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  • Fixing funky text spacing in Word
  • Making your Outlook emails un-ignorable
  • Autonumbering discovery requests … in five keystrokes!
  • Using and formatting a Table of Authorities or Table of Contents
  • Setting tabs without tearing your hair out
  • Using Sections to customize headers, footers and page numbers

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Why using Microsoft Word’s Normal template is like matching socks

My brother’s a pretty frugal guy. While I’m the sort of person who just walks in the store and buys something, he comparison shops, uses coupons, haggles with sellers, and just basically gets a better deal than I do. (He’s the family accountant. I’m the writer. It makes sense.)

So when he told me he’d thrown out all his socks and bought all new ones, I thought he’d lost his mind. Until he told me why.

Basically, he spent money to save time.

You see, he’d gotten frustrated with one part of his morning routine: matching socks. He’d sift through his sock drawer, one sock in hand, looking for another one just like it. Morning after morning, looking for a sock with the same color, same markings, same brand.

Until he just got fed up, threw the whole lot of them out, and bought a bunch of new ones, all the same brand. (He still got a good deal.) Now he just goes to the drawer, grabs two blue (or two black) socks out, and he’s done.

What the blazes do socks have to do with Microsoft Word? Click here to find out …

The 6 Best Reasons to Use Styles

I had a good conversation with Sam Glover on the Lawyerist podcast recently about stuff I wish lawyers knew about Microsoft Office. It was a chance to say some things about how well (read: badly) many law offices use Microsoft Office.

One of those items on my ideal law firm training agenda was Styles. Sam and I are pretty much in agreement on why Styles is an essential Word skill. It’s so baked in, you can’t possible NOT use Styles, but very few Word users in my experience really use that feature well.

That part of the conversation was going pretty well. Then, at around the 13:08 mark, Sam asked me, “What’s the number one reason that lawyers ought to use Styles?”

And I froze. Then I mumbled something about getting all your level-three headings to update all at once.

Disaster.

So, because I can do a do-over on my own blog, here are six reasons I think you really ought to up your Styles game sooner than later.

[click to continue…]

Learn how to use email better and fix your Word line spacing

Just because I haven’t posted here in a couple of weeks (longer?) doesn’t mean I haven’t been busy! Here are some tips I’ve posted elsewhere on the interwebs recently:

Declutter Your Inbox — Six experts (and I) share our top tips on keeping your email inbox sane. We each weigh in on Inbox Zero and share our best practices on dealing with the influx of daily messages. Click here to read what Lee Rosen of Divorce Discourse, Heidi Alexander of the Massachusetts Law Office Management Assistance Program (MassLOMAP), Catherine Sanders Reach (Director, Law Practice Management and Technology, for the Chicago Bar Association), Mark Rosch and Carole Levitt of Internet for Lawyers, Nora Regis (Trainer & Coordinator, Law Practice Management and Technology, for the Chicago Bar Association) and I have to say about how we optimize our email.

Fixing Your #@(*$#)$( Single-Spacing in Microsoft Word — Confession: I swear at Microsoft Office occasionally. And one of the things that frustrates me the most is a setting that Microsoft (in its not-so-infinite wisdom) re-set in recent versions of Word. Lawyerist recently re-published this article I wrote for them back in 2013 because, well, people are still wondering why their single-spacing looks a little off. Click here to find out why and how to fix it … permanently.

The “I’m SO not a computer person” guide to computer security

Computer security used to be something you left up to professionals. You know, you hire an IT guy or gal, and they take care of securing everything for you.

That was back in the day when your boss provided all your technology. You used a computer someone else owned hooked up to someone else’s network, then went home to watch a TV that had a tube in it. Those days are over.

They’re over because you’re bringing your own smartphone and/or tablet to work and toting a laptop home and using the now ubiquitous “cloud”. Welcome to the age of BYOD.

All this means you need to take more responsibility for securing your data, especially if you have an ethical responsibility for client data (which, if you’re a legal professional, you do).

Fortunately, data security is not as daunting as it sounds, especially when someone like Sam Glover at Lawyerist breaks it down for you in his new guide, 4-Step Security Upgrade.

And when I say Sam “breaks it down”, I mean it. This 35-page guide shows you how to do the essential stuff in under an hour, including:

  • Encrypting the files on your hard drive (I didn’t know it was that easy)
  • Surfing safely on wi-fi (if you don’t know what “sniffing packets” is, then I suggest you don’t go to Starbucks again until you do)
  • Using two-factor identification for logging into key accounts (these days, you need more than a password to be safe)
  • Managing your passwords (that’s plural, people — do NOT use one password all over the flippin’ Internet!)

Lawyerist’s 4-Step Security Upgrade is a critical investment in peace of mind — yours and your clients’. Click here to check it out.
(No, I don’t make any money off this. Sam’s a friend, and this is a good resource. I did, however, get a free review copy.)