2 Table of Authorities – The Ultimate Guide

It’s the one legal profession-specific feature in Microsoft Word. And, judging from some of the requests I receive from my newsletter readers, it’s also one of the most intimidating. It’s the dreaded Table of Authorities.

(Cue: Scary music)

In my experience, few things strike more fear into the hearts of legal support staff than having to put out a brief with a Table of Authorities. (Close second: Table of Contents) I suspect the bad rap TOAs get has more to do with how seldom most people have to deal with them (and thus, how unfamiliar they are) than with any real complexity of the feature itself. In other words, you can do this. And I’m going to help you break this down, step-by-step, starting with marking your citations.

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3 The 4 Fastest Formatting Fixes I Know

Hands down, the biggest complaint I get is that Microsoft Word seems to have a mind of its own when it comes to formatting. People swear they did nothing more than breathe on their document, and things went completely wonky!

Of course, without actually standing over their shoulder and watching them work, it’s really impossible for me to know exactly what happened. A lot of times, there’s a pretty easy File > Options tweak that could prevent similar snafus from happening again. (And don’t even get me started about why you need to learn to use Styles.)

But in my experience, most people aren’t particularly interested in trying to figure out how it happened. They just want to fix it and move on.

So for that crowd, I’ve put together a two-minute video on the four fastest ways I know to basically nuke your formatting so you can start over. You can basically choose among these:

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19 Copying vertical columns of text in Word

If you’ve ever had information typed up like this:Information typed in tabbed columns… and only needed to copy the stuff out of one column, you’ll love this tip.

Say, for example, you needed to just get the dollar amounts and copy them someplace else.  If you’ve got a whole list of these, you might think you’ll either have to type this up again, or copy-and-paste each amount separately.

Au contraire. Trust me, you’ll love this trick!

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6 Referencing the previous paragraph number with SEQ

I’ve been trying to solve a personal problem for a long time.

No, this blog hasn’t suddenly turned “confessional”. No TMI here.

The problem I’m referring to is this:

See that “3” that’s boxed in red above? That’s my problem. I wouldn’t say it’s the bane of my existence, but it still bugs me.

You see, I do a lot of Answers to Complaints in my day job. And I don’t know how you do it where you practice, but in our area, there are always sort of “catch all” paragraphs in the Complaint that we just answer with a standard “yeah, we’re just going to repeat our answer to all the above paragraphs without actually repeating it” statement.

That paragraph in the answer always starts with a reference to Paragraph 1 and ends with a reference to the immediately preceding paragraph. And if I’m using automatic paragraph numbering, that ought to be a breeze, right? If those paragraph numbers are driven by fields (which is all automatic paragraph numbering is), then I should be able to calculate “current paragraph number minus 1”. I’ve learned how to insert the current paragraph number into a paragraph. Why not the previous one?

Except … no. At least not according to the Microsoft MVPs I spoke to:

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11 Why do lawyers resist document assembly?

This post was originally published in September, 2015.

If you have any interest at all in the intersection between technology and lawyering, you should really check out this week’s podcast over at Lawyerist, where Lawyerist’s Sam Glover interviews Dennis Kennedy of the Kennedy-Mighell Report. Some of the conversation goes where you’d expect—document review, artificial intelligence, technology versus offshoring, what really constitutes “lawyering”, etc.—but then around the 13:37 mark, the conversation turns to a subject near and dear to my heart; namely, document assembly (which Kennedy apparently has had extensive past experience with).

Although Sam’s not entirely convinced of its value (at one point protesting “I am perfectly capable of automating documents, but in my own practice, I almost never bothered, because it would have only saved me 30 seconds”), Dennis Kennedy responds with what I think are some critical insights: Keep reading →

Formatting Autocorrect Entries

Have I told you lately how much I appreciate you, reader? Seriously, if it wasn’t for all of you, I wouldn’t find out about all sorts of things in Microsoft Office.

Case in point: a reader contacted me a few weeks ago and asked me this:

We recently upgraded from Word 2007 to 2013. In 2007 I had set up an auto correct for the term Id. In 2013 I can’t get the AutoCorrect to underline the term. Any ideas? Sharon

Frankly, I never knew you could format AutoCorrect entries. So I took to the interwebs to investigate.

