Category Archives for "Reader Questions"

Reader Question: Forcing TOC entries to wrap at a specific point

I received a message from a reader earlier this week that went something like this:

I have a question about table of contents. ... I just want to know if you can wrap table of contents entries in the table of contents so that if they're multi-line entries, [they end up with an] equal amount of text on each line. I know that there's the indenting but I don't know ... if that will work to get an equal amount of text on that, on different entries. So kind of complicated question for me.

It IS kind of a complicated question, because the answer depends on which method he used to create the TOC.

Keep reading →

6 How to autonumber exhibits with the SEQ field

A reader came to me recently with a dilemma: He needed to create a document that had lettered exhibits sprinkled throughout, in a format that looked like this:

Example of autonumbered exhibit reference using SEQ field

Okay, so far, so good. Autonumbering I can handle.

But here was his other requirement: He wanted to be able to generate a list of the exhibits at the end of the document (including the description of the exhibits as shown above) so his assistant would know what documents to gather and attach.

At first, I proposed making the list at the bottom of the document first, then cross-referencing within the document. But he countered that the exhibits within the document would be dynamic. In other words, he might be adding or subtracting exhibits within the document, so they needed to autonumber within the document itself.

That's another wrinkle.

I had to think about this one for a bit. It's not impossible (in fact, it's not even really all that hard), but it does require deploying several techniques:

Keep reading →

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.

Keep reading →

31 Reader Question: How to automatically number your discovery requests … in 5 keystrokes

If your law firm does litigation work, you’ve probably prepared lots of discovery. And you may have wondered if there’s any way you can (a) avoid typing the phrase “Interrogatory No. X” in Microsoft Word over and over again and (b) get that X to be an automatically incrementing number.

If so, the answer is, yes, you can!

One of the reasons I love reader questions is that the best ones get me flipping through my reference books, scouring the Internet, and testing, testing, testing, trying to find a solution to a problem I’ve been wondering about myself (but never got around to examining).

Such was the case with this reader question:

I’ve been searching for the best way to create auto numbering for discovery requests: dare I say in WordPerfect I had the most amazing macros that used “counter” and creating a set of discovery was a snap. I’ve struggled to find something workable in Word. Some people use Discovery Request No. X – Interrogatory; others use Interrogatories No. X, Requests for Production No. X, Requests for Admission No. X throughout a set of discovery. There has to be a way to do this in Word, and I’ve tried several different approaches, none of which worked out that well. Would you please steer me in the right direction? Thanks very, very much.

I tossed back a rather glib answer about using the AutoNumLgl field code to number the discovery requests, and she threw in this little wrinkle: her attorneys like to play mix-and-match with their discovery. In other words, they may put in a couple of interrogatories, then throw in a related request for production, then another interrogatory, then a request for admission that’s related to that interrogatory.

Um. Okay. So they’re going to need three numbering sequences operating independently. Back to the drawing board.

Keep reading →

2 Reader Question: How to double indent faster

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

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

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

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

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

Keep reading →

Easier date entry in Excel

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

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

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

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

Reader Question: How to get footnote citations to show up in Table of Authorities

Julie contacted me recently with a real puzzler:

I am working in Microsoft Word 2010.  For some reason when I am marking a citation, it will not include the case from a footnote in the Table of Authorities.  It will pick up a statute or rule, but not [a case from] the footnote.  Any suggestions??

Ooooookaaaaay. Something’s really amiss here. And what made it more puzzling was, when I tried to replicate her problem on my own computer, mine worked just fine. (I actually kind of hate when that happens, because then I really feel stumped.)

Turns out, though, this a real problem that Microsoft knows about. Fortunately, it has a real solution.

Keep reading →

2 Reader Question: How to embed the current paragraph number in your text

One reader who works in insurance defense law (a woman after my own heart — so do I) asked me this question recently:

In a case where I am automatically numbering the beginning of each paragraph (sometimes up to 100)...and then have to refer to the same paragraph number in the text (e.g., 1. Deny the allegations contained in paragraph "1"), how can I get the number in the text to match the corresponding number of each specific paragraph so that if I have to delete a paragraph, I will not have to go into every paragraph to change the text to say responding to paragraph"2" to correspond with the actual numbered paragraph? I know it has something to do with using fields in the text.

