Category Archives for "Members Only"

Formatting and printing labels

As I mentioned in the lesson on Envelopes, even though formatting and printing envelopes and labels is a really basic word processing function, Microsoft Word inexplicably hides it from users on the Mailings tab.

Fortunately, if you're using labels from a major label vendor like Avery, you don't have to bust out the ruler and define the label format from scratch. But knowing how to choose which label format to use can be a bit tricky.

Where to find labels in Word

As I mentioned in the Envelopes lesson, the envelopes and labels feature can be found in the same place: the Mailings tab.

This time, we're going to click Labels:

You’ll notice immediately that the dialog box you get is actually for both Envelopes and Labels. Depending on whether you clicked on Envelopes or Labels on the Mailings tab, the correct tab on this dialog box will be selected by default. However, you can always click on the other tab if you’ve changed your mind.

The Labels tab of this dialog box has several sections. Your cursor, by default, will be sitting in the Address section (and you may find that Word has automatically populated an address there, depending on the document you were editing when you starting formatting this label).

Selecting the correct label format

Looking down and to the right, you'll see a section called Labels. This is where you can define the size labels you want to use. You may see a particular label size already selected; if that is not correct, then click on Options to change the label definition:

In many offices, the majority of the labels are either Avery brand or a generic brand which corresponds to an Avery size (usually listed on the outside of the package). For example, the Avery 2181 labels are the mini-sheets of plain white file folder labels, the Avery 5163 labels are the full-sheet 2" x 4" shipping labels I use, etc.

Don't use Avery US-sized labels? Your installation of Word will probably list several other label vendors, such as:

Microsoft
Ace
A-ONE
APLI
Avery A4/A5
Avery Zweckform
C-Line Products
Compulabel
Formtec

Herlitz PBS AG
HERMA
Hisago
INETA, S.A.
KOKUYO
Lorenz Bell
MACTac Starliner
MAY+SPIES

Office Depot
Planet
Printec
Sigel GmbH
TANEX
Tico
Tower
Unistat

Depending on the country in which you purchased your copy of Microsoft Word, your list may vary from mine.

Regardless of what brand of labels you're using, the procedure for picking a pre-defined label size/type is the same:

  • 1
    Choose the type of printer you're using — continuous feed (you know, like those dot matrix printers that most of us haven't seen since the 1990s) or "page printers" (laser, inkjet, etc. — anything that prints single sheets of paper rather than a continuous roll)
  • 2
    Pick the correct label vendor
  • 3
    Select that vendor's product number (like the 2181 or 5163 I mentioned earlier)

(Quick tip: if you select the first product number in the list and then type your product number, the cursor will move to the correct label — no need to scroll down!)

Once you've selected the correct label, look over to the right and compare the type, height, width, and paper size to what you have on hand:

Satisfied you've selected the right one? Click OK to return to the Labels dialog box.

At this point, I generally leave "Full page of the same label" selected. Why? Even if I'm just wanting to print one label on the page, it's easier (for me, anyway) to simply put my cursor into the correct label on the page than to designate it in the "Row/Column" fields here. But, hey, if you want to try it, knock yourself out.

Editing your labels

So, you've got your label defined. How do you get to the point you can put some text in it? Click "New Document" ...

and your labels will appear in their own document screen:

Notice that what you have on the screen looks a lot like a Word Table. That's because it is one. And this is why I like Labels in Microsoft Word better than the label function in WordPerfect. Once you know how to format table rows, columns and cells, you can do those same things with labels.

Labels are tables (so format them like one)

For instance, I don't like for my file folder labels to be printed so close to the top edge. But I don't want to skip an entire line down, either. So I go to the Layout tab of the Table Tools contextual menu (if your cursor is anywhere inside of the label table, you'll see it just above the Ribbon on the right — see that yellow block above?) and give the label an inside top margin of 0.1":

If you want to automatically center (horizontally and/or vertically) your label content, it's a one-click operation. Just click the correct visual representation in that same Alignment section of the Layout tab, and you're good to go.

Word 365

Unfortunately, you can't print labels in Word 365, unless you have a document already formatted as labels (or you're intrepid enough to try to create your own label table). Sorry!

Let's Review

Here's what we've covered in this tutorial:

  • check
    Where the Label function is located in the Ribbon versions of Word
  • check
    How to choose the correct label format
  • check
    How to tweak the formatting of your label table

The next tutorial in this series will cover ...

You're done with the basic lessons! Woo-hoo! If you want to do a little extra credit, click Next Unit to start learning some other handy Word tricks.

Printing envelopes

One of the most basic functions in Microsoft Word is printing envelopes and labels. You'd think that such a basic function would be pretty intuitive. It's not. One of the most frequent questions I get from longtime WordPerfect users is, "Where on earth are the envelopes (or labels) in Word?"

Where to find envelopes in Word

In all the Ribbon-based versions of Microsoft Word, the envelopes and labels feature can be found in the same place: the Mailings tab.

Over on the far left are Envelopes and Labels. Let's start by clicking Envelopes:

You'll notice immediately that the dialog box you get is actually for both Envelopes and Labels. Depending on whether you clicked on Envelopes or Labels on the Mailings tab, the correct tab on this dialog box will be selected by default. However, you can always click on the other tab if you've changed your mind.

But what you want to know right now is how address an envelope. By default, you could simply type something in the Delivery address field, put your return address in the indicated field (if it's not there already, which it would be if you'd saved it there, in which case, you may not even need this tutorial), and hit the Print button. And most of the time, that'll work just fine.

Note: Word will actually insert the address for you if you have your cursor right before the address:

Let's explore this Envelopes tab a bit further so you'll know how to tweak the settings on your own. Click the Options button.

Since I'm in the U.S., this is defaulting to a standard No. 10 envelope, but the drop-down provides a whole list of choices. Microsoft Word also has some embedded default settings for the placement of both the delivery and return addresses, but you can adjust those too, as well as the font used.

Let's switch over to the Printing Options tab:

Again, Microsoft Word (based on your printer driver) will set a default feed method for your envelope. Most of the time, you can just leave this setting alone. However, if you find that your envelope needs to be fed into the manual feed or envelope tray in a different way or position, you can reset that here.

Print versus Add to Document

Going back to the Envelopes and Labels dialog box, we see that we have two options for producing the envelope: Print and Add to Document. Clicking on Print, obviously, sends the envelope straight to the printer. Clicking on Add to Document inserts a page at the top of your document formatted as an envelope.

One of the advantages of doing Add to Document is that you can go back and change the envelope if you need to. A disadvantage, however, is that you have to be careful how you print the document, particularly if the envelope has to be manually fed and the remainder of the document does not. Experiment and figure out which works best for you and your particular setup.

My favorite method

Speaking of "what works best for you," this brings me, as an aside, to my own preferred method for creating envelopes. Every morning, when Microsoft Word opens a blank document upon start-up, I go ahead and format that document as an envelope, with the margins set up to place the delivery address 2.5 inches from the top and 4.0 inches from the left (standard for a no. 10 envelope).

To do this, I go to the Page Layout tab and perform several actions:

Paper Size/Type

First, I set the Paper Size/Type to a No. 10 envelope:

Orientation

Next, I set to the page orientation to Landscape:

Margins

Finally, I set the margins to 2.5 inches top, 4.0 inches left, and 0.5 inches bottom and right.

And yes, it's possible to do all these steps within the Margins and Paper tabs of the Page Setup dialog box itself by clicking on that tiny grey launcher arrow in the lower right-hand corner of the Page Setup section of the Page Layout tab (or double-clicking on the horizontal or vertical rulers):

To make this even easier for myself, I've created a macro for these settings and placed a shortcut button on my Quick Access Toolbar. That way, every time Microsoft Word starts up, I just click that button to run the macro on the blank document and, voilà, I have an envelope form I can start using immediately. Another reader suggested simply having an envelope template (a .dotx file) that I could simply retrieve whenever I need a pre-formatted envelope. I've done that, too.

Either way, this enables me to print multiple letterhead envelopes throughout the day (since the margin settings above prevent my putting in a return address). All I have to do is copy and paste addresses from letters in progress and print from the envelope form. Once I have the envelope(s) I need, I can simply delete the address(es) and reuse the form.

This method may not be for you. That's okay. But this just illustrates that there's always more than one way to accomplish something in Microsoft Word.

Word 365

Adding to the list of limitations of Word 365, Microsoft advises that, while the online version can open a document previously formatted as an envelope, you can't create a new envelope or print one.

Let's Review

Here's what we've covered in this tutorial:

  • check
    Where to find the Envelopes feature in Word 2010, 2013 and 2016
  • check
    How to print an envelope directly from the Envelopes dialog box
  • check
    How to add an envelope as the first page of an existing document
  • check
    How to create an envelope with direct formatting

The next tutorial in this series will cover ...

You're at the home stretch — next, we'll learn how to print labels!

Checking Spelling and Grammar

Now that you've stepped through all the basic formatting for your document, it's time to finish it up so that you can print or send it. But before you hit the print button, there are a few things that still need to be taken care of. After all, you want to make sure that your document is truly ready before you send it out.

Spelling and grammar check

This is the step that many Microsoft Word users are tempted to skip (even me). Don't, particularly if the document is going outside the office, either in print or via e-mail. The easiest way to kick off the spelling and grammar check function in Microsoft Word is to go to the Review tab and click on Spelling and Grammar on the far left end:

Word 2010 (same in 2013 and 2016)

Word 365

Be warned: by default, Microsoft Word Spell Checking feature in the desktop versions (not 365) also checks Grammar at the same time. If at any time the Grammar Check stops in what it believes is a grammatical error, you can click either of the Ignore buttons (as appropriate) or Next Sentence to move on, click Change to accept the suggestion being made, or click on Explain for the explanation of the grammatical rule you are (allegedly) breaking.

If Grammar Check is not appropriate for the document you're working on, or you simply find it annoying (as I do), you can uncheck the box next to Check Grammar and have Spell Check proceed to only check the spelling of your words. I'll show you in a moment how to turn off Grammar Check permanently if you wish, but first, let's see Spell Check in action:

In the above example, Spell Check has stopped on the word "Lorem." As with Grammar Check above, you can click either of the Ignore buttons if that's not actually a misspelled word, or click Add to Dictionary if that spelling is both correct and something you frequently use. If the word is misspelled, however, find the correct spelling in the Suggestions list and click either Change (to change adjust this instance of the misspelled word) or Change All (to change all of the instances of this misspelled word to the Suggestion you chose). If that particular misspelling is a typo that you frequently make, you can choose the correct Suggestion and click AutoCorrect to add that to the AutoCorrect dictionary, which will prompt Microsoft Word to correct that typo whenever you make it in future documents.

To end Spell Check, you can either complete it by going through the entire document as above or clicking Close to close the dialog box. If you spell check the entire document, a small confirmation message will pop up to let you know that Spell Check is complete.

Click OK to return to your document.

Customizing how Spell Check works

In any of the desktop versions of Word, if you go to the File tab and click on Options, then go to Proofing, you'll see some options for customizing how Microsoft Word checks spelling and grammar.

Word 2010

Word 2016

These options are mostly self-explanatory. For example, if you commonly use acronyms such as NASA, you'll probably want to check the box next to Ignore words in UPPERCASE. If you want Word to catch instances in which you've accidentally repeated word (like "that that"), then check the box next to Flag repeated words.

Word can also check spelling and grammar as you type, which can be particularly convenient if you don't want to have to remember to spell check when you're through editing. If the options "Check spelling as you type" and "Mark grammar errors as you type" are checked, you'll see green (spelling) and red (grammar) squiggly lines underneath any words or phrases caught by the Spell and Grammar Check.

I tend to find this method more convenient because I can visually scan the document as I'm editing and make corrections. If Word marks something as an error when it's actually correct, you can simply right-click on the squiggly line and click on Ignore to instruct Word to skip over any other instances of that word or phrase in that document.

Let's Review

Here's what we've covered in this tutorial:

  • check
    Using Spelling and Grammar Check
  • check
    Customizing how Spelling and Grammar Check works
  • check
    Setting up "check spelling as you type" and "mark grammar errors as you type"

The next tutorial in this series will cover ...

If you're going to send your document out electronically, the next step is incredibly important: checking for (and eliminating) metadata. We'll go over how to use the Document Inspector to accomplish that. Stay tuned!

How to create your own Pleading Paper template, Part 2

If you completed the first unit in this course, you know that there are two basic formats of Pleading Paper:

  • In the 25-line template, the line numbers are embedded in a Text Box which is placed in the Header, and the vertical lines separating the numbers from the text are graphic objects drawn using the Shapes feature on the Insert tab. While this format is more vulnerable to misalignments between the numbers and the text, it will allow for certain parts of the pleading (such as the style in the signature block) to be single spaced.​
  • In the old 28-line template, the line numbers are placed on the page using the Line Numbering feature in Word, and the vertical lines are drawn using Bar Tabs. The line numbers and the text do not get misaligned in this template, but it will not accommodate single spacing in the style or signature block, nor can you use a Table to insert the case style.

Armed with this knowledge (and your familiarity with your court's particular requirements), you've chosen which template to start with. But it needs adjusting, doesn't it? So here in Part 2, I'm going to show you how to modify the standard template to make your own.