Sure enough, it’s possible to teach AutoCorrect to correct both the spelling and formatting of an entry. But there’s a trick to it.

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5 Make up for your bad typing with AutoCorrect

I’ll admit it: I am not a world-class typist. I can do about 85-90 on a good-to-average day, but years of working with word processors has made my error rate a little dodgy.

And I’ve noticed, over the years, that no matter how much typing practice I get, there are a few words I misspell (really, mistype — I actually do know how to spell them!) frequently. That annoys me. A lot.

But taking the advice of my fellow blogger Vivian Manning, I’m going to stop obsessing about typos and let the computer do more of the work for me. Because if the machines can do more work, why not let them? And because not many people know how to get Microsoft Word to correct their common typos, I’m going to show you how. (Because I want you to do less busywork, too!)

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2 Using Autotext to deal with repetitive text

If you’ve ever typed a really long set of discovery answers/objections, you’ve seen language like this:

“[Party] objects to this request on the grounds that it is vague, ambiguous, immaterial, irrelevant, not reasonably calculated to lead to the discovery of admissible evidence …”

In fact, every attorney I know has his/her own boilerplate discovery objections — full paragraphs containing every possible objection one can make to a discovery request.

You don’t want to type that over and over and over again for 37 different discovery requests, do you?

Good.  I don’t want you to, either.  So I’m going to show you how to get out of it.  Without quitting your job.

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31 Reader Question: How to automatically number your discovery requests … in 5 keystrokes

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’ve been searching for the best way to create auto numbering for discovery requests: dare I say in WordPerfect I had the most amazing macros that used “counter” and creating a set of discovery was a snap. I’ve struggled to find something workable in Word. Some people use Discovery Request No. X – Interrogatory; others use Interrogatories No. X, Requests for Production No. X, Requests for Admission No. X throughout a set of discovery. There has to be a way to do this in Word, and I’ve tried several different approaches, none of which worked out that well. Would you please steer me in the right direction? Thanks very, very much.

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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7 Building reuseable Microsoft Word footers

One of my coworkers called me — for, like, the umpteenth time  — asking me to pull up document 389729 (not its real name) and “do that footer thing” (a.k.a. my famous footer trick, wherein I insert a three-column table into a document footer so the document number is on the left, the page number is in the middle, and maybe the date/time stamp for the latest draft is on the right).

My “footer thing” is getting to be really popular around the office, and I’ll have to show it to you sometime.  But there’s a way around having to build new footers in documents repeatedly.

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4 Want that “15th day of August, 2012” to self-update? Here’s how

If your documents are anything like the ones I’ve worked on over the years, there’s at least one section (the “Respectfully submitted” or the Certificate of Service in pleadings or the notary acknowledgement, for example) that has this in it:


Dated this the 15th day of August, 2012


If you start drafting the document on the 15th but don’t actually file (or sign or whatever) until, say, the 21st or the 30th or, heaven forbid, sometime next month or year, you’re either going to have to leave blanks for the day, month and/or year while you’re drafting or remember to update all those dates when you finalize the document.

But what if you didn’t have to do either one? What if your document was smart enough to do its own updating, based on the date you saved it last?

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3 The four dates you can embed in your Word documents

One of the most fun discoveries new Microsoft Word users make is the self-updating date. You may already know exactly what I’m talking about: you click a couple of times, and suddenly you’ve got today’s date embedded in your document, and it will update itself every time you open the document.

But what if what you want isn’t necessarily today’s date? What if you need the document to reflect the date it was saved, or printed, or created?

The good news is, you can get any of those with a couple more mouse clicks and a little know-how.

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7 Bulletproof Paragraph Numbering, Part 5

Early on in our Bulletproof Paragraph Numbering journey, Heather chimed in with this dilemma:

Our office typically uses headings when setting up multi-level lists and links them to styles. Unfortunately, as you know, doing that causes the style type to be linked when you go to modify styles.

Unfortunately, I have some very picky attorneys I work with who have exact specifications to their headings that don’t always work with Words functionality. For instance: ARTICLE 1. They want the text that follows ARTICLE 1. to be on the same line as the heading. They also want ARTICLE 1. to be bolded and underlined, HOWEVER, they don’t want the period bolded and underlined following ARTICLE 1. –> They also don’t want the text underlined and bolded.

