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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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 →

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:

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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:

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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!

(Post image: © Iqoncept | Dreamstime.comWork Smarter Not Harder Arrow Target Goal Effective Efficient Pr Photo)

2 Reader Question: Getting changes to the Normal template to “stick”

In response to my last post, I got this comment from a reader:

I am so tired of having to fix [settings] with every document. I also clicked on “new documents based on this template” and it did not stick on future documents. I was able to change my default font and that ridiculous 1.15 line spacing. I work in academia and they still always want 1″ margins all the way around and I got so frustrated with Word’s default left and right margins of 1.25. I finally fixed that but I cannot remember how I did it.

Dolores hits on an important point: clicking the radio button next to “new documents based on this template” in the Modify Styles dialog box doesn’t always make the change “stick” to the Normal template, so you’re sometimes stuck revising settings like default paragraph spacing and margins repeatedly. (I say “sometimes” because whether or not a setting sticks seems to be pretty random.)

So why does this happen, and what can you do about it? Keep reading →

8 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?

Keep reading →