When I first got my Roku box a few years back, I spent an embarrassing amount of time binge-watching the dizzying array of streaming video I suddenly had access to. One of my early obsessions was a video series on Chow.com’s Roku channel called “You’re Doing It All Wrong“. (I do love me some food porn.) Thanks to that series, I now know what’s wrong with most people’s mashed potatoes (not boiled long enough), how to pan fry bacon properly (look for the bubbles), and why sushi chefs laugh at me (only noobs dunk the entire roll in soy sauce and then cram it in their faces with chopsticks).
I’m pretty sure the owners of Chow.com have the phrase “You’re Doing It All Wrong” trademarked or something; otherwise, I’d steal that phrase for an article series. And I know just where I’d start: Tables of Authorities.
Microsoft Word’s Table of Authorities feature isn’t exactly known for its user-friendliness. Nobody’s ever said the word “automagically” about it. And more than one enterprising software vendor has found a lucrative niche making an easier-to-use interface for TOAs.
I’ve had to use this feature myself on several occasions recently, and I’ve rediscovered seven ways you can easily (and thoroughly) screw up a Table of Authorities. (Need a TOA refresher course? Click here to learn how to mark citations, then click here for instructions on building the TOA itself.)
Click here to learn from my mistakes …
Julie contacted me recently with a real puzzler:
I am working in Microsoft Word 2010. For some reason when I am marking a citation, it will not include the case from a footnote in the Table of Authorities. It will pick up a statute or rule, but not [a case from] the footnote. Any suggestions??Julie
Ooooookaaaaay. Something’s really amiss here. And what made it more puzzling was, when I tried to replicate her problem on my own computer, mine worked just fine. (I actually kind of hate when that happens, because then I really feel stumped.)
Turns out, though, this a real problem that Microsoft knows about. Fortunately, it has a real solution.
Click here for details on the fix
In my observation, if there’s one thing you lawyers love, it’s repeating yourselves. No, not when you speak (except when you walk around the office repeating the same war story about your latest court appearance to anyone who’ll listen); it’s when you write. Y’all recycle so much old material from briefs and other documents, it puts Ed Begley, Jr. to shame.
Some of the problems with all that cutting and pasting are pretty obvious—another client’s name being left in (oops) or funky formatting that doesn’t match the new document. But others aren’t. What sort of evil stuff lurks in that text you just pasted over from your last magnum opus? And how’s it going to undermine your next court filing?
This post won LitigationWorld’s Pick of the Week Award 7/15/2014!
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I received a special request from a reader for my latest post on Lawyerist for a post on how to do a Table of Authorities in Microsoft Word. Although I’d covered the subject in depth with a post on marking citations here and generating the Table of Authorities here (with another post based on a suggestion from a reader here), I was happy to write up a more concise set of instructions for the Lawyerist crowd. One subject I address there that I did not in my own blog is the plugins that are available to make Microsoft Word’s Table of Authorities feature a lot easier to deal with, since it’s one of the most problematic features in Word.
Click here to read the full post.
One of the things I love most about doing this blog is what I learn from readers. People often chime in on the comments to suggest solutions to problems others are having or better ways of doing things.
One recent comment especially deserves its own spotlight. Debbie Leonard Lovejoy stepped forward to help fellow commenter Ariel with a tricky formatting problem in a Table of Authorities. Specifically, this is what Ariel wanted:
I’ve searched high and low for a way to automatically format the cases in the TOA so the case name up to the comma is on a line by itself and then the reporter information and year and the page number are on a second, indented line, but no luck. I know I can manually do this just before printing by editing the table but I lose that formatting when the table updates and would like a more permanent solution if one exists. Strangest thing is that on the “Table of Authorities” dialog box, the example table in the Print Preview box has it formatted the way I’d like (though I imagine that is more a result of limited space in that box than some taunting and unavailable formatting option). Any idea? Thanks!
I had nothing. The only thing I could suggest was to “edit the right indent of the paragraphs to make them wrap a lot sooner than they would otherwise (in other words, not so close to the page number on the right margin).” Close (sort of), but no cigar.
Here’s Debbie’s much better solution:
Click here to learn this cool tip!