Again, a woman after my own heart. She's trying to automate something to minimize the amount of repetitive editing she'll have to do as the document changes. I like people who think ahead like that.

And she's right: it does have "something to do with fields in the text." But which one is appropriate here? The answer may surprise you ... and you might find a use for it in your own documents, too.

Keep reading →

24 Reader Question: Getting rid of hard line breaks in pasted text

Reader Benjamin e-mailed me recently with this request:

I've got text (imported badly - I don't have access to the original source) which is spaced badly in Microsoft Word 2010 — meaning I have to manually cursor + delete then space-bar to put it back together without the green wiggles.It's time consuming and I would like to know if there is an automated alternative. I'm sure I'm one of millions who are suffering with this. Can you help us?

He attached a video demonstrating his problem, which immediately made clear what he was up against:

When he says he's "one of millions who are suffering with this," I believe him. Because I'm one of them, too. And between the two of us, we might've come up with a good solution.

Keep reading →

2 Reader Question: Cannot select single cell, row, or column

One reader wrote in recently that she was having a problem selecting cells in Microsoft Excel:

When in a spreadsheet and I click on a line it selects at least four lines.

In other words, she couldn’t select a single cell or just one row in the spreadsheet. It was as if her mouse cursor had a mind of its own!

Well, this was certainly a new one for me. I personally had never run across that particular problem, so I had no solution off the top of my head.

So what did I do? I went to Microsoft Answers (http://answers.microsoft.com) and did a little search. And not one but two possible solutions presented themselves.

Keep reading →

3 From the Comments: Cool TOA trick

One of the things I love most about doing this blog is what I learn from readers. People often chime in on the comments to suggest solutions to problems others are having or better ways of doing things.

One recent comment especially deserves its own spotlight.  Debbie Leonard Lovejoy stepped forward to help fellow commenter Ariel with a tricky formatting problem in a Table of Authorities post. Specifically, this is what Ariel wanted:

I’ve searched high and low for a way to automatically format the cases in the TOA so the case name up to the comma is on a line by itself and then the reporter information and year and the page number are on a second, indented line, but no luck. I know I can manually do this just before printing by editing the table but I lose that formatting when the table updates and would like a more permanent solution if one exists. Strangest thing is that on the “Table of Authorities” dialog box, the example table in the Print Preview box has it formatted the way I’d like (though I imagine that is more a result of limited space in that box than some taunting and unavailable formatting option). Any idea? Thanks!

I had nothing. The only thing I could suggest was to "edit the right indent of the paragraphs to make them wrap a lot sooner than they would otherwise (in other words, not so close to the page number on the right margin)." Close (sort of), but no cigar.

Here's Debbie's much better solution:

Keep reading →

4 Reader Question: Calculate difference between two dates in Microsoft Excel

A reader contacted me recently with a deceptively simple Microsoft Excel question: “How do I calculate the difference between two dates?”

I say “deceptively simple” because the answer depends upon the context, namely, whether the two dates being compared are actually embedded in cells within the Microsoft Excel spreadsheet.

Keep reading →

20 Reader Question: Type Once, Repeat Many?

Ever had one of those forms that repeats someone’s name or some other piece of information, um, repeatedly? Say, a will or a power of attorney or something similar?

If you’ve tried to make yourself a homegrown forms database, knowing that you’ll have to go in each time and fill in the variable information (name, he/she, his/her, son/daughter/children, etc.) in all (and I do mean all) the right places, then you can appreciate this reader’s dilemma:

Keep reading →

9 Reader question: Page number macro misfire

One reader recently took up my challenge to not run screaming from macros ... and was a little disappointed in the results.

I defined a macro successfully [to insert "Page" and the page number], with a button on the Quick Access Tool Bar. It works until I log off. After re-entering and trying the macro, I get an error message “Run Time error 5941 The requested member of the collection does not exist.” Any suggestions?

A macro that only runs until you log off. Well, that's a puzzler.

As I told him in our email exchange, I've noticed that in Word 2010, macros are sometimes spotty in picking up settings from actions you take in the Ribbon. (It used to work fine — not sure what's changed.) I myself had a similar problem with a macro I tried to do for a watermark.

I suspected he was attempting to embed the page number command using Word's Insert Page Number command from the Header/Footer Tools contextual ribbon menu:

Keep reading →