Tag Archives for " brief formatting "

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.

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1 Table of Contents: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know

One of the things I'm on a rant about these days is loooooong documents.  Complicated documents, like 20+ page contracts and appellate briefs and stuff like that.

Why?  Because they always seem to need special stuf inserted in them.  Like custom headers and footers.  And level-1 and level-2 and level-out-the-wazoo headings.  It's enough to make your head spin.

But if you've got mad skills and you plan your document right, a lot of this stuff becomes easier.  Like putting in a simple table of contents, for example.

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2 Does your Table of Contents need a do-over?

My friend Karen called me in a panic. "Bryan's got this contract he's editing [read: recycling] for a client. He's added a new numbered paragraph, but it's not showing up in the Table of Contents."

So, since I can't always diagnose Word problems blind (I'm good, but I'm not THAT good), and I go to her desk and see something that looks a bit like this:

I suspect the document he was working with had been recycled over and over. He was just taking a contract that had worked pretty well for another client and customizing it for a new client.

How did I figure that out? One clue was the way his Table of Contents was constructed (look at those codes above). Another was that the paragraph numbering was completely manual - no automatic paragraph numbering at all.

So what had happened here is that, because he didn't know how the Table of Contents was originally constructed, he couldn't automatically add a new paragraph to the TOC.

So rather than reconstruct his entire TOC based on Styles (a newer, more flexible model) and automating his paragraph numbering, I sat down to help Karen get that paragraph added and renumber the following paragraphs (thank goodness, not that many).

And I was immediately flummoxed.

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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:

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7 The 6 Best Reasons to Use Styles

(Note: this post was originally published July 16, 2015.)

I had a good conversation with Sam Glover on the Lawyerist podcast recently about stuff I wish lawyers knew about Microsoft Office. It was a chance to say some things about how well (read: badly) many law offices use Microsoft Office.

One of those items on my ideal law firm training agenda was Styles. Sam and I are pretty much in agreement on why Styles is an essential Word skill. It’s so baked in, you can’t possible NOT use Styles, but very few Word users in my experience really use that feature well.

That part of the conversation was going pretty well. Then, at around the 13:08 mark, Sam asked me, “What’s the number one reason that lawyers ought to use Styles?”

And I froze. Then I mumbled something about getting all your level-three headings to update all at once.

Disaster.

So, because I can do a do-over on my own blog, here are six reasons I think you really ought to up your Styles game sooner than later.

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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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5 7 Ways To Screw Up A Table of Authorities

When I first got my Roku box a few years back, I spent an embarrassing amount of time binge-watching the dizzying array of streaming video I suddenly had access to. One of my early obsessions was a video series on Chow.com’s Roku channel called “You’re Doing It All Wrong“. (I do love me some food porn.) Thanks to that series, I now know what’s wrong with most people’s mashed potatoes (not boiled long enough), how to pan fry bacon properly (look for the bubbles), and why sushi chefs laugh at me (only noobs dunk the entire roll in soy sauce and then cram it in their faces with chopsticks).

I’m pretty sure the owners of Chow.com have the phrase “You’re Doing It All Wrong” trademarked or something; otherwise, I’d steal that phrase for an article series. And I know just where I’d start: Tables of Authorities.

Microsoft Word’s Table of Authorities feature isn’t exactly known for its user-friendliness. Nobody’s ever said the word “automagically” about it. And more than one enterprising software vendor has found a lucrative niche making an easier-to-use interface for TOAs.

I’ve had to use this feature myself on several occasions recently, and I’ve rediscