Category Archives for "Video Tutorials"

8 The Document Assembly System Right Under Your Nose

Once you've pretty much mastered the basics of Word—you can create and open documents, you can format text, etc.—you may be wondering, "What's next?" Oh, sure, there are features you can't quite get your head around, tasks you wish Word could do (I'm looking at you, former WordPerfect users), things you wish were easier.

But surely there's more benefit to using a word processor than being able to directly edit the text after your first draft, right?

And yet that's how so many people use word processors in general and Microsoft Word in particular. Like a glorified typewriter.

Even if your document is pretty well-formatted (and doesn't commit some heinous sin like using the Tab key to force a hanging indent), it is possible to move beyond simply viewing a word processing document as a convenient way to edit something later.

Want proof? Here's a scenario for you: You're in the middle of creating a document, maybe some discovery answers (forgive me; I work in litigation, so that's where my brain goes automatically), and you know you're going to need a notarized acknowledgement for your client to swear that the answers are true and correct, blah, blah, blah, and to have his/her signature witnessed and sealed by an authority.

What do you do now? If you're like most of the people I've encountered in law offices, you start racking your brain for the last time you did one of these. Let's see, did we have to do one of these in that Jones v. Smith matter? Oh, yeah. So now you start combing through the document management system to find that prior example. You pull that document up, scroll down 20 pages to find the notary acknowledgement block, select it with your mouse, copy it, switch over to your document-in-progress, paste it, oops that messed up the formatting so you have to fix that, make sure you've pulled out the client-specific information and substituted the correct names, updated the date ...

How long did THAT exercise take you? Contrast that ... with this:

Keep reading →

2 Table of Authorities – The Ultimate Guide

It’s the one legal profession-specific feature in Microsoft Word. And, judging from some of the requests I receive from my newsletter readers, it’s also one of the most intimidating. It’s the dreaded Table of Authorities.

(Cue: Scary music)

In my experience, few things strike more fear into the hearts of legal support staff than having to put out a brief with a Table of Authorities. (Close second: Table of Contents) I suspect the bad rap TOAs get has more to do with how seldom most people have to deal with them (and thus, how unfamiliar they are) than with any real complexity of the feature itself. In other words, you can do this. And I’m going to help you break this down, step-by-step, starting with marking your citations.

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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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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.

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 →

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. 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 →

9 How to set tabs (without tearing your hair out)

It ought to be pretty simple, really. Even though Microsoft Word, by default, sets left tabs every half inch (at least in the U.S. version – elsewhere may vary), sometimes you need something different. Even if only for a particular part of your document. So, how on earth do you set tabs in Microsoft Word?

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4 Reader Question: Incrementing numbers in headers

I received an interesting email from a reader last week, and it was a variation on a theme I’d covered on this blog quite a while back: how to use autonumbering for court exhibits.

I say “variation” because, unlike my original post, this reader wanted to embed the automatic exhibit number in a footer rather than in the main document:

I am able to enter sequential exhibit numbers on the main parts of each page of my document by inserting the AutoNum category in Field codes. Is there a way to do the same in a footer/header?

If you’ve never actually tried to use certain field codes like AutoNum in a header or footer, you’ve probably never found out (the hard way) that not all of field codes work in the header/footer. Certain field codes will throw an error if you try to use them in headers and footers:

Oops.

So, if you can’t use the automatically incrementing AutoNum field, what can you use?

Keep reading →

When just the page number won’t do

A friend of mine is working on an 11th Circuit Court of Appeals (U.S.) brief, and she’s run up on an interesting problem, one not already addressed in my post about sections in appellate briefs.

One of the requirements is that the Certificate of Interested Persons section should have page footers like this:

So, the number immediately after the “C-” is the current page number, and the number on the right-hand side is the total number of pages that section has.

Now, if you’re not familiar with how to put sections into a brief to control pagination, then I’m going to refer you here for the complete video tutorial. (My friend’s already seen this one, so she’s got this down pat.)

The part she’s having trouble with, though, is inserting the “C-1”, “of” and the last number.

So here’s how to do that:

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:

The problem there is the contextual part. I think the macro was freaking out because it didn’t find the Header/Footer Tools menu from which to draw the Insert Page Number command, so it scrambled. (The whole “macro disappears when I log out” thing? I got no clue.)

So I suggested he program the “Insert Page Number” thing into his macro from the Quick Parts menu instead:

For you code jockeys out there, here’s how that works out:

Sub test()
'
' test Macro
'
'
Selection.TypeText Text:="Page "
Selection.Fields.Add Range:=Selection.Range, Type:=wdFieldEmpty, Text:= _
"PAGE \* Arabic ", PreserveFormatting:=True
End Sub

Reader’s response?

Worked perfectly.  Thanks again for your help.

Just what I like to hear!

Got a question of your own? Ask it via my Ask the Guru page!

1 Summarizing Excel data with Pivot Tables

If you’ve ever been presented with an Excel spreadsheet with a gosh-awful number of rows and/or columns in it and assigned the task of making sense of all those numbers (grouping, summarizing, or making other calculations), you need to learn about Pivot Tables.

Okay, people, I hear yawning out there! Seriously, this is a good skill to have in your back pocket, even if you only work with Excel occasionally, because it saves so much time. So to motivate you properly, here’s a fun little YouTube introduction to the whys behind Pivot Tables:

Basically, a Pivot Table is a way to summarize columns and rows in a meaningful way. Instead of your having to manipulate rows and rows of data by hand (which, depending on the size of the spreadsheet, could take hours), you can select the data to be summarized, go to the Insert tab, click Pivot Table, and tell Excel how you want those rows summarized.

For example, say your client is involved in an employment discrimination suit. The employer has produced a very large spreadsheet showing all the time entries recorded, including this information:

  • Timekeeper initials
  • Date worked
  • Hours worked
  • Work code
  • Description of work performed

If you’re being asked to figure out how many hours timekeeper CAL (the plaintiff) clocked in Word Code 01 during the month of June, you don’t want to have to manually add those hours. Sure, you could sort the rows and put in a summary row, but even that’s not necessary with Pivot Tables.

A pivot table allows you to take a spreadsheet that looks like this (times several hundred or thousand rows);

And turn it into a summary table that looks like this:

And it just takes a few mouse clicks. Let Excel do all the work for you!

Here’s a video demonstration:

[To view this full-screen, click the button in the lower right-hand corner]

Where could you put this trick to use? Let me know in the comments below.

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 →

2 Quick-and-dirty text sorting in Microsoft Word

A reader wrote me this past week with a little problem, one that they were taking a few too many steps to solve:

We often have to decide whether to capture data in Excel or in a Word document using a “table” format. We usually like the look and editing function better in Word because we are mostly tracking text entries with some date columns, not large amounts of numerical data. Am I correct that if we use Word, the data in the cells can’t be re-sorted within the document, say by date and then by last name? Assuming that’s correct, we often need to use Excel. Is there a simple way to take the data from an Excel spreadsheet and plunk it into a Word document where it will look better?

Good news: it’s really very easy to sort tabular data in Microsoft Word, so there’s (usually) no need to use Excel as an intermediary step.

To sort the table, select the entire table by clicking on the plus sign that shows up in the upper left-hand corner of the table whenever you hover your mouse over it:

Word table data to be sorted

On the Home tab in Word, you’ll see a button in the Paragraph section that looks like this:  Word Sort Button

Click that to bring up the Sort dialog:

Microsoft Word Sort Dialog Box

Usually, if your cursor is anywhere in the table, Word will sense that and adjust this dialog box accordingly (i.e. sense which columns have dates, etc.).  You will, however, want to be sure the right radio button under “My list has [Header row] [No header row]” is selected so it won’t sort your header along with the data.  (That also will pick up the header field names, as you can see above.)

But what if your data isn’t already in a table?  If it’s a pretty straightforward list of first names and last names, for example, then that’s pretty easy too (with some limitations):

(Note: To view full-screen, click the button in the lower right-hand corner of the video player.)

How can you use this sorting feature?  Let me know in the comments below.

27 Printing those monster Excel sheets

My friend Karen has issues.  No, I’m not talking about those kinds of issues.  She’s got issues with Microsoft Excel.

Every time her boss gives her one of those monster Microsoft Excel spreadsheets (the kind that span 10 pages across and have 20,000 rows of data) and says, “Print this,” she panics.  And then she comes to my desk and begs me to print it for her.

I can’t say I blame her.  Unless you’ve worked with Microsoft Excel a fair bit, the prospect of formatting something that large for printing is pretty daunting.  (I always felt the same way about Lotus 1-2-3 for DOS back in its heyday.  Yes, I am that old.)

I promised her I’d break this process down for her so, in case I’m on vacation one day when she really, really needs something printed now, she’ll know how to do it herself.

Keep reading →

9 When a tab is not just a tab, part 1: decimal tabs

We all know what a tab is, right?  It’s that key near the upper left-hand corner of the keyboard we press to indent the first line of a paragraph.

Sometimes, though, simply moving the cursor over half an inch isn’t what we want.

Take, for example, something like this:

Those numbers look okay — they seem to line up pretty well.  But how did this person get this result?  Let’s turn on Show/Hide (that paragraph symbol on the Home tab in the Paragraph section) to see the codes:

Ah, I see.  This person used Left Tabs (the default tabs you get when you hit the Tab key) to move the cursor to the left (signified by the left-pointing arrows above), then hit the space bar (the dots above) to get the numbers to line up.

But how well do they really line up?  Let’s turn on the gridlines (found on the View tab) to see:

Oooooh. Those numbers (and decimals) don’t line up so well after all.  But what else can you do?

Decimal tabs!

Keep reading →

7 Creating a custom timeline in Excel

Recently, a fellow reader, Jessica from Miami, asked if I would help her figure out a way to create an event timeline in a format her boss is partial to:

Example of a timeline created in Microsoft Excel She had tried to find templates online, but nothing really seemed geared to a legal context.

I tried creating a solution in Word, but it was less than satisfactory.  So, given that Jessica was pretty comfortable with Excel, I developed a template for her there.

Changing the orientation of text within cells (vertical, horizontal, or diagonal, as in the example above) is actually pretty easy — here, I’ll show you:

(To view in full-screen mode, click the button in the lower right-hand corner.)

There’s other formatting done here too — the cells are wrapped (the Wrap Text checkbox above), I shifted the vertical alignment to Bottom, and in some cases, to get the middle cell to look more “centered,” I added a hard return before the text (with ALT-ENTER).  There’s a fair bit of eyeballing that has to be done to get it to look right, and it’s all a judgment call according to your personal preference.

What uses could you find for this trick?  Let me know in the comments below.

(P.S.: Jessica seemed to be pretty happy with her new template last I heard!)

1 How to put a different footer on the last page of a document

With a hat-tip to Susan Harkins at TechRepublic.com, I’m going to show you one of the neatest Word tricks I think I’ve ever seen … and exactly how I’m going to put it to use to solve a long-standing problem: getting something to show up in the footer on every page except the last.

Around our office, we do a lot of wills.  A lot. And the attorneys who do them like for their clients to initial all of the non-signature pages whenever they execute the will itself.  (It keeps anybody from getting cute later and substituting a page before taking it to the Probate Judge.  People are sneaky that way.)  So we put “Initials: _______” in the footer on the right margin so it prints on every page.

I always thought my preferred solution, using Section Breaks, was the last word in solving the problem of how to get that footer text to not show up on the last page.  But noooooo.  Susan’s got a better idea: embedding a custom function in there.

Here’s the video demonstration:

Keep reading →

43 Video: Configuring Rules in Microsoft Outlook to automate message handling

Getting a headache from all that Inbox overload?  Chances are, almost half of those incoming emails can be handled automatically.

Think I’m joking?  Take a look at what’s come in today, and I’ll show you what I mean. Out of the messages you’ve already received today, there are probably several that meet these criteria:

Keep reading →