Category Archives for "Featured – Brief Formatting"

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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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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7 The 6 Best Reasons to Use Styles

I had a good conversation with Sam Glover on the Lawyerist podcast recently about stuff I wish lawyers knew about Microsoft Office. It was a chance to say some things about how well (read: badly) many law offices use Microsoft Office.

One of those items on my ideal law firm training agenda was Styles. Sam and I are pretty much in agreement on why Styles is an essential Word skill. It’s so baked in, you can’t possible NOT use Styles, but very few Word users in my experience really use that feature well.

That part of the conversation was going pretty well. Then, at around the 13:08 mark, Sam asked me, “What’s the number one reason that lawyers ought to use Styles?”

And I froze. Then I mumbled something about getting all your level-three headings to update all at once.


So, because I can do a do-over on my own blog, here are six reasons I think you really ought to up your Styles game sooner than later.

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How to recycle your [legal] briefs safely

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!
Click the image above for more details.

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5 How to create numbered headings using Styles

I seem to make my best discoveries about Microsoft Office when I’m annoyed. (See my last post, for example.) It’s that kind of annoyance that says, “There’s got to be a better way to do this.” For some reason or another, this time it was paragraph numbering. But not the normal kind where you have the paragraph number indented about half an inch on the same line with the start of the paragraph. The document I was working on (a will) had the paragraph number floating centered above the paragraph. While I was drafting the document, I just knew the attorney I was working for would be moving paragraphs all over the place, and I didn’t want to stop to renumber them when he did.


This post won BlawgWorld’s Pick of the Week Award 3/10/14!
Click the image above for more details.

I remembered one of the paralegals I work with telling me that it was possible to embed numbers in Styles. So I went nosing around in Styles, looking to modify my Heading 1 so that it had an automatically incrementing Arabic numeral and a period, like so:

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Reader Question: Copying WordPerfect footnotes to Microsoft Word

You know how I’m always telling you that the best way to get your old WordPerfect text into a new Microsoft Word document is to just copy it over? Well, that’s not always the case. Sometimes Microsoft Word doesn’t “translate” WordPerfect text into just the right Microsoft Word equivalent.

Take, for example, the problem posed by this reader:

When using footnotes in a document, if I copy footnotes from WordPerfect and insert them into a Word document, the numbers do not change. Is there any way to make the numbers follow the number sequence in the document. Sometimes there are as many a 100 footnotes with dozens of different numbers — which need to be dealt with individually. Is there any way to make the numbers change and follow sequence at one time? I’ve tried everything including Ctrl-A (in the footnote draft, in the body of the document), but nothing works.

It took me a few minutes of experimenting, but I came up (I think) with the perfect solution. It’s one you’ll need in your toolbox if you ever have to copy footnoted content from old briefs, etc.

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13 How to keep two words together on a single line

Remember typewriters? (Those of you too young to remember those, just skip this part. Please.) Every time you heard that little ding when you approached the right-hand margin, you knew you needed to reach up, hit that bar over on the left side, and return the platen to the left margin to start a new line.

Yes, it was a pain in the neck compared to typing on a word processor. But at least then you had total control over where the line break was. These days? Not so much.

But you can still stop awkward breaks — hyphenated words or other groups of words that need to appear together on a single line — with a quick three-key combination.

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20 How to modify a Table of Contents in Microsoft Word

You’ve built a Table of Contents in Microsoft Word using the Styles feature to mark the TOC entries or by marking them manually. And just when you’re about to pat yourself on the back for having an automatic Table of Contents in your document, you notice something’s a little … off. Maybe the font’s not quite right. Or perhaps the font’s okay but the spacing’s not. Or the indentation. Or you want/don’t want the dot leaders running up to the page numbers.

Suffice it to say you just want to alter the format of it. But how?

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Taming naughty footnotes, pt. 2 – separators

A reader recently asked me if I had any “solutions or helpful hints for footnotes that simply do not fit on the page due to placement or length of the footnote itself.” Well, the placement question (if I understand her correctly) got answered in the post about fixing footnotes that drop down to another page. But I’d never gotten around to addressing the problem of lengthy footnotes.

Fortunately, Microsoft has saved me the trouble of addressing the question of how to adjust the footnote separator—they’ve posted a great video on their support site about how to change the footnote or endnote separator. (To summarize: using the draft view you can access from the View Shortcuts on the Status Bar, double-click the footnote to edit it, then choose Footnote Separator (or Continuation Separator, or Continuation Notice, if you want to change those too) and edit it like text.)

Note: You may need to install Microsoft Silverlight to view the video on their site.


5 Inserting a table of contents using styles

One of the things I’m on a rant about these days is loooooong documents.  Complicated documents, like 20+ page contracts and appellate briefs and stuff like that.

Why?  Because they always seem to need special stuff inserted in them.  Like custom headers and footers.  And level-1 and level-2 and level-out-the-wazoo headings.  It’s enough to make your head spin.

But if you’ve got mad skills and you plan your document right, a lot of this stuff becomes easier.  Like putting in a simple table of contents, for example.

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50 Using sections to control page numbers, headers and footers

Ever needed to be able to change the page numbers in the middle of a Microsoft Word document (an appellate brief, for example)?  Like, switching from Roman numerals to Arabic numerals or just not having page numbers at all?

Don’t tear your hair out, my pretty.  Help is here!

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4 Taming naughty footnotes, pt. 1

If you have a brief, etc., in Word 2007 in which a footnote drops down to a subsequent page (the number mark within the main text is on p. 2, but all or part of the footnote text keeps dropping down to p. 3), here’s how to fix it:

  • Click the Office Button (top left-hand corner)
  • Click Word Options (at bottom of menu)
  • Go to Advanced
  • Scroll all the way down until you see Compatibility Options
  • In the drop-down next to “Lay out this document as if created in:” choose Microsoft Office Word 2007 (like illustration below)
Compatibility Options in Word 2007

Compatibility Options in Word 2007

Your footnote should now appear on the correct page.

(You’re welcome.)

5 Using Styles & Formatting

Got a long brief or other document that has lots of headings, subheadings, etc.?  You need Styles, baby.

No, not styleStyles.

The Styles function in Word is a handy tool for, among other things, setting up headings for different sections of a document.  These styles serve a dual purpose: not only do they help keep document formatting consistent (i.e., all paragraph and subparagraph headings at a particular level, for example, will be consistent through the document), they can help later when you create a Table of Contents, since Word can use these styles to create the levels of your Table of Contents.

There are a couple of different ways to use Styles & Formatting (as the feature is formally known) in your document.

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