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Document Collaboration in Microsoft Word

Document Collaboration with Microsoft Word

Learn how to effectively co-edit documents with other Word users using Track Changes and other features on Microsoft Word's Review tab

Do you co-edit documents with others?

More and more, we're creating and editing legal documents with other people. Setting aside the obvious people problems (differing opinions, etc.), there's the problem of dealing with the technology:

  • check
    How do the various editors indicate their changes and comments?
  • check
    How do we keep track of the document's history?
  • check
    How do we make sure that the final document doesn't contain any metadata that could be transmitted to an adverse party?

Right now, I'm putting together a course on using Microsoft Word in document collaboration. It's going to be centered around the Review tab, which contains the Track Changes feature plus other collaborative editing tools you might not be aware of.

So far, the course contains the following lessons:

  • Automatically marking document edits with Track Changes
  • Inserting comments with Track Changes
  • Showing, hiding and printing tracked changes
  • Reviewing, accepting and rejecting others' edits

Other lessons being written right now include:

  • Configuring Track Changes Options
  • Restricting others' edits in collaboratively-edited documents (both text and Styles)
  • Comparing two documents to produce a redline/legal blackline
  • Scrubbing metadata to ensure your edits/comments don't get broadcast to adverse parties

If you'd like to get in on the ground floor of this learning opportunity at a discount, click the button below. As soon as the course has gone through this beta-testing run with an introductory group, I'll be increasing the price.

Assemble Documents Faster Launch Bundle

Are you …

An attorney who needs to develop more efficient processes to offer more flat or other alternative fee arrangements?
A lawyer who wants to streamline document creation and editing to turn work around faster?
A paralegal, legal assistant or other law office staff member who’s being crushed under a heavy workload in the face of layoffs or hiring freezes?

If you work in a law office, chances are you do a lot of your daily work in Microsoft Word. After all, documents are central to virtually every law practice. Pleadings, agreements, letters … they’re the tangible “work product” of all that thinking and analyzing and strategizing you do every day.

Yet, even as technology advances, it seems we still create and edit documents the same way we did in the 1990s:

  1. Find a sample document from a prior matter with comparable facts and photocopy it
  2. Take a red pen and mark it up with revised information
  3. Make the necessary word processing changes, including updating dates and other variable information
  4. Repeat steps 2 and 3 over and over until you reach perfection!

For a long time, we could all say, “if it’s not broke, don’t fix it.” But The New Legal Normal changed all that.

How “The New Legal Normal” changed our outlook … forever

Let’s face it: when you’re billing clients by the hour, efficiency’s not much of a concern. Sure, you’ve still got deadlines and need to put out work product quickly, but fine-tuning processes isn’t something to be overly concerned about.

But The New Legal Normal (courtesy of the recent Great Recession) has forced all of us to rethink everything. A recent study shows that over 80% of law firms are now billing at least some work on a fixed or other alternative fee basis. And those changes are only going to spread to more and more law practices as clients demand cost-saving measures.

The time to change is … yesterday

If we’re increasingly being forced to bill on something other than an hourly basis, then we have to:

  • Figure out methods for creating and editing documents faster
  • Become more aware of the processes we use in daily work
  • Find ways to shave time off routine processes so we can put out more work product in less time (and sometimes with fewer people)
  • Eliminate the bottlenecks in how we do things
  • Use the tools we have more intelligently

There’s no silver bullet

The temptation here is to think that there’s some tool somewhere that can make it all better in one fell swoop. The bad news is, that’s a fantasy.

But actually that’s good news, because making incremental improvements in the tools we already have (e.g., Microsoft Word) is something you can do without spending money on new software or loads of time implementing it. It’s not only the least interruptive method for improvement, it’s the most cost-effective, too.

Who am I to tell you all this?

I’m Deborah Savadra, and I’ve worked in the legal field in various capacities (legal assistant, paralegal, and software trainer) for over 20 years. I’ve not only created lots of legal documents myself, I’ve helped others at their desks by solving problems they had with their own documents, problems that could be solved with just a bit more skill with Microsoft Word.

Since the Great Recession of 2008, I’ve been subject to the same conditions as you: staff reductions forcing fewer people to take on more work, increasing client demands for discounts, flat fees, and other alternative billing arrangements, and law firms changing (and, in some cases, failing outright) because of the New Legal Normal. I’ve watched co-workers walk past my desk, belongings in a box, because the firm I worked for decided that they required less staff, and those of us who were left found ourselves buried under the increased workload.

As all of this change has been happening around me, I’ve found myself in a “survival of the fittest” environment. I’ve been asked to take on more and more work, so I’ve been forced to develop techniques to shortcut my document creation/editing process. Over time, I’ve managed to assemble an arsenal of these techniques that have slashed my turnaround time in Microsoft Word.

“Okay, this works for you. Will it work for me?”

I’ve taught several of these techniques to my readers at Legal Office Guru, and the response has echoed my experience:

[quote name=”Michelle”]I work for an equipment leasing company and support our legal/documentation department. Thanks to you, my Word skills have significantly improved and saved me a LOT of time and frustration. I now use Auto Text for Company name, address, and managers names and will be on the lookout for more![/quote] [quote name=”Diane”]I am so glad that I took the time to watch this video. I will use Quick Parts for: Certificates of Service, Subpoenas, Deferred Prosecution Agreements, Notary inserts, Rule 803 notifications, standard cover letters, and on and on. I am so grateful to learn this valuable tool. Thank you. [/quote] [quote name=”Gina”]I will use [these techniques] for Notary inserts. … I have the various acknowledgements saved as one document and up til now have to open that document, go to the particular acknowledgment and copy and paste. No more, looking forward to next video. I knew [Quick Parts] existed but never took the time to figure it out. [/quote] [quote name=”Jayme”]Oh my gosh – I’m going to be so much smarter than my attorneys! Thank you! You are a genius with these videos. Keep them coming! [/quote]

“I don’t have time to re-learn Microsoft Word”

The good news here is that you don’t have to learn the entire system at once. Remember, this is about incremental improvements. You can learn one technique in a few minutes in each lesson, spend some time applying it to your documents to save time, then come back and learn another technique. You don’t have to set aside your work for hours or days to re-learn Word. You can learn in bite-sized chunks, apply what you’ve learned in real life, and continually learn new techniques the same way.

What the Assemble Documents Faster Course contains

Right now, during this introductory period, the course contains 30 lessons focusing on things like:

  • Creating reusable text assets to deploy in future documents with two mouse clicks
  • Getting out of fiddly typing and formatting for words like id. and F.3d
  • Inserting symbols like § and ¶ without reaching for the mouse
  • Customizing ready-to-go automatic paragraph numbering schemes so you don’t have to manually adjust settings like indents every time you start a new document
  • Saving specific Quick Parts like headers/footers to the correct gallery so they’re more accessible
  • Embedding self-updating information like dates and cross-references
  • Making templates with custom Styles to jump-start documents with essential elements already in place
  • Moving Building Blocks from one template to another

You’ll want to be part of this introductory offer

This is the first time I’m offering Assemble Documents Faster, so I’m making a special offer to you. As a Charter Member, you’ll have the opportunity to get your specific questions answered one-on-one. I’ll be demonstrating these techniques in live, interactive webinars where we’ll talk about specific issues you want addressed for your specific law practice and document types. If you’re not able to attend live, don’t worry — I’ll post replays within the course so you can watch them later.

I’m only offering these live “office hours” classes to those who enroll in this special offer. And once I close the doors, that opportunity won’t be available to future students at this price.

Bonus Downloads

To jump-start the time savings you’ll experience with these techniques, I’m also offering a couple of bonus items:

These two items will be permanently available within the course area in a “downloads” module, so you won’t have to search your email inbox for either of these ever again!

What’s the investment?

Because you’re a loyal subscriber and you’ve attended the Assemble Documents Faster Workshop, I’m offering this course to you for a limited time for only $47. This course normally sells to the public for $67, so I’m offering you a discount of $20 if you enroll now.

Think about that. For less than the price of a software manual (they’re often more than twice that price!), you can get an interactive course that’s focused on the specific application of these techniques to legal documents.

I’m offering a 60-day money-back guarantee, so you can’t lose

As always, I want to make absolutely sure you’re getting your money’s worth (and then some!) from anything I offer. If you decide within 60 days that this course isn’t delivering the sort of changes you want to see in your daily work, just shoot me an email at [email protected] and I’ll refund your money ASAP. I’m serious. If I’m not truly delivering something that’s helping you, I don’t want your money!

You can’t wait long

Because I can only take so many students into such an intensely interactive course, I’m closing the doors on Friday, March 3, 2017 at 10:00 p.m. Central (US) Time. Enroll before time runs out!

Efficient Lawyer’s Guide to Word

Attn: Legal Professionals …

If you work in a law office, you probably use Microsoft Word. And it probably frustrates you.

confused_userYou spend a large percentage of your day sitting in front of a computer monitor, and if you’re not sending emails, you’re probably using Microsoft Word. After all, so much of legal practice involves creating and editing documents.

But just because you use something every day doesn’t mean you’re getting the most out of it. And with the way law practice is changing these days, you can’t afford to miss any opportunities to extract the maximum performance and productivity out of the tools you use every day.

Think about the last document you edited. How much time did you spend looking for certain features or struggling with the bad formatting that someone else put there?

Considering how much of your day is spent in front of Microsoft Word, and how important efficiency is becoming in law offices everywhere, doesn’t it make sense to learn how to use this tool well so that you can deal successfully with your ever-increasing workload?

Why most Word training is a waste of time

Oh, you’ve tried to learn Microsoft Word on your own. You took that all-day training class your firm offered, only to be so overwhelmed you forgot most of it by the time you got back to your desk.

Or, you bought a book. But you’re too busy actually working to read a manual. Or maybe you’ve searched for help online, only to find confusing and conflicting instructions.

You’re not the problem – the training is

You see, traditional ways of learning how to use software set you up to fail. Classroom instruction dumps too much information on you all at once. Most software manuals are reference books for experienced users, not instructions for beginners.

And searching for help online? Forget it. Even a simple search brings back screen after screen of confusing (and often outright wrong) instructions.

“This was awesome! I needed this help so badly. You just solved a problem I’ve been having for a decade! Thank you infinitely.” (Robyn – Commenter at Why Your Pages Break in Weird Places)

Where can you get the help you really need?

You know you need to update your skills to do your job better. After all, it’s frustrating (and time-consuming) to struggle with even basic tasks in Microsoft Word. If only someone could take you by the hand and show you, step-by-step, how to make Microsoft Word do your bidding (and maybe even translate your WordPerfect tasks to Microsoft Word).

I’ve been where you are

The Legal Office Guru herself!

Hi, my name is Deborah Savadra (a.k.a. the Legal Office Guru). I’ve worked in and around law firms for over 20 years as a legal secretary, paralegal, and software trainer.

Like a lot of you, I started off with WordPerfect. Back when I began working in a law firm, WordPerfect was still in the DOS version. (Yes, I am that old!)

Geek that I am, I learned all sorts of ways to get the most out of WordPerfect. I had my “WordPerfect Function Key Claw” perfected, I programmed macros right and left, and when I wasn’t doing my own work, I was walking around helping the other staff with their WordPerfect challenges. I made WordPerfect sing!

But then came the day I left the legal field. In the “outside world,” they only used Microsoft Word. I was forced to adapt. I took classes, pored over software manuals, and generally figured it all out (often the hard way).

Fast forward a few years. After moving into software consulting and training, I found myself drawn back to working with law firms. And because I had so much Microsoft Word experience under my belt, I became the “go-to girl” for anyone still having trouble making the transition from WordPerfect (and trust me, a lot of folks are still struggling).

So I’ve seen (and heard) it all: the hair pulling, the fist pounding, and every other variation of “Word Rage.” I’ve been asked every question, seen every formatting foul-up, and performed major surgery on some seriously messed up Microsoft Word documents. (I’ve also stopped several people from throwing their computers out the window!)

I’ve made the leap to Word — and I can help you make it, too!

Of course, being the “Word expert-in-residence” in a law firm, I get a lot of the same questions over and over again. So, to keep from repeating myself, and to save a little time, I started a blog of Microsoft Office tutorials. That way, I could often refer people to a specific blog post (often with video) when they had a question. It made my expertise available when I wasn’t.

