Category Archives for "Featured – The Efficient Lawyer"

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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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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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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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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Easy-to-read file folder labels for trial exhibits using Mail Merge

One firm I’ve been working with has been in “trial mode” for a couple of weeks now. Thankfully, I wasn’t directly involved (I’ve seen the looks on the faces of the people who are, and I don’t want that), but I did pitch in where necessary. And “where necessary” included helping a secretary with making file folders for 100+ trial exhibits. The one requirement the paralegal had was the trial exhibit numbers had to be large and easy to read.

Thankfully, the trial exhibit list that was e-filed with the court was done in the form of a table. So that made it easy to use Mail Merge to create the labels, because we had a ready-to-use data source.

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16 In praise of text expansion (or, how to keep from typing the same thing 100 times)

Here in the last several weeks, I’ve been busy. And when I say “busy”, I’m not talking your run-of-the-mill “I have a nice steady flow of work” level of busy. I’m talking “so overloaded I’m farming out scut work to other people”, “oh my gosh, I just had that piece of paper in my hand a moment ago”, “I wonder if I can still get that Xanax prescription filled” level of busy. It was insane.

So naturally, I was looking for every time saver I could get my hands on. If something could save me even a few seconds (especially on a repetitive task), it was worth it.

One of the things I found myself doing was typing the same long complicated phrases over and over and over again. I don’t know about you, but I don’t exactly love typing. (As proof of that, I’m using Dragon NaturallySpeaking to write this article. I’m all for letting the computer do the work.) And when my brain gets a little overloaded and the pace starts getting on my nerves, my already sketchy typing skills go to pot. So I have no patience whatsoever for typing the same long complicated phrase 100 times.

So if you find yourself stuck typing “Brief in Support of American Amalgamated Consolidated Widget Corporation’s Second Amended Motion for Leave of Court to Conduct On-site Inspection” for the umpteenth time, I’m going to show you how to get out of all that repetitive typing. It’s a concept called “text expansion”, and you don’t even need extra software to do it (although there is software that will do that).

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7 Customizing the Quick Access Toolbar

Want one-click access to the commands you use most in the ribbon versions of Microsoft Office? Then you need to be taking full advantage of the Quick Access Toolbar!

The Quick Access Toolbar really lives up to its name: it provides one-click access to virtually any command you want. All you have to do is customize it.

And one of the great things about the Quick Access Toolbar (or QAT) is that it’s virtually the same throughout Microsoft Office. Sure, the commands vary according to the application, but the way you update it is the same across the Office Suite.

Here are two ways to add your favorite commands to the QAT:

What commands would you want on your QAT?

5 Instantly access boilerplate text with Quick Parts

Admit it: you repeat yourself.  A lot.

Oh, you don’t think you do.  But if you work in a law office, you’re probably constantly going back to old documents, picking up bits and pieces of text to drop into your latest magnum opus.

Stop doing that!

For one thing, it’s just so inefficient.  Even worse, you’re constantly in danger of forgetting to edit something client-specific when you do all that cutting-and-pasting.  (Do you really want to repeat that time you forgot to change “he” to “she” in the Notary Acknowledgement and your client had to correct you before she signed her name?)

Here’s a better solution: Quick Parts. Keep reading →

12 Don’t run screaming from macros

Whenever I’ve done training classes for law firms, the biggest bugaboo is always macros.

“Oh, no,” they cry. “That’s waaaaay too advanced for me!”

Um … no. It’s not. I promise.

People have this idea that, if they record a macro and make a mistake, it’s going to so totally screw things up they’ll never get their document fixed.

But if you’re looking to do things faster as your workload continues to pile up, macros can be a great time saver.  So many of the things you have to do repeatedly can be <gasp!> programmed.

And to prove that recording a macro is not such an advanced skill, Vivian Manning at Small City Law Firm Tech has a tutorial called Recording a Simple Word Macro.  She even shows you how to save your macro as a button on your Quick Access Toolbar (What? You’re not using that? You should!).

There, I wrote it – tempting most of you to run screaming from the blog.  Please come back, it’s not nearly as difficult as you imagine.  In fact, recording a simple macro is not difficult at all.  I promise!

All a simple, recorded macro in Word is, is this:

  • You tell Word, by turning on the Record Macro function, that you want it to record all of your Mouse Clicks / Keystrokes, until you turn the Record Macro function off again.
  • You tell Word whether you prefer to ‘run’ the Macro by way of a keyboard shortcut *or* a click of an icon.  All ‘running a macro’ means is forcing Word to replay the keystrokes that you recorded.