How to modify the standard templates

Using the 25- and 28-line templates as a guide, here's how to make some formatting adjustments to a standard template for your own use.

Adding/removing/moving vertical lines

25-line/26-line/new 28-line/32-line templates

In these templates, the vertical lines are embedded in the Header as a graphic object. To move or delete any of these lines, double-click in the Header area (or go to the Insert tab and click Header | Edit Header), then select the vertical line by clicking on it (you'll know you've selected it correctly if you see an anchor character floating nearby). To remove it, simply click the Delete key. To move it around, simply hold down your left mouse button and drag the line around to wherever you want it.

To add a new vertical line, go to the Insert tab and, under Shapes, find the straight line tool as illustrated below:

Your cursor will change to a cross-hair. Place your cursor where you want to start the line then, holding down your left mouse button, drag the mouse to where you want to line to end. Release the left mouse button to finish the line.

If your line needs adjusting (thickness or horizontal position), see "Extending vertical lines into the header and footer (28-line template only)" below for instructions.

Old (2003) 28-line template

If you have an older (version 2003) 28-line template, the vertical lines are actually bar tabs (which explains why they do not extend into the Header or Footer). The only adjustments you can make here are to either delete the line or move it. To do either, first select all the text in the document with CTRL-A so your new tab settings will be effective for the whole document. Then, click the launcher in the lower right-hand corner of the Paragraph section of the Home tab to get the Paragraph dialog box. Click the Tabs button on the bottom of that dialog box to get the Tabs dialog box:

To remove either of these lines, click on the appropriate one (either the -0.25" or -0.23" setting), then click the Clear button. You can't directly move one of these lines, so you'll have to delete a line first and then reinsert it at whatever vertical point you wish. Just type the new setting under Tab stop position, Select Bar under Alignment, then click Set.

Changing the number of text lines to be numbered

I will tell you this up front: I was an English major in college for a reason. Math is not my strong suit. So it's with great trepidation that I approach the subject of reformatting a 25- or 28-line template to accommodate 24 or 31 or however many lines according to your court's requirements. Because there will be math. (That always sounds vaguely like a threat to me.)

I would recommend that you tackle page margins first. To do that, go to the Page Layout tab and click on Margins:

Put the correct values in the boxes next to Top, Bottom, Left, and Right, then click OK.

Once you have your margins set correctly, then you can reset the number of lines on the template.

25-line/26-line/28-line/32-line templates

In the 25/26/28/23-line templates, you'll have to adjust the Line Spacing for both the line numbers along the left and the actual text of the document:

To change the Line Spacing in the Text Box that contains the line numbers, double-click into the Header, single click into the Text Box, then press CTRL-A to select the entire contents of the Text Box.

Now, click the launcher arrow in the lower right-hand corner of the Paragraph section of the Home tab to get the Paragraph dialog box:

Okay, here's where the math comes in. If, for example, you have an 11 inch long piece of paper and your top margin is 1.5 inches and your bottom margin is 0.7 inches, that leaves you with 8.8 inches of text. Because most of us don't deal with text the way a typesetter or desktop publisher does (in points rather than inches), we don't commonly know that 72 points = 1 inch. (Since there are 2.54 centimeters in an inch, it looks like there are about 28.35 or so points per vertical centimeter ... I think.)

So you'll have to take that 8.8 inches and multiply it by 72, then divide it by the number of lines your form requires to come up with the correct point setting to type in next to "Exactly" above (which may require some decimal places, like the aforementioned 22.75 pt setting). You may have to tweak and test little bit (I told you math wasn't my strong suit) to get this exactly right, but the above formula should at least get you in the ballpark. (If you'd rather work strictly in inches or centimeters, you can actually type that value in with "in" or "cm" next to it, and when you click OK, Word will do the conversion for you. Points, however, are going to be a bit more precise.) Use the exact same setting for your document text (and be sure the font sizes match, too), and your numbers and text should align just fine.

If your line spacing settings are the same in both places, but your line numbers and lines are a little askew, you can nudge the Text Box in the Header up or down slightly by dragging it up or down slightly so that the number 1 is aligned with the first line of your text. You can also use the key combination CTRL-UP or CTRL-DOWN to nudge it up or down by small increments (you have to select the Text Box with your mouse so that you see the anchor character appear above it first).

Old (2003) 28-line template

This whole operation is a lot simpler in the old 28-line template. Since the Line Numbering always tracks with the actual text, it simply a matter of adjusting the Line Spacing (see formula above) until you get the correct number of lines between your top and bottom margins.

Inserting a case style

25-line/26-line/28-line/32-line templates

The 25/26/28/32-line templates already have a case style format embedded in them. Those shaded items in brackets are actually fields that are left over from the way Word 2003 and earlier used macro-driven bookmarks. You can simply type over this information with your own, or if you really want to get fancy, click here to find out how you can embed Bookmarks that will enable you to repeat information like a party's name throughout a document.

Notice that the part containing the plaintiff's and defendant's names, etc., is within a Table. I've found that this is a good way to format this kind of information because things tend to stay put. (By the way, if you need to insert a Tab inside of a Table, hit CTRL-Tab rather than just Tab.)

If the format above doesn't meet your particular court's requirements, contact your local court clerk or law librarian to see if a better template is available.

Old (2003) 28-line template

Since the older 28-line template is completely blank, you've got pretty much free reign. Except for one problem: inserting a table (like you can in the 25/26/28/32-line templates) makes the line numbers and vertical line <em>disappear</em>. (Bummer.) But you can still use tab stops to format everything, and if you're not totally wedded to a particular separator character (like * or ) ), then you can use a Bar Tab (just another type of tab stop, like Center Tabs or Right Tabs) to insert a straight line in the middle that never moves, no matter how many parties you enter.

Fixing numbering/text alignment problems

With the old 28-line template, you should never seldom have any alignment problems between the numbering and the text, since this template employs the Line Numbering feature in Word.

Update: H. Scott Leviant over at The Complex Litigator points out that line number/text alignment problems that occur on the first page of pleading paper can be fixed easily with a setting in Word Options. To take advantage of this setting, click on the File Tab (versions 2010 and 2013) or the Office Button (version 2007) and choose Options. In the Advanced section, scroll all the way to the bottom and expand the Layout Options by clicking on the arrow to the left of the phrase "Layout Options". Check the box called "don't center 'exact line height' lines", like so:

But since the 25/26/28/32-line templates have line numbering embedded in a Text Box, misalignments are a frequent hazard, particularly for those who copy text out of other documents.

