Basic Word Skills for Legal Professionals

Are you:

  • An ex-WordPerfect user coming to Microsoft Word with some trepidation?
  • A solo practitioner running your law practice sans assistant?
  • A paralegal, legal assistant or other law office staff member who’s being crushed under a heavy workload in the face of layoffs or hiring freezes?

Whether you’ve worked with Microsoft Word for a while or are brand new to it, it could seem as though Word is designed to be intimidating. All those buttons across the top and dialog boxes and menus … what are you supposed to do with all that?

If you work in a law office, you probably spend a large percentage of your day sitting in front of a computer, and what time you don’t spend sending emails is spent with Microsoft Word. After all, so much of legal practice involves creating and editing documents.

But just because you use something every day doesn’t mean you’re getting the most out of it. And with the way law practice is changing these days, you can’t afford to miss any opportunities to extract the maximum performance and productivity out of the tools you use every day.

Think about the last document you edited. How much time did you spend looking for certain features or struggling with the bad formatting that someone else put there?

Considering how much of your day is spent in front of Microsoft Word, and how important efficiency is becoming in law offices everywhere, doesn’t it make sense to learn how to use this tool well so that you can deal successfully with your ever-increasing workload?

Why most Word training is a waste of time

Oh, you’ve tried to learn Microsoft Word on your own. You took that all-day training class your firm offered, only to be so overwhelmed you forgot most of it by the time you got back to your desk.

Or, you bought a book. But you’re too busy actually working to read a manual. Or maybe you’ve searched for help online, only to find confusing and conflicting instructions.

You’re not the problem – the training is

You see, traditional ways of learning how to use software set you up to fail. Classroom instruction dumps too much information on you all at once. Most software manuals are reference books for experienced users, not instructions for beginners.

And searching for help online? Forget it. Even a simple search brings back screen after screen of confusing (and often outright wrong) instructions.

Where can you get the help you really need?

You know you need to update your skills to do your job better. After all, it’s frustrating (and time-consuming) to struggle with even basic tasks in Microsoft Word. If only someone could take you by the hand and show you, step-by-step, how to make Microsoft Word do your bidding (and maybe even translate your WordPerfect tasks to Microsoft Word) . . .

Here’s what we’ll cover in the course

  • I don’t want to make any assumptions about what skill and knowledge level you’re currently at; and
  • You’d be surprised how many time-saving tricks you can pick up by truly understanding how Word works from the ground up.

“First lesson came in really handy …”

Your first lesson about the ribbon came in very handy when I had a formatting problem and spacing problem. By hitting the little arrow in the lower right corner on Indent and Spacing Section of the Page Layout tab, I discovered that the problem text was centered or justified (I don’t remember which) which caused a line with a few words to be spread out with wide gaps between each word. THANKS!

So here’s exactly what you’ll be learning in this course:

A complete tour of the Ribbon interface

I’ll show you (in 6 lessons) some key things you’ll need to know going forward in the course, such as what Microsoft calls certain Ribbon features (e.g., launcher arrows, etc.). Plus, how to hide/unhide the Ribbon, add commands to your Quick Access Toolbar, and navigate quickly through your document with the mouse or keyboard. We’ll also cover the Backstage View, where you can not only print your documents but also set up Word to work with you rather than against you. (That’s the goal, right?)

Total video lesson time: 35 mins.

Working with Documents: The Basics

These 7 lessons will cover everything from starting with a blank document, beginning with a template, saving your document, opening existing documents, and basic typing and editing. (I wasn’t kidding about starting from scratch!) 

I’ll also show you how to insert special characters like ¶ or § or ° (and even set up some shortcut keys for future use) and some tricks for copying/moving text around without messing up your existing formatting.

Total video lesson time: 34 mins.

Formatting Basics

Here’s where the rubber really meets the road for most Word (users (especially those coming from WordPerfect): formatting. Within these 8 lessons, we’ll cover page formatting (portrait vs. landscape orientation, margins, etc.), paragraph formatting (justification, line spacing, etc.), and character formatting (font, size, italics/bold/underline, etc.). Plus, how to keep certain text on a particular page, how to insert and edit headers and footers, and how to put a watermark behind your text.

Total video lesson time: 53 mins.

Tables & Columns

Sometimes, you have to arrange text side-by-side. For that, word has tables and columns. But which do you use when? I’ve got 12 lessons  that will show you all the ins and outs of inserting  and modifying tables; adding, deleting, splitting and merging table rows, columns &cells; changing table margins & borders; sorting rows and setting a header row to repeat on all pages, and converting text to table and vice versa. Plus, you’ll also learn about configuring side-by-side columns, even in the middle of your document.