As you can imagine, this proves very difficult since the paragraphs and characters are linked due to the fact that it is associated with a heading. With your vast storage of knowledge, can you think of a simpler way for me to set this up? They want headings to show up in and outline, or if necessary a TOC.

I clarified her attorney’s requirements with her, and she followed up with an additional example:

Also, I have one attorney who would prefer:

ARTICLE 1. (ARTICLE Bolded, Underlined but no period underlined and bolded)
ARTICLE 1. DEFINITIONS. Text (Text not underlined)

Another example:
4. (4 is Bolded)
4. Definitions (Definitions is Bolded and Underlined)
4. Definitions. (The Period is Bolded but not underlined)
4. Definitions. Text (The Text is plain no bold or underline)

It makes me want to pull my hair out!

I can completely sympathize! Those are both some pretty exacting specifications. Using Heather’s attorneys’ examples as inspiration, here’s one example of what’s possible:


Notice that:

  • The “Section” headings are on the same line as the remainder of its related paragraph.
  • The “Article” and “Section” headings are in all caps, bold and (at least the Sections) underlined within the text, but not within the Table of Contents.
  • While you can’t really see this above, both “Article” and “Section” can be cross-referenced (as initial caps and with context-appropriate formatting) within another paragraph in the document.

Pulling off distinct formatting of numbering, the lead-in headings, and the rest of the paragraph requires mastery of two techniques: Style Separators and Numbering versus Heading formatting.

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3 Bulletproof Paragraph Numbering, Part 4

Some of you have asked, in the comments to previous installments of this series, how to save your favorite numbering scheme for future use and how to embed paragraph formatting (line spacing, spaces between paragraphs, etc.) into your numbering scheme. Doing either of these things requires that we back up a bit.

While you can save a list numbering scheme like the ones we’ve covered so far in the List Gallery by right-clicking it in the Lists in Current Documents section and choosing Save in List Library:


… that doesn’t allow you to name your list something that you’ll remember, nor does the Define New Multilevel List dialog allow you to directly change paragraph formatting or other settings you may want to embed in a custom numbering scheme.

To do those things, we’ll need to deal with Styles and Define a New List Style.

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12 Bulletproof Paragraph Numbering, Part 3

This time, we’re going to deal with multilevel numbering with text that may (or may not) need to eventually be included in a Table of Contents. When I say some of the text “may or may not be included in a Table of Contents”, that’s because (unlike the numbering to covered in the previous tutorials) each level of this numbering will be linked to Heading Styles. This adds a new level of complexity to the proceedings, but it also switches on some pretty cool features and capabilities, such as:

  • Including headings in an automated Table of Contents (mentioned that already)
  • Reviewing the document’s structure within the Navigation View
  • Moving entire sections of a document around without cut-and-paste (again, via the Navigation View)
  • Automatically updating cross-references between paragraphs/sections (for instance, if you renumber Article II to Article III, any related references to Article II get updated including, if you like, noting whether the new Article III is “above” or “below” the reference)
  • Being able to repeat the entire text of a particular numbered heading elsewhere in the document (example: “see Section 3.01 Calculating Allocations”) without having to manually adjust those references when titles change
  • Revising the font/paragraph styling of a particular level heading in one series of steps (rather than going through the entire document and revising each heading manually)

Have I missed any benefits? Probably. Once you start embedding automated fields like paragraph numbering into your documents, you can find all sorts of ways to automatically update and cross-reference. If you’re producing long, complex documents, this comes in really handy.

How is this different from the type of automatic paragraph numbering I covered in the last post? Look at the difference between this:


… and this:


Some of the differences will be obvious; some, not. In the first example, every paragraph is numbered. In the second example, only the headings are numbered, while the related paragraphs underneath are not.

What’s not apparent from casual observation is that the second example actually uses the Heading Styles to create the numbered text. If you’ve been following along with this series, you’ll remember that I’ve very carefully avoided linking any of those numbering levels with a particular Style. In this example, the numbering will be explicitly linked to Heading Styles to create an outline. That’s what’s going to enable a lot of the benefits noted above.

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23 Bulletproof Paragraph Numbering, Part 2

In the previous post in this series, we went through the basics of setting up a multilevel paragraph numbering scheme for inline numbering (“inline” meaning that the number appears at the beginning of the paragraph and that each paragraph has a separate number). This is the kind of numbering that Word automatically applies (once you start the numbering scheme) whenever you press the Enter key to start a new paragraph.