But blogs are, well, … disorganized by their very nature. What you need is a systematic, step-by-step way to learn Microsoft Word.

“Thank you from all of us WordPerfect lovers! Tabs was the one thing in Word that did make us want to “tear our hair out.” We do a lot of documents in outline form so the tabs change frequently and it would be so frustrating!” – Marilyn B., Commenter at ‘How to set tabs (without tearing your hair out

The solution? The Efficient Lawyer’s Guide to Word!

I’ve taken the literally hundreds of quick tips I’ve written over the past three years (including detailed instructional videos) and organized them into an e-course: The Efficient Lawyer’s Guide to Word.

This 44-lesson e-course starts by teaching you the most basic tasks in Microsoft Word. After each lesson you complete, you’ll click the Next button to go to a new lesson teaching you yet another critical Word skill. And the entire course is designed especially for the legal professional, right down to the examples used in the illustrations. The lessons cover Word version 2010 through 2016 (and even the online version of Office 365), so even if it’s been a while since you’ve upgraded, this course has you covered!

Why this beats traditional Word training, hands down

This sort of bit-by-bit instruction mimics the way you naturally learn a new skill. After all, you didn’t start speaking in full sentences as a baby, did you? You started by imitating the sounds you heard your parents make. Then you gradually started forming whole words. Eventually, you strung those words into sentences.

That’s the way most people learn things – step-by-step. And that’s how The Efficient Lawyer’s Guide to Word works, too. It presents you with one simple building block, then another, then another. With each lesson, you’re building your Microsoft Word skills gradually, naturally, and painlessly.

“Great! Another little skill to help organize my docs better. Thanks for the tip :)” – Rich, Commenter at ‘When a tab is not just a tab, part 1: Decimal Tabs’

Just a few minutes a day is all it takes

Each lesson in The Efficient Lawyer’s Guide to Word covers just one set of skills. That’s it. No information overload here! There’s no way you’ll get overwhelmed, because between each incremental lesson, you can take a week to hone those skills — whenever it’s convenient for you — before your next lesson.

This time, you’ll learn Microsoft Word painlessly, because you’ll learn it the way you learn other skills — naturally.

In less time than you spend fetching your daily coffee or opening your mail, The Efficient Lawyer’s Guide to Word will help you:

  • Spend less time struggling with your documents
  • Reduce your frustration with Microsoft Word
  • Save money you’d otherwise spend on expensive (but ineffective) training courses and books

“This is one of those things I’ve struggled with for MANY years and never knew there was a solution. Thank you!! Thank you!!” – Libby, Commenter at ‘Copying Vertical Columns of Text in Word’

Let me ask you …

If you could breeze through Microsoft Word every day, how much easier would your job (and your life) be?

How much less time would you spend on documents if you weren’t constantly asking yourself, “How do I do that in Word?”

How much extra time would you have to finish all the other things piling up on your desk?

How stress-free would your workday be if Word was just as easy as WordPerfect?

Would those results be worth $67 (US) to you? Because that’s what this detailed 44-lesson course (complete with video) costs.

Compare $67 to the cost of other training

You could, for example, take a college course on Microsoft Word. Or engage a trainer to come onsite and teach you. But I think you’ll find such training will cost $200 or more.

I challenge you to find any course or trainer that will:

  • Train you at your desk, in the context in which you’ll be using the skills you’re learning
  • Be available to answer questions via email
  • Switch to video presentation when the feature being demonstrated needs to be seen rather than described

How many courses or trainers have you seen that will do all that?

Try it risk-free!

I don’t want you to pay $67 (US) for this course if you’re not absolutely convinced it will help you.

That’s why I offer a 60-day money-back guarantee. During that time, you could review all 44 lessons from the course (one each workday) and cover all these topics:


That’s the entire course content with absolutely no risk! (I’m really putting myself out here! But it’s only because I’m convinced this can help you make the switch from WordPerfect to Word.)

You can’t lose!