Total video lesson time: 40 mins.

Footnotes & Endnotes

Inserting a footnote (or endnote) is pretty straightforward: go to the References tab and click Insert Footnote (or Insert Endnote). But then what? Within these 4 lessons, we’ll cover troubleshooting long footnote formatting issues, reformatting the separator line and continuation message, working with converted WordPerfect footnotes, and using the Footnote Text and Footnote Number Styles to globally fix formatting so you’ll never have to fix footnotes one-by-one ever again!

Total video lesson time: 8 mins.

Finalizing Documents

Don’t hit the Print button yet! You’ve still got to check spelling and grammar and use Word’s Document Inspector to strip out any potentially compromising metadata before you send that document out. Then, you can print or PDF your document, plus produce any envelopes and labels you need for mailing. These 6 lessons will show you how.

Total video lesson time: 31 mins.

Total video instruction time: 3 hrs. 21 mins.*

* Times listed above are rounded to the nearest minute.

Final Exam

Need to demonstrate your proficiency to an employer? The Basic Word Skills for Legal Professionals course ends with a graded final exam to test your knowledge of what’s covered in the lessons. Once you’ve finished the course (yep, that’s required!), take it up to five times to get your best score, then print your certificate for your personnel file!

Here’s a behind-the-scenes tour of the course:

Frequently Asked Questions

During the checkout process, you’ll be asked for your email and you’ll choose your own user id and password. (If you’re already enrolled in one of my other courses, you should log in at this point so all your courses will be associated with the same user ID.) Those credentials will be what you’ll need to log into the course (see below).

Your purchase receipt (which you’ll receive via email automatically as soon as you enroll) will have a link to the first lesson and detailed instructions on how to log in. That same link will also appear on the purchase confirmation page online after your payment is processed.

You’ll also automatically receive a series of emails that will guide you through the course and give you detailed login instructions at the bottom of each email.

Go to https://legalofficeguru/login and use the login form:

There’s also a Course Login button in the top menu on every page of my site:

You have lifetime access to the course! As long as this site is up and running, you can come back and go through the lessons at your leisure.

If you decide within 60 days of purchase that the course isn’t right for you, email me at [email protected], and I’ll process your refund within 24 hours. No questions asked! Depending on your bank or card, it may take 2-3 days for the refund to show up in your account.

Online services like Lynda and Udemy are great for picking up new skills. But the courses I feature here at Legal Office Guru not only teach you these same skills but apply them directly to the law office/legal department context. You’ll see how to use these skills in documents like the ones you work with everyday.

Click here to see a 2-minute video tour of the lesson interface.

Unfortunately, no. This course only covers the Windows versions from 2007 through 2019 and Microsoft 365.

Email me your question at [email protected] – I’ll get back to you as quickly as I can!

Yes, I want to work better, faster and easier with Word!

Basic Word Skills + Styles Course

Go beyond basic skills and get even more leverage with Word Styles


Everything in the Basic Word Skills for Legal Professionals course, plus my Lawyer’s Guide to Microsoft Word Styles, featuring:

How Styles make global formatting so much easier & faster

How understanding Styles helps diagnose & fix problem formatting

What a Style really is

The 3 types of Styles, and which to use when

3 ways to apply Styles to text

How to create custom Styles

How to figure out what Style is applied to your text, then fix it to make global changes

Advanced features in Heading Styles

Save $20 off the public price of these courses

Basic Word Skills for Legal Professionals

Understanding the Word Ribbon interface

Using Navigation and Views to customize your Word experience

Creating, saving, opening and editing documents

Character/font, paragraph, page and document formatting

Finishing and printing your document (including getting rid of metadata)

Formatting and printing envelopes & labels

Dealing with sections, headers & footers, and page numbering

Inserting and formatting tables & columns

Basic automatic paragraph numbering

Checking spelling & grammar

Using Document Inspector to strip out metadata

Printing and PDFing your document

Graded final exam with certificate of completion

Basic Word Skills + Brief Builders Workshop + Pleading Paper

Basic Skills plus formatting tricks for briefs & other long documents


Everything in the Basic Word Skills for Legal Professionals course, plus my Brief Builders Workshop and Pleading Paper courses, featuring:

Marking entries for, inserting, configuring and correcting a Table of Authorities

Interpreting and editing TOA hidden text to fix a broken TOA (e.g., pin cites, etc.)

Creating an automatically-updating Table of Contents two different ways

Configuring different headers, footers, and page nos. by section

Automatic paragraph numbers including List Styles and numbered headings

The Pleading Paper course for those who have to deal with page format that has line numbers down the left side

Save $30 off the public price of these courses