And to explain this, I have to go to video:

Extending line numbering into the footer (25/26/28/32-line template only)

I seem to remember having had someone ask me this, although I frankly don't know what jurisdiction actually requires this (or why). But never mind that, because this is actually easy to do. Just double-click into the Header, scroll down to the end of the Text Box, then place your cursor after the last number, hit Enter, and just add as many numbers as you need.

Extending vertical lines into the header and footer (old 28-line template only)

See that example above of the case style in a 28-line template? Since that template uses Bar Tabs to put the vertical lines between the line numbers in the text, the vertical lines don't actually extend into the header and footer. I cheated.

To add extra length to those vertical lines, double-click into the header or footer, then go to the Insert tab and click Shapes to find the vertical line tool:

Your cursor will change to a cross-hair. Place your cursor at the end of the existing line created by the Bar Tab, then, holding down your left mouse button, drag the mouse to the top or bottom. Release the left mouse button to finish the line. Rinse and repeat in the Header and Footer for as many lines as you need. If you find your lines are a little thicker than the ones in the template, click on the line to get the Drawing Tools contextual tab, then click Shape Outline, Weight, and choose a thinner line weight.

If your lines need to be nudged over a bit to be perfectly aligned, select the line with your mouse and use CTRL-Left-Arrow or CTRL-Right-Arrow to move the lines over in small increments. (You may have to zoom your view in really tight to get it just right.)

Removing the line numbering

25/26/28/32-line templates

Easy as pie. Just double-click into the Header, select the Text Box with your mouse, and hit the Delete key. And those numbers are outtahere!

Old (2003) 28-line template

To turn off Line Numbering, go to the Page Layout tab, click line Numbering, and choose None.

And when you're done ... SAVE IT!

I hope you're really not considering going through all this reformatting every single time you create a pleading. Because it's absolutely not necessary. Once you get this thing tweaked to your exacting specifications, take my advice and save it as a template.

To do that, instead of just hitting that little diskette icon to do a regular Save, go up to the Office Button (if you're in version 2007) or to the File tab (if you're using 2010 or later) and click Save As. (Since I don't have version 2007 on this PC, you 2007 users will have to click here for more exact instructions.) If you're a Word 2010, 2013 or 2016 user, you'll see a dialog box like this:

Word 2010

Word 2016

If you want your template to be available as a choice when you click File | New, or if you want to make your template available on your office network for others to use, click here and here to find out what folder you should save your template in.

Ensuring your line numbers appear on every page (not just the first one)

If you've created your own pleading paper template, but you only see your line numbers on the first page, It's probably because your headers/footers are set to have a different first page header/footer (commonly used in letters):

  1. Double-click into the first page’s header or footer area.
  2. Press CTRL-A to select everything in the header/footer area.
  3. Press CTRL-C to copy it.
  4. Uncheck the box next to Different First Page on the Header and Footer Tools contextual tab shown below.
  5. If you find that the numbering scheme you worked so hard on has vanished, don’t panic – you just copied it! Use CTRL-V to paste it back into the header/footer area.

Your line numbering, etc. should now appear on all pages.

Questions, anyone? Bueller? Bueller?

If 3,000+ words in this course didn't answer your particular question (hey, it could happen), give me a shout in the survey below.

How to create your own Pleading Paper template, Part 1

I've gotten a fair number of questions from readers about how to format pleadings with line numbers down the left, commonly known as Pleading Paper. Typically, they sound something like this:

My text never quite lines up exactly with the numbers on the pleading paper. What's the trick??
PLEASE work on the pleadings template!  I’m sure I and many others would pay bonuses for your guidance.
Pleading paper instructions would be fantastic! I mostly work in California state and federal courts, and our office just reuses old documents to keep the pleading paper formatting.  Unfortunately this brings along a host of other formatting issues, and while I'd love to be able to start from scratch I don't know how. Any help you could give would be terrific, thank you!!
I am not sure of the technical name for it, but years ago law firms had stationery with double lines on left side of a page and one line on the right. I know Word can duplicate it, but I don't how to add them or what it is called.  I will try the [pleading paper] template, but is there a way to remove the page numbering on the side?
I wish WORD was like WordPerfect in that we could just add the pleading format into the document after the document is completed. Anyway, if you could help me figure this out it would be great.  I recently added [a plug-in] to Word/Office which provides a host of automated functions, like cite checking, quote check, and table of authorities, which would make finalizing a brief a breeze.  However, if I can't get out of the WordPerfect format for my brief writing, I don’t see where all these extra functions will benefit me.

Okay, okay, I get it, I get it! Clearly, my standard reply (which I used so often that I actually created an entry in Quick Parts in Outlook for it) isn't getting the job done. So, while I would love to create a custom template (like I did for that last person above) for each and every one of you, there just aren't enough hours in the day!

So, in lieu of becoming a template factory, I'm going to show you how to make some common adjustments to those musty old the latest Microsoft templates (the 24-line template, the 25-line template, the 26-line template, the old 28-line template, the 2013 28-line template, or the 32-line template) all by yourself. And if you don't see your particular question addressed in this series, by all means leave it in the comments at the end, and I'll add the answer.

Update: Apparently, not so "musty and old" anymore! It looks like Microsoft has updated the pleading templates for versions 2007 and 2013. They also have 26-line and 32-line versions. I've updated the links above so they point to the new versions (the old ones no longer exist).

And Another Update: What Microsoft giveth, Microsoft also taketh away. It seems they don't supply these templates anymore. Fortunately, I had downloaded some of them the last time I encountered them, so the links should work now. Thanks to an eagle-eyed reader for alerting me to the change.

Pleading Paper Templates - An Introduction

Since I don't work in California or any other jurisdiction that requires Pleading Paper formats, I'm not exactly an expert on all the ins and outs of the formatting requirements. However, some common themes are evident:

  • Most have line numbering down the left margin​
  • Some have one (and occasionally two) vertical lines down the left margin just to the right of any line numbers​
  • Some also have a vertical line down the right margin as well​
  • Some of these vertical lines extend the full height of the page; some only to the height of the main text (excluding headers and footers)​
  • The number of lines that are numbered varies​
  • Some formats have line numbers that extend into the footer; most do not​
  • The line spacing is almost invariably funky (like, it can't just be double-spaced, it has to be 22.75 points or something)

In short, every time I look at Pleading Paper, I have a bad flashback of my one experience back in the late 1980s of formatting a U.S. Supreme Court brief. (And, for those of you who may be asking: yes, I did it in WordPerfect.)

How pleading paper templates work

The Microsoft Word pleading paper templates</a> that seem to be available mostly date back to the 2003 version of Word. (There's one 2007 version with 24 lines.) Clearly, nobody at Microsoft thinks these are worth updating, and Even though Microsoft has updated the pleading paper templates to 2007 and 2013 versions, they've apparently ditched the previous pleading creation wizard. So we are going to learn how to update these ourselves. (And by "we," I mean you. Because I already have.)