If at any point during the first 60 days you decide The Efficient Lawyer’s Guide to Word isn’t for you, you can email me and ask for your money back. You’ll see a contact form in the sidebar of every lesson. All you have to do is contact me, and your refund will be processed. No questions asked. (You will get an email from the system confirming your refund and un-enrollment.)

And you get every penny of your money back promptly.

But if you find, as others have, that The Efficient Lawyer’s Guide to Word helps you learn Microsoft Word easily, naturally and painlessly, you can continue with the rest of the course.

Listen to what other students have to say about the course:

“Very good! Nicely organized and presented. I like your teaching style in your videos as well, and hearing the “clicks” kept me focusing on the screen and seeing where you were headed next. Good job!!!” – Jo

“Your first lesson about the ribbon came in very handy when I had a formatting problem and spacing problem. By hitting the little arrow in the lower right corner on Indent and Spacing Section of the Page Layout tab, I discovered that the problem text was centered or justified (I don’t remember which) which caused a line with a few words to be spread out with wide gaps between each word. THANKS!” – Tom

End your Word frustration now for only $67 (US)

Don’t spend another moment staring at the computer screen in frustration. Click the Add to Cart button below today!

Miscellaneous Payments

This page is for miscellaneous payments not connected to a course currently offered. Please enter the correct amount in the field below and click the button below, then click the button again when it says “Checkout” to go to the Checkout page. Payments via credit/debit card and PayPal are accepted.

Brief Builder’s Workshop

Sssshhhhh ...

I'm not telling this to everybody, but I'm offering it to you.​

That TOA Pre-Publish Checklist I sent you is a compilation of tips and tricks from a section of my Efficient Lawyer's Guide to Word course where I deal with brief formatting issues. Because users who are already dealing with intermediate features like Table of Authorities don't need the sort of comprehensive help that the full Word course gives, I'm offering a "carve-out" of the larger course called Brief Builder's Workshop. It covers the specific Microsoft Word features attorneys and law office staff use to format legal briefs and other complex pleadings.

In Brief Builder's Workshop, I cover topics like:

  • Common TOA mistakes and how to fix them
  • What all that gobblydegook in the TOA hidden text really means, and how understanding it can save you re-edit your TOA again and again
  • Fixing wrong TOA entries without re-marking all your citations
  • How to fix Table of Authorities and Table of Contents formatting so it actually sticks
  • Two methods for marking text for your Table of Contents (and why one is better than the other)
  • How to format your brief with distinct page numbering (i vs. 1 vs. C-1) in each section

This course provides you some targeted help with legal-specific features like Table of Authorities plus how to use other features like Table of Contents, page numbering and document sections within the specific context of producing a legal brief.

Here's a list of the lessons:

Lessons in the Course

TOA: Marking your first citation

TOA: Marking second and subsequent citations

TOA: Defining and inserting your TOA

TOA: Deciphering TOA markup

TOA: Modifying TOA Styles

TOA: Before you print/publish

TOA: Common problems & solutions

TOC: Defining a Table of Contents based on Styles

TOC: Manually marking TOC entries

TOC: Inserting the TOC into your document

TOC: Modifying your Table of Contents

Sections & Page Numbering: Using Sections to control page numbering, headers & footers

Because the lessons deal with a very specific context, chances are you've come here because you're right in the middle of an actual brief and need some targeted help with the formatting that comes with producing legal briefs.

This course covers the features that get little to no attention in the Microsoft Word manuals you buy in a bookstore or on other websites about Word. It's also focused specifically on how these features are used in a legal context.

All course content is based on the Windows-based version of Microsoft Word (sorry Mac users!) and covers versions 2010 through 2016 (a.k.a. the desktop version of Office 365). So whether you're up on the latest and greatest Word version or you've been putting off upgrading ... you're covered.

And every course I offer comes with a 30-day money back guarantee. If it doesn't meet your needs, all you have to do is email me for a refund within 30 days of purchase. It's risk-free!

Don't put this off for another day, because you'll want to have this resource handy for future briefs, too. The clock below is ticking, and when this offer expires, these lessons will only be available in the full Efficient Lawyer's Guide to Word course.

Will your next brief be as frustrating as the one before? Click the Add to Cart button below to get on the road to faster, easier brief formatting!