So, to refresh your memory from the last post, here’s what kind of numbering we’re covering today:


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19 Bulletproof Paragraph Numbering, Part 1

Nearly every week, I get an email like this:

When using several different Styles in a document, I sometimes (TOO often) find that the formatting of a paragraph has reverted to an odd-size line or paragraph indent or the numbering doesn’t change back to 1, notwithstanding that I’ve selected “Restart list after …” in the Define new Multilevel list box. It seems that something is corrupted. Can you explain?

Or like this:

Hi! My biggest headache is paragraph numbering, I never know how to set it up to do it automatically and end up putting the paragraph numbers in manually. Also, how to get back to the main heading (e.g. no. 2, Communication & Procedures) then back to the sub-headings e.g. 2.1.

Which boils down to this:

Multilevel list numbering is my biggest frustration!

Even though I’ve included some paragraph numbering training in my basic Word course and have published articles elsewhere dealing with paragraph numbering specifically and various types of automatic numbering generally, it seems multi-level numbering is enough of an irritation to a sufficient number of people that I need to deal with this subject head-on.

Part of the problem with Microsoft Word’s paragraph numbering feature (single- or multi-level) is that it’s a twisted combination of Styles and Fields, so twisted it’s nearly impossible to separate them. Word has a lot of paragraph numbering Styles already built in, but following the advice of some genuine Microsoft Word experts (Ben SchorrJan Berinstein and the late Shauna Kelly), I’m going to show you how to create your own multi-level paragraph numbering List Styles you can save into your Normal (or other) template and use forever after.

The questions I’ve gotten are usually asking about one of three different types of multi-level numbering:

Inline multi-level numbering. This is paragraph numbering that looks like this:


Inline multi-level numbering with text. This paragraph numbering differs slightly from the above in that there is some text before and/or after the number which may or may not need to be included in a Table of Contents, like this:


Numbered headings. This numbering is embedded in headings that float above its related text, like so:


Given that we’re talking about three different types of multi-level paragraph numbering, I’ll deal with each type in a separate post. This post deals with the first type listed above, inline multi-level numbering.

(If you’ve never used Word’s built-in multi-level paragraph numbering and want a primer on how to use it, click here.)

But first, let’s talk about the basic methodology I’m going to use on all three types: creating your own list definitions to control the numbering. Because, let’s face it, the built-in ones are too hard for most people to control.

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1 How to Keep Obscure (but Useful) Word Commands in Easy Reach

Believe it or not, even with as many commands as are on the Microsoft Word Ribbon, there are some features that are nowhere to be found. Rather than dig through layers of dialog boxes or try to remember obscure shortcut keys, why not add a few essential (for you) commands to the Ribbon or Quick Access Toolbar? I’ll show you one example, but you can use this technique for any Word function.

Example Command: Adjust List Indents

Most legal users aren’t really happy with the default indentation of the paragraph numbering feature. Short of configuring your own paragraph numbering scheme, though, there doesn’t seem to be much of a way around it.

You can adjust the default List Paragraph Style’s indents on-the-fly by right-clicking on the paragraph number and choosing Adjust List Indents. But you’d have to know that feature’s there to use it.

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11 5 Options You’ll Want to Re-Set in Word

A big part of making Word work better for you is molding the way it works to the way you work. Most users don’t know they’ve got options for how certain features perform. Some things you’ll want to get out of your way, some things you’ll want to make easier to access. Here are my suggestions for changing Word’s defaults to work better in a legal environment:

First Step: Going into Options

Most of the default behaviors in Word are set within the Options dialog box. To get there (a necessary prerequisite for all of the exercises below), go to the File tab (if you’re still using Word 2007, click the Office Button) and click Options.

Once you’re in Options, you’re ready to rock.

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6 How To Add a Style to Quick Styles

Even those who have used Quick Styles frequently don’t know that there are lots more Styles available in Word. Getting one-click access to a Style, though, really requires that it be listed in the Quick Styles gallery (that list on the right-hand side of the Home tab).

If there’s a particular Style that you always want to be available within the Quick Styles gallery (especially one you just created for a particular purpose), here’s how to designate a Style as a Quick Style. Keep reading →

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