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.

Keep reading →

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.

Keep reading →

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.

Keep reading →

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?

Keep reading →

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.

Keep reading →

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.
Also, I have one attorney who would prefer:

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

Keep reading →

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:

word-2016-paranum-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.

Keep reading →

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 lesson? 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.

Keep reading →

23 Bulletproof Paragraph Numbering, Part 2

In the ​previous lesson 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 last time, here's what kind of numbering we're covering in this lesson:

Keep reading →

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:

word-2016-paranum-ex-1

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:

word-2016-paranum-ex-2

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

word-2016-paranum-ex-3

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.

Keep reading →

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.

Keep reading →

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 →

6 Creating new Styles in Microsoft Word

Microsoft Word Styles are the most basic building blocks in Word. One of the first things you’ll need to learn after you master the interface and basic formatting is using the Quick Styles listed on the Home tab. Often, though, the Quick Styles don’t contain a particular Style your document needs.

If the default Microsoft Word Styles don’t fully meet your needs (for example, you need one for block quotes), you can create a new one. There are a couple of different ways to do this. I’ll start with what I think is the easiest one first. Keep reading →

1 Using the Clipboard to Multi-Paste

When you’re drafting a pleading (particularly an answer to a complaint or discovery) you probably find yourself using a few of the same phrases over and over. Rather than going back and recopying those snippets repeatedly (or worse, retyping them), use the Microsoft Word Clipboard to quickly access and paste them again and again. Keep reading →

10 Cutting and pasting from WordPerfect (or elsewhere)

We’ve all done it — there’s already a WordPerfect (or even Word) document that you need some text out of (a letter addressee, a section out of a brief, whatever), so you decide to cut-and-paste from WordPerfect into your current Word document.

And the formatting in your Word document goes totally … WAAAAAAHHHH!

Here’s how to avoid that:

Keep reading →

2 Reader Question: How to double indent faster

It was one of those emails that I knew I'd get sooner or later:

When indenting a paragraph for a quote in a motion for instance, is there a way to indent both the left and right margins of the paragraph using a keyboard shortcut? I seem to recall Ctrl+M in WordPerfect, but don't know of a built-in shortcut for MS Word.

Yeah, I've kind of been bummed about that, too.

The short answer is, no. Word didn't considerately offer up a built-in shortcut key that'll automatically indent both the right and left margins for an extended quote. I do not know why. It is a mystery for the ages. (Okay, maybe not quite that dramatic.)

But where Microsoft has failed, you can succeed. Here are three suggestions I had:

Keep reading →

Easier date entry in Excel

A local law office manager contacted me recently with this dilemma:

If I format the column as a date column so that my dates look like 05/12/16, all is well as long as I put in the slashes. I’ve got tons of dates to input and if I could simply put in 051216 and let IT put in the slashes, that would be wonderful – but when I do enter 051216, Excel changes it to 03/21/40. What’s it doing and how can I fix this?

Normally, speedy data entry isn’t a problem in Excel. As long as you set up the “where the cursor goes after you hit Enter” setting correctly, you can just type away.

Dates, however, are a bit of a pain in the … neck. As our hapless office manager has noted. Keep reading →

5 Want your next raise? You’ll have to test for it

I was having lunch with a friend of mine recently, and she was telling me about the new staff bonus plan they just announced at the megalawfirm where she works. It seems legal assistants and other staff members have an opportunity to earn $1,000 by scoring 90% or above on a series of tests on tech skills including proficiency in Microsoft Word.

Oh, I’m sorry, did I say “bonus”? My bad. I meant “salary adjustment”. You see, the $1,000 isn’t on top of whatever annual raise they get. It IS their annual raise.

Keep reading →

3 How to keep Track Changes from broadcasting your confidential data

If you frequently edit documents in “group” mode (exchanging drafts of a release with opposing counsel, for example), you’ve probably used Word’s Track Changes feature to stay on top of the edits.

Track Changes, however, has its problems. Sometimes it’s tricky to even tell if Track Changes is turned on. That becomes particularly important when you’re exchanging documents with people outside the office (and critical when it’s opposing counsel you’re dealing with). After all, if you don’t know that your own edits are being tracked and recorded, you may be inadvertently revealing confidential information.

Fortunately, you can tweak certain settings in Microsoft Word to ensure that you don’t get tripped up by hidden tracked changes. Here are my suggestions for features you should turn on so Track Changes is always open and obvious and under your complete control. Keep reading →

How one Legal Office Guru reader is using my SEQ autonumbering technique

I’m always gratified when a solution I’ve come up with (and published) is helping people in the “real world” (as opposed to … what? ?). Sometimes, I find out about it when readers email me to tell me how they’re using a solution in their office. But occasionally, I see increased traffic “click over” from another site and follow the referring link to see what’s going on.

It was the latter scenario that brought this blog post to my attention:

http:\www.remedialactionlawblog.com\making-numbering-interrogatories-and-requests-for-productionadmission-easy-with-video\

I especially liked three things about this person’s deployment of my “how to autonumber interrogatories using the SEQ field” technique:

  • It updates the technique for Word 2013 users (the original tutorial was published in 2012);
  • The blogger has deployed this throughout his firm using a customized Building Blocks file; and
  • It has video!

So head on over to Remedial Action Law to check it out!

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