Pleading Paper Course

Pleading Paper Course

If there's one plea I've gotten more than any other from readers, it's for help with Pleading Paper:

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 … while I’d love to be able to start [templates] from scratch I don’t know how. Any help you could give would be terrific, thank you!!

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.

There's good news ... and better news

The good news is, I've heard your pleas and have put together a two-part tutorial, complete with video and text/screenshot instruction, on how to find, use, and modify pleading paper templates.

In the course, I not only show you the different types of pleading paper templates (there are two basic types that are very different from one another), but also how to work with them and even modify them to make them your own. I even show you the trick for keeping your text and the numbering in perfect sync!

Lesson #1 of the course even provides you with links to download the following templates (some of which are no longer available on Microsoft's site):

  • 24-line template
  • 25-line template
  • 26-line template
  • The old 28-line template
  • The 2013 28-line template
  • The 32-line template

This course is for those who want to learn how to use and, if necessary, modify the existing standard templates and for those who want to create their own for future use.

Want in on the action? Just click the Checkout button below to purchase!

Assemble Documents Faster

Assemble Documents Faster

Don’t spend your time in Microsoft Word re-inventing the wheel! While everybody else is scrounging around looking for old documents to copy that perfect bit of boilerplate text out of, you can whiz right past them with these Word features designed to make you a document-creating ninja.

During this course, I’ll teach you how you can leverage Word features such as Quick Parts, AutoText, Bookmarks, Cross-References, Fields and Templates to help you create documents faster and with fewer errors. Master these and you may be able to go home on time a lot more often!

I took a beta testing group of students through this course earlier this year, and the response has been exciting:​

"I can’t begin to tell you all of the things I have learned that make my job easier"

When Deborah started advertising a new series of webinars for ways to assemble documents faster, I jumped at the chance! I am always looking for better, smarter, faster ways to produce documents. The Assemble Documents Faster series did not disappoint!

I LOVE Quick Parts!! It has made so many tasks quick and easy. I had no idea Quick Parts was a feature or that it would radically change the speed at which I can produce a document. All of the chunks of text that I use over and over are now saved in my Quick Parts gallery and with a couple of clicks I can drop them into the document I am working on. I use it for things like: captions, notary jurats, certificates of service, summonses, waivers and acceptance of service, certificates of conferral, deposition notices, stock objections for written discovery responses, just to name a few!! If I use it regularly, it’s in there.

I am still going back and reviewing the class material. There is so much information in there, I keep going back to pick up one more tip. I am excited about all of the options for creating and controlling list styles and numbering schemes. I find myself constantly tweaking and adjusting the way Word formats them.

I cannot tell you how much I appreciate Deborah, The Legal Office Guru. She is the go-to-girl for all things Word. I have learned a ton from working with her and subscribing to her blog. I can’t begin to tell you all of the things I have learned that make my job easier.

Tammy L. Hanks ... Senior Paralegal, Denver, CO

"Deborah's lessons are thorough and easy to follow"

I enrolled in the course after using Deborah's tips on how to format an appellate brief. Her information was so helpful that I immediately wanted to learn everything I could from her, I was thrilled to find someone providing Word how-tos for the legal world.

How to use auto-text and auto-correct, how to set up pagination in specific ways, quick parts and formatting an appellate brief. I have not worked my way through the entire course yet, as some weeks I am limited on time. But I do go back and revisit lessons, like paragraph numbering for example. Having the information there and not eating up time searching the internet for an answer to a question or a problem has been a tremendous help in getting my work done faster. Deborah's lessons are thorough and easy to follow and she is extremely giving of her time. I could not have formatted and filed an appellate brief with the district court of appeals without what I learned from Deborah.

Katy R. ... Legal Assistant, Tampa, FL (Criminal defense and personal injury)

Let me say that your work on providing this course is among the most helpful instructions I have found on Word. Take the simple Style Separator. I have been trying to figure this out for a long time, but it was not until you described the use of the Style Separator that it made sense to me. I did not even know of the Style Separator.

Thanks for your teaching. Most helpful.

Bill Elliott ... Attorney

I've just enrolled a group of people into the course and am preparing to make the course public again within days. If you'd like to be notified when the course is available again, please sign up below.