That’s all there is to it.  If you’re still reading, I’m going to show you how easy this is, and why you might want to ‘record’ and ‘run’ a macro.  Not run from it…

Click here to see the entire tutorial (with screen shots and everything). Note: Unfortunately, Vivian Manning’s blog is now offline. The Wayback Machine has an archived copy here.

Now, go.  At least try to record a simple macro.  And then come back and tell me how it went in the comments below!

15 Customizing the Status Bar

There’s a whole host of ways you can make the various Microsoft Office applications easier to use. In fact, most users don’t take full advantage of the options for customizing these applications to make the Office suite work better for them.

Today, we’re going to talk about one of the easiest customizations: the Status Bar. Look at the bottom of any Office application and you’ll see a bar just above the Windows Taskbar at the bottom (like this example from Word 2007):

Status Bar from Microsoft Word

(If you need to see the above a bit bigger, click on it for a full-sized version.  Go on — I’ll wait here.)

Most users don’t know they can change the information listed on the task bar in any Office application (except Outlook, unfortunately). And it’s really easy:

1) Right-click your mouse anywhere on the status bar.

2) Select the option(s) you want (check marks on this example from Word 2007 indicate the option is already selected and showing up on the Status Bar):

Customize Status Bar right-click menu from Microsoft Word

I recommend, for example, always turning on the Track Changes indicator, and I personally think the Word Count is a handy piece of information to have.  Feel free to experiment with adding or deleting features — you won’t mess up your document!

3) Once you’ve made your choices, click elsewhere on the screen to close the Customize Status Bar menu and save your changes.

That’s it! (That may be the easiest Word task you’ll do all day!)

Now, why is this important? Here are some scenarios to consider:

1) Someone’s sent you a document to review/revise and left Track Changes on, so when you start typing, Word starts redlining the document. With the status bar set to show the status of Track Changes, you can simply click on that section once to turn it off. That’s much simpler (and faster) than going to the Review tab, dropping down the Track Changes menu, and turning it off there.

2) You’ve imported some text from WordPerfect and notice that the headers and footers mysteriously change mid-document. Why? The status bar gives you a clue: the section numbers at the left keep changing. (Text imported from WordPerfect often embeds random section breaks into a document, which can affect the headers and footers.) How much time would you have otherwise spent trying to troubleshoot that problem?

3) Ever wanted to get a quick sum or count of highlighted cells in Excel without creating a formula? Change the status bar to show Count and Sum. You can also get quick calculations of Averages, Minimums and Maximums in the status bar.

So, what items would you want to see in the status bar? Tell me about ’em in the comments below.

2 Go from UPPER to lower without retyping

If you’ve ever decided (or been told) after you’ve already typed something that what’s in lowercase letters now needs to be UPPERCASE, or vice versa, you don’t have to retype a single letter.  No, no, no.  You just need to use Microsoft Word’s Change Case feature.

Word 2002-2003

  • Select the text you want to change the case of, using your mouse or keyboard, like so:

  • On the Format menu, click Change Case.

  • Choose the appropriate option:
    • Sentence case
    • lowercase
    • Uppercase
    • Title Case
    • tOGGLE cASE

Word 2007-2010

  • Select the text you want to change the case of, using your mouse or keyboard.
  • On the Home ribbon, go to the Fonts section and click the arrow next to the Change Case button.

  • Choose the appropriate option.

As an example, here’s what various types of text look like before changing case:

Before ...


And this is what it looks like after each type of change:

... and After

4 List of Word keyboard shortcuts

Stumbled across this while doing some research this weekend … Microsoft’s official list of keyboard shortcuts for Word 2002, Word 2003, and Word 2007.  (The list for Word 2010 is here.  Be sure to click the plus sign next to “Show All” before printing it out.)  If you prefer to keep your hands on the keyboard and off the mouse while typing, it wouldn’t be a bad idea to memorize the ones for functions you use a lot (bold, italics, centering, etc.).  In any event, it’s a handy reference.

Using and configuring AutoFormat As You Type

Have you ever been typing along and looked back at what you just typed and discovered that something weird happened? Like, you typed a few dashes, hit return, and suddenly there’s a solid line all the way across the page?

There’s more than one possible explanation for these kinds of oopsies (none of them your fault, fortunately), so there’s more than one fix.  Today, we’re going to talk about setting your AutoFormat options.

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1 Copying formats using Format Painter

If you’ve ever been working in a document (particularly one that’s been constructed with a lot of “cut and paste” from other documents) and wanted to make this paragraph (or this line or this heading) look just like that other one, here’s a simple trick.

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