Of course, the 28- and 25-line/26-line/32-line templates work in different ways. (We wouldn't want to be consistent, now, would we?) The line numbers in the 25-line version (as well as the 26- and 32-line templates) are actually embedded in a Text Box placed in the Header. The vertical lines are also placed in the Header. The line spacing in the template is designed to match the line spacing in the Text Box so that the lines of text will align with the line numbers. (Try saying that last part three times fast.)

The old 2003 28-line version (assuming you saved it when it was available) uses Word's Line Numbering feature to place the numbers. And those vertical lines? They're Bar Tabs. (Insert your favorite alcohol-related joke here.)

If you use the template in the way that Microsoft seems to think you should (by simply opening a new document based on the template and then typing into it) the text will align with the numbers just fine. But, as we all know, lawyers love to cut-and-paste from old pleadings, and this is quite often where the formatting fun begins, particularly if the old text is coming from WordPerfect.

And if the court you're practicing in requires something other than those formats, then heaven help you.

First, let's take a look at the typical formatting of the standard templates:

So, to summarize:

  • If your entire document including the case style and your signature block will be spaced identically (no switching to single space for any section of your document), then you can start with the old 28-line template and modify according to your needs.
  • However, if in your jurisdiction the case style and/or signature block (or anything else) require single spacing, start with the 25-line template, since the numbering on the left side is embedded in a Text Box and therefore independent of the line spacing of the actual document text.

(And for those of you who are interested in using the Bookmarks feature of the 25 line template, click here for a tutorial.)

It's also worthwhile to note that, in some states, law schools and law libraries make templates available online. (See https://saclaw.org/wp-content/uploads/form-pleading-paper.rtf as an example.) Those might give you a better start than the standard Microsoft templates.

Where to go from here?

Now that you've:

  • Learned the two different ways these templates are constructed, and what implications those design decisions have on line spacing; and​
  • Decided which of the two templates would give you the best starting place​

... you're ready to learn how to alter the existing templates to your court's specifications.

In the next lesson in this course, we'll cover:

  • Adding/moving/removing vertical lines​
  • Changing the number of numbered lines (in case your court requires something other than 25 or 28 lines)​
  • Inserting a case style (here's where choosing the correct template to start with becomes really important!)​
  • Preventing and/or fixing numbering/text alignment problems​
  • Extending line numbering into the footer​
  • Removing line numbering altogether

If you've been just getting by with your current template (or, as one reader noted above, "just reus[ing] old documents to keep the pleading paper formatting"), then click the Next Unit button below to go to the next lesson!

Page Setup – Size, Orientation & Margins

Now that we've gotten to page formatting in this series, take a moment to pat yourself on the back a bit. After all, you've learned quite a bit so far — how to get around in Microsoft Word's Ribbon interface, how to open and navigate in existing documents, how to create and save new documents, and some basic character and paragraph formatting skills. That's a lot!

So for this lesson, we're going to pull back a little bit and talk about page formatting. When I say "page formatting," I mean what size/format paper you print on (US letter or legal size, A3 or A4, envelopes, etc.), what page margins you use, and what page orientation (portrait or landscape) your document has.

Let's get to it.

Page Setup on the Ribbon

In Microsoft Word, three of these basic items of page formatting are controlled in the Page Setup area of the Page Layout (or Layout, in some versions of Word) tab of the Ribbon.

Word 2010

Word 2013

Word 2016 Layout tab

Word 2016

Word 365 Page Layout tab

Word 365

We're going to work our way from right to left of the Page Setup area, starting with Size:

Page Size

First, let's decide the size of the page we'll be printing on.

In the U.S., the Normal template as delivered defaults to letter-size paper, so that when you open a new document, it's set to print on 8.5" x 11" paper. The most popular choices for your particular language version of Word will be shown at the top of this list, but you can scroll down to find the paper you need (including envelope forms). (The list of choices in Word 365 is shorter.) If none of those paper sizes are what you want, you can always click More Paper Sizes (or Custom Page Size in Word 365) at the bottom of the drop-down to access the full Page Setup menu.

Word 2010 (same in 2013 and 2016)

Word 365

If none of the predefined sizes there are right for you, you can always input custom measurements for the paper you're using (see above examples), then click OK when you're done.

Page Orientation

Next, let's decide which direction the text will print: Portrait or Landscape. If you're not familiar with those terms, the difference between them is illustrated in the Orientation drop-down:

Here, you've only got two choices. Pick one, and we'll move on to margins.

Margins

Like Page Size, the Normal template as delivered defaults to a particular margin setting, but you can change it in the Margins drop-down.

As before, you can pick one of the predefined settings by clicking on it, or you can click on Custom Margins to define your own.

Word 2010 (same in 2013 and 2016)

Word 365

As you can see above, you're taken back to the Page Setup dialog box, but this time you're on the Margins tab. You can either type the margin settings directly into the boxes for Top, Bottom, Left and Right, or you can use the up and down arrows on the right edges of the boxes to increment the setting up or down. Once those are set, click OK to close the dialog box.

The Layout tab

You may have noticed a tab called Layout in the dialog box above:

Word 2010 (same in 2013 and 2016)

In the upper part of this dialog box, you can set some preferences for your headers and footers (we'll get to those in a moment), but one feature I want to point out is that you can set the vertical alignment of the entire page - Top (the default, meaning your text starts at the top margin), Center, Bottom, and Justified.

There is no equivalent of the Layout tab in Word 365.

Let's Review

Here's what we've covered in this tutorial:

  • check
    Defining the paper size/type — Letter, Legal, Envelope, etc.
  • check
    Deciding on the page orientation — Portrait or Landscape
  • check
    Setting the page margins
  • check
    Setting vertical page alignment

The next tutorial in this series will cover ...

Creating and formatting headers and footers, including how to insert page numbers and how to set up headers/footers that start on page 2 (as in a letter). Click this one "Mark as Completed", then click "Next Unit" so we can get started!

Paragraph Justification and Line Spacing

You don't need me to tell you what a paragraph is — it's a block of text that ends with a "hard return" you insert by pressing the Enter key. In Microsoft Word, paragraph formatting covers such attributes as justification, indentation, line spacing, and what WordPerfect calls "block protect" (called something else by Word, but we'll get to that later).

Our first lesson in paragraph formatting focuses on justification and line spacing. Some of these instructions will be familiar to anyone who's worked with a Windows word processor before, but here's how you can set each of these attributes in Microsoft Word:

Justification/Alignment

Justification (some prefer the term "alignment") refers to how the paragraph is aligned horizontally.

  • Is it flush against left margin with a ragged right edge? It's left-justified.
  • The opposite (aligned with the right margin with a ragged left edge)? It's right-justified.
  • Is each line centered between the left and right margins with ragged edges on the left and right? It's centered.
Examples of left, right, center and full justification

Examples of left, right, center and full justification (top to bottom, respectively)

And it's super easy — here's how you do left-justify, right-justify, center, and full-justify in Microsoft Word (either with your mouse or your keyboard).

Using the Ribbon

Paragraph formatting is controlled by the Paragraph section on the Home tab of the Ribbon:

You can control justification/alignment of a paragraph by clicking on the following buttons:

Left-Justify - leaves a ragged right edge to the paragraph (like a typewriter would)

Center - centers the text on each line

Right-Justify - aligns the text even with the right-hand margin

Full-Justify - gives paragraphs an even left and right margin by proportionally spacing the text

Using the Paragraph dialog box

More paragraph formatting commands (including those we'll be talking about below) are contained in the Paragraph dialog box. To open the dialog box, click the launcher (the small arrow in the lower right-hand corner of the Paragraph section of the Home tab of the Ribbon):

That will bring up the Paragraph dialog box. The justification settings are near the top, in a drop-down box:

Line spacing

Setting line spacing is easy, too, and you've got the same options here: Ribbon and keyboard.

Setting line spacing on the Ribbon

There are two places on Microsoft Word's Ribbon that you can adjust line spacing. You can either use the drop-down in the Paragraph section of the Home tab:

... or you can click the dialog launcher arrow in the Paragraph section of the Layout tab (called the Page Layout tab in Word 2010) to bring up the Paragraph dialog box:

Word 2016

Word 365 (online version)

If you choose Multiple (see the area inside the red square above), you can use any positive number for the "at" value (the area inside the blue square above), and Word will adjust the spacing based on the number of lines ("3" would be triple-spacing, for example). If you need to be more precise, choose "Exactly" and use points, centimeters, or inches as your unit of measurement in the "at" box.

Setting line spacing with the keyboard

You speed typists out there can use the following shortcut keys for these standard line spacing options:

Press this ...

... to do this:

CTRL-1

Single spacing

CTRL-2

Double spacing

CTRL-5

1.5 line spacing

Space Before/After Paragraphs

In addition to setting line spacing <em>within</em> a paragraph, you can add extra space between paragraphs. This option comes in especially handy in a couple of situations:

  • In a letter, even though your text may be single-spaced, you can put extra space after each paragraph to avoid having to put two hard returns (pressing the Enter key twice) to start each new paragraph. For example, if your font is sized 12 points and your text is single-spaced, you could insert 12 points of space after each paragraph to leave one extra line's worth of space between paragraphs.
  • You can set space before and after headings to give each section of your document a bit more "breathing room" and create a more aesthetically pleasing layout.

This, by the way, is the feature that's often behind this complaint: "I chose single spacing, but I still see extra spaces between my paragraphs!" If you run into this predicament, you'll soon know how to check (and correct) this setting.

Again, you can access these settings via either the Ribbon or the keyboard. On the Ribbon, you can use the spinner (a field with up and down arrows on the side that enable you to change the value in the field up or down) in the Paragraph section of the Layout tab (called the Page Layout tab in Word 2010 and Word 365).

You can also adjust these values in the same Paragraph dialog box shown above.

That check box for "don't add space between paragraphs of the same style" deserves a special mention. It's handy when you're working with headings (you want space before and after a two-line heading, but not space between the first and second lines separated by a hard return).

Where that check box becomes a bit of a pain in the neck is when it's checked for regular text paragraphs. Don't get frustrated if you reset before/after paragraph spacing and it doesn't seem to "take". Select all of the text that doesn't seem to be behaving properly, then head into the Paragraph dialog box (click the launcher arrow in the lower right-hand corner of the Paragraph section of either the Home or Layout/Page Layout tabs) to make sure this box isn't ticked.

Let's Review

Here's what we've covered in this tutorial:

  • check
    Justifying/aligning text in a paragraph — left, center, right and full justification — using either the Ribbon, the keyboard or the Paragraph dialog box
  • check
    Setting line spacing using the Ribbon or the keyboard
  • check
    Including extra space before and/or after paragraphs
  • check
    Checking the "don't add space between paragraphs of the same style" box to troubleshoot line spacing.

This was kind of a long lesson! Thanks for hanging in there with me.

The next tutorial in this series will cover ...

Paragraph indentation and tab settings. See you then!

Character Formatting Basics

In this lesson, we turn our attention to the basics of formatting characters: fonts; bold, italic and underline; subscript, superscript, strikethrough, small caps and other specialized formatting; and how to change the case (uppercase, lowercase, etc.) of already-typed text.

An introduction to fonts

I know I'm starting to sound like a broken record here, but once again, depending on your preference, you've got more than one way to change the fonts in your document. Here are your choices:

1) Use the Ribbon (click on the Home tab, then choose the font from the drop-down); OR

2) Click the launcher arrow in the lower right-hand corner of the Font section of the Home tab on the Ribbon and use the full Font dialog box (allows you to change the font plus bold/italic/underline in one place) or click CTRL-SHIFT-F.

To change the size of the font, you can:

1) Use the drop-down just to the right of the font name in the Home tab on the Ribbon and pick a size from the list (or type in a number yourself):

2) Use the Font dialog box above (pick a font size under Size on the right).

3) Use keyboard shortcuts to increase or decrease the font size by set increments.

If you want to ...

... then press:

Increase font size

CTRL-SHIFT-. (Control and Shift and Period)

or

CTRL-]

Decrease font size

CTRL-SHIFT-, (Control and Shift and Comma)

 or

CTRL-[

Open the Font dialog box with the Font Size field selected

CTRL-SHIFT-P

Bold, italics and underline

To make characters boldface, italics, or underline, you can:

  • 1
    Use the B/I/U buttons on the Home tab of the Ribbon to toggle the font formatting on and or OR format a block of text.
  • 2
    Use the keyboard (CTRL-B for boldface, CTRL-I for italics, CTRL-U for underline) to toggle the font formatting on and off as you type OR format a block of text you've selected.
  • 3
    Use the Font dialog box shown above.

Take your pick — use whichever method is easiest for you!

Beyond bold, italics and underline

While boldface, italic and underline will get you through most character formatting challenges, Microsoft Word has more in its arsenal for formatting text (as opposed to inserting special characters or formatting with styles) via the Format Font dialog box (accessible via the Ribbon by clicking the launcher arrow in the bottom right-hand corner of the Font section of the Home tab):

Let's go through what's available here:

  • Font/Font Style/Size — While it’s easier to change fonts directly on the Ribbon via the Font dropdown, this method allows you to visually “test” several fonts before committing with the OK button (see the preview screen at the bottom of the box?).
  • Font Color — Again, this is also accessible via the Ribbon:
  • Underline Style/Color — Unlike the Underline button (or CNTRL-U on the keyboard), these dropdowns will enable you to choose several underline styles, such as double underline, underline words only (not spaces), dashed, dotted, or wavy underlines, as well as choose another color for the underlining.
  • Effects — Some of these special character effects are available via keyboard commands (such as CTRL-= [the control key plus the equal sign] for subscript or CTRL-SHIFT-= for superscript), but this tends to be the preferred way to make formatting changes such as strikethrough and small caps.
  • Default – Notice the “Set As Default” button in the lower left-hand corner? That button enables you to change the default font type/size/style for the document template being used. If you have a specific font that you want to use for most of your documents, you can change that here.

Changing text case (even after it's typed)

If you've ever decided (or been told) <em>after</em> 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.

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

Want a keyboard shortcut instead? Done! Just click SHIFT+F3 repeatedly to cycle through the four choices above.

Let's Review

Here's what we've covered in this tutorial:

  • check
    Changing fonts and sizes using the Ribbon, the Font dialog box, and keyboard shortcuts
  • check
    Styling text with bold, italic and underline using the mouse and keyboard
  • check
    Adjusting other font attributes such as colors, underline styles, and effects like superscript and strikethrough
  • check
    Changing text case

The next tutorial in this series will cover ...

We're going to start covering paragraph formatting next with a discussion of justification and line spacing. See you then!

Opening Microsoft Word Documents

Microsoft Word's really not very different from most word processors in the way it retrieves current documents, and most common editing tasks will be familiar to anyone who's worked with a word processor in Microsoft Windows. Let's go over some of the basics.

Opening an existing document with File > Open

There are several ways to open the document already saved in Microsoft Word. You might remember the File tab and the Quick Access Toolbar from the previous lesson. Either of those can be used to retrieve a document:

Word 2010

In Word 2010, you'll be taken to the familiar Windows Explorer to find the file you're looking for. Simply navigate to the correct drive and folder, double-click on the file name, and you're in.

In Word 2016, here's what you'll get when you click on the File tab:

Word 2016

The default view shows your most recent documents (convenient!). But you can navigate to your OneDrive cloud account or a local or network drive to find any document you need.

Using a shortcut key to open documents

For those of you who prefer to use the keyboard over the mouse, here's a quick shortcut key to take you directly to the File > Open area: CTRL-O (hold down the Control key and type the letter "O" for Open).

Opening an Existing Document via the Quick Access Toolbar

The Quick Access Toolbar works just like File > Open. Simply click on the open folder icon:

... then navigate to the correct folder in Windows Explorer (either on your PC or on your network and double-click on the file name to retrieve it.

The Open File icon should be in your Quick Access Toolbar by default. If it is not, just click on the drop-down arrow at the end of the QAT and make sure Open is checked in the list:

Here, the "new document" button is enabled in the Quick Access Toolbar

Click here for a more detailed demonstration of how to customize your Quick Access Toolbar.

Let's Review

Here's what we've covered in this tutorial:

  • check
    Opening an existing document using the File tab
  • check
    Opening a document with a shortcut key
  • check
    Opening an existing document using the Quick Access Toolbar

The next tutorial in this series will cover ...

Next time, we'll cover basic keyboard commands you can use while typing, Insert versus Overtype mode, and multiple ways you can select text for formatting or copying/moving. See you in the next lesson!

Creating New Microsoft Word Documents

Creating a new, blank document in Microsoft Word is easy. That said, there's always more than one way to do something in Word, and I want you to see several of them so you can pick your favorite. Let's look at three ways you can start a new document.

Creating a blank document

If you simply want a completely blank document with no pre-existing content and with just standard formatting, there are three ways you can create a new document based on what Microsoft Word calls the Normal template:

File Tab

Click on the File tab on the left-hand side of the Ribbon, then click on New:

You'll be asked which document type you want. Choose "Blank Document" ...

Word 2010

Word 2013

Word 2016

Word 365

... and a new blank document will appear in the editing window.

Quick Access Toolbar

This method is even quicker. Floating above the tabs on the Ribbon is something called the Quick Access Toolbar. While that's covered in more detail elsewhere, your Quick Access Toolbar (QAT) gives you one-click access to your most frequently used commands. By default, you'll have at least the New Document, Open Document, and Save Document icons on the QAT. The New Document icon looks like a blank sheet of paper. Click it, and up pops a new document.

If for some reason you don't see that icon on your QAT, it's easy to add. Just click the drop-down arrow at the end of your Quick Access Toolbar and make sure that New has a check mark next to it:

Keyboard Shortcut

Look above at the illustration of the Quick Access Toolbar. See what's written next to the word New? That key combination, <strong>CTRL-N</strong>, is the default keyboard shortcut for starting a new document. (If you find that doesn't work for you, it may be that someone else using your PC has designated that shortcut for another function. To learn how to restore it to its original function, click here.)

Let's Review

Here's what we've covered in this tutorial:

  • check
    Creating a new document using the File tab
  • check
    Creating a new document using the Quick Access Toolbar
  • check
    Creating a new document using the keyboard shortcut CTRL-N

The next tutorial in this series will cover ...

Creating a new document using a template other than the Normal template.

Navigating with your mouse and keyboard

Navigating in a Microsoft Word document is very much like navigating in any word processing program in Microsoft Windows, including WordPerfect. There are, of course, some differences, but regardless of those, let's talk about the various ways you can get around in Microsoft Word.

Navigating with the Mouse

Getting around with your computer's mouse is probably the most intuitive way of navigating Microsoft Word. To move vertically through the document, you can simply drag the scroll bar on the right, or click above or beneath it depending on whether you want to move up or down.

You may notice that there something on the bottom of the vertical scrollbar in Microsoft Word 2010 (sorry, this isn't available in version 2013 or 2016) that you don't see in most programs (not actual size):

Click on that little round button in the middle, and you'll get this menu:

These buttons are called the Select Browse Object menu, which allow you to go up and down in the document by various criteria - by page, heading, graphic, table, etc. We'll leave most of these functions for a later lesson.

In Word versions 2013 and later, you can select browse objects through another tab on the Find and Replace dialog box, accessible by either clicking on one of the PAGE elements on the Status Bar below your document <strong>or</strong> by pressing CTRL-H <strong>or</strong> using the Replace button on the far right edge of the Home tab.

Click PAGE or Section to bring up the GO TO dialog box.

Word 2016's Go To dialog box (accessible via CTRL-H)

While we're here, let's go over some of the basic browse criteria.

Browsing by Page

The double up and down arrows normally allow you to go up and down by document page (as opposed to by screen length, as the Page Up and Page Down buttons on your keyboard do). To go back one page, click the double up arrow in the Select Browse Object menu; to go down one page, click the double down arrow.

There is one caveat, however. If another Browse Object has been previously selected in Word 2010, the double up and double down arrows will browse by that object instead of by page. Yes, it's confusing, but let me illustrate:

Browsing by Other Objects

As you can see from the Select Browse Object menu above, you can browse by virtually any criteria you can think of — by page, section, footnote or endnote, even by line. Clicking on the center button shown above brings up the Browse Object dialog box:

Word 2010's Go To dialog box

One of the really neat things about using Go To is how versatile it is. Notice that you can browse by an absolute value (such as a specific page or section number) or you can put the + or - symbol in front of a number to go back or forward that many objects (in other words, if you put +4 in the field above with Page selected on the left, you'll go forward four pages in the document).

Navigating with the keyboard

If you're a speed typist and prefer to keep your hands off the mouse as much as possible, there are a multitude of keyboard commands available in Word to take you around the document:

To go ...

Press ...

One character to the left

left arrow

One character to the right

right arrow

Up one line

up arrow

Down one line

down arrow

One word to the left

ctrl+left arrow

One word to the right

ctrl+right arrow

One paragraph up

ctrL+up arrow

One paragraph down

ctrl+down arrow

To the end of a line

end

To the beginning of a line

home

To the top of the window

alt+ctrl+page up

To the bottom of the window

ALT+CTRL+PAGE DOWN

Up one screen (scrolling)

page up

Down one screen (scrolling)

page down

To the end of a document

ctrl+end

To the beginning of a document

ctrl+home

(Remember, when the table above says something like KEY1+KEY2, that means you hold down the first key and press the second key while still holding down the first key. If there are three keys listed, you hold down the first two keys and press the third one while still holding down the first two keys.)

Let's Review

Here's what we've covered in this tutorial:

  • check
    Basic mouse navigation skills in Word, including using the Select Browse Object menu (Word 2010 only) and the Go To function on the Find and Replace dialog box (Word versions 2013 & up)
  • check
    Keyboard shortcuts for moving through a document by character, word, paragraph, page, etc.

The next tutorial in this series will cover ...

Changing your View in Microsoft Word, including Zoom levels. See you next time!

Introduction to Microsoft Word’s Ribbon Interface

If you're coming to Microsoft Word from WordPerfect (or even upgrading from Microsoft Word 2003 or earlier), the first task is understanding the Ribbon interface. Microsoft introduced this into its Office suite in the 2007 version, and it's very different from what you're used to in Windows programs, particularly WordPerfect.

What is the Ribbon?

The Ribbon in Microsoft Office organizes the commands you're used to seeing in menus in a graphical interface. The Ribbon is organized in a series of Tabs, which in turn have Command Groups. Let's look at the Home tab as an example:

Microsoft Word Ribbon

Word 2010

Word 2013 (click to view full size)

Word 2016 (click to view full size)

Word 365 (click to view full sizw)

As you can see above, the Home tab is the current tab selected (usually done by clicking on it with your mouse or, if your mouse has a scroll wheel, scrolling through to it). Within the Home tab, there are several Command Groups: Clipboard, Font, Paragraph, Styles, and Editing (listed along the bottom and separated by vertical lines).

Within each of those Command Groups, there are individual <strong>Command Buttons</strong>. For example, in the Font group, you can see there are commands for boldface, italics, underline, and other font-related functions. The same is true for each of the Command Groups. Some of them are one-click buttons, like the boldface command, and some of them are drop-down commands, like the font selector you see just above the boldface/italics/underline commands.

(Having trouble finding a command you need? Here's a great reference from Microsoft: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/download/details.aspx?id=15614)

Dialog Box Launchers

There's one more feature in each of these Command Groups, but it's a little difficult to see. Since there's not enough room to store every command on the Ribbon, many of the Command Groups feature a Dialog Launcher as a downward-facing arrow in the lower right-hand corner. Clicking on that Launcher brings up a dialog box that allows access to more commands within that Command Group. For example, let's click on the Paragraph Dialog Launcher and see what happens:

If you're familiar with earlier versions of Microsoft Word, you'll recognize this dialog box. In fact, most of the dialog boxes brought up by these launchers will look familiar to anyone who's worked with Microsoft Word before. These dialog boxes work the same way here as they do in other Windows applications: select a command or adjust a setting, then click the OK button.

Contextual Tabs

The tabs you see above are not all the tabs are available in Microsoft Word. Occasionally, when you're using a particular feature like Tables, Headers and Footers, or Pictures, a set of Contextual Tabs will appear on the right-hand side of the Ribbon. To illustrate, I'm going to put a table in my document and show you the contextual tabs (Table Tools) that pop up for tables on the far right:

Microsoft Office Ribbon - Table Tools

Word 2010

Word 2013 (click to view full size)

Word 2016 (click to view full size)

Word 365 (click to view full size)

Now that I've placed a table in my document and have my cursor within it, two more tabs pop up under Table Tools: Design and Layout. If I click outside of the table in my document, those tabs will disappear. But anytime I have my cursor within a table, Table Tools will pop up to give me all the available commands for formatting tables.

(You may have noticed that, in the screenshots above, I have a Developer tab in my Microsoft Word. Without getting too complicated, it is possible to enable or disable individual tabs, but that will be the subject of another tutorial.)

Let's Review

Here's what we've covered in this tutorial:

  • check
    What the Ribbon in Microsoft Word is
  • check
    How commands are organized into Command Groups within the Ribbon
  • check
    How you can access each Command Group's dialog box using the Dialog Launcher
  • check
    What Contextual Tabs are, and when you will see them displayed

Whew! We covered a lot of ground today!

The next tutorial in this series will cover ...

A video tour of the Backstage View, which gives you options on saving and printing your document. Stick around!

13 Document Cleanup Clinic: The Case of the Stretched-Out Line

I love nice, neat, fully-justified text in documents (really, who doesn't?). It's one of the great advantages word processing has over the ancient typewriter. But it can introduce some problems into your documents when the spacing between words (or even within words) isn't quite right. Calculating that extra spacing is apparently still a real challenge for Microsoft Word. Sometimes, however, we as users unwittingly introduce problems that make it even more of a challenge.

For instance, if you've been known to copy text from your old documents into your new ones, you've probably seen this happen:

What on earth is going on with that last line? You know there aren't really a bunch of extra spaces between the words. What else could be causing this, though?

Before you resign yourself to setting all your paragraphs to be left-justified, let me show you a little tip that'll save you the trouble.

Keep reading →