names and click it to select it. Next, click on Options to define this first sequence.
The first thing we need to do is name this numbering sequence. I’m going to use the letters “int” for Interrogatory. Just click your mouse cursor into the Field Codes field next to SEQ, hit your spacebar to insert a blank space after SEQ, then type “int” and place another space after it.
Next, we’re going to put in the two switches that are required to make this numbering sequence work. First, I’m going to use Arabic numerals (1, 2, 3, etc.), but you can use any of the number formats listed under Formatting on the left. Just click the number format you want, then click Add to Field to add that switch to the Field Codes:
Next, we’ll go over to the Field Specific Switches tab of the Field Options dialog box and choose the switch that will increment the numbers. That switch is \n. Select it with your mouse, click Add to Field, then click OK to return to the Field dialog box.
Under Advanced field properties, you should see the values highlighted below: the SEQ code, “int” as the Sequence Identifier, “* Arabic” for Arabic numerals, and “\n” to increment the numbers. Click OK to finish.
And there you have it — an automatic number for your interrogatories.
Because we need three different sequence numbers to cover interrogatories, requests for production, and requests for admission, we’ll need to repeat the sequence above two more times, each time using a different name as the Sequence Identifier (instead of using “int,” use “rfp” and “rfa,” for example).
Defining the AutoText Entries
You could stop there and just copy those little bits of text all through your document. But no, we want to make this really, really easy! So we’re going to set up some AutoText entries. What that’s going to do for you (if you’re using Microsoft Word 2010 or above — if you use version 2007, see below for some caveats) is allow you to type the first four letters of your SEQ name and have Word offer to complete the phrase for you, complete with the incrementing number courtesy of the sequence field code we set up earlier.
First, select the phrase with your mouse or keyboard. If you don’t want your AutoText entries to include a hard return, be sure that you’re not selecting anything beyond the SEQ code:
Once you’ve got the right text selected, go back to that Quick Parts menu and select AutoText | Save Selection to AutoText Gallery:
Here, you’ll be given the chance to name your AutoText entry. Name it carefully — for AutoText to work correctly, the first four letters of each of your AutoText entry names will need to be distinct, since these first four letters will be the prompt for Word to offer to complete the phrase for you. My suggestion is to use Interrogatories, Production and Admission as your names, but use whatever is convenient and memorable for you.
Of course, you’ll need to repeat that AutoText sequence for your other discovery types (such as Request for Production and Request for Admission).
Once you’ve gotten through all that (and, yes, I know, that was a lot of work) you can look forward to being able to simply type four letters and have Word automagically offer to do the rest of the typing for you:
Oh, I love it when my software offers to do my work for me!
Don’t Fret, Word 2007 Users!
If you set up your AutoText entries as above, you can still type the first four letters of that AutoText entry’s name, but apparently you’ll have to press the F3 key to prompt the AutoComplete feature. It’s not as handy as the way it worked pre- and post-2007, but that’s the way it works.
Don’t Lose Your Work
The next time you exit Microsoft Word, you’re going to get this prompt:
If you want to save all that work you just did, click the Save button. As you exit Word, the Building Blocks (the feature Quick Parts and AutoText are grouped under) are being saved in your Normal template. If you’re really up for a challenge, you could start a whole new discovery template with its own set of Building Blocks like the ones above, then distribute it to your work group so they can get the benefit of your new-found expertise.
Or, not. Let ’em all just wonder how you got to be such a whiz at producing discovery. (It’ll be good for them.)
“My Field Codes Didn’t Update!”
One of the great things about using field codes like this is that, when you inevitably have to move these paragraphs around, they will renumber themselves.
Sometimes, however, the field codes seem lazy about updating. Don’t worry, they still work. (For instance, if you print your document, your field codes will update before printing.) But to set your mind at ease and get everything just right, there’s a quick fix.
Other Uses for This Trick
What other uses could you find for the SEQ field?
Update: How to start the sequence at a number other than 1
I’ve gotten several questions about how to start this sequence at a number other than 1. Here’s how:
For the first discovery request of a particular type in that document (the one that needs to start with a number other than “1”), use the switch /r to reset the first number in the sequence. In other words, instead of using this string (as illustrated above):
… you’d put in “SEQ int * Arabic \r15” where “15” is the number you want to start with.
And then you’d do the remaining SEQ codes exactly as shown in the illustration above, and they’ll number 16, 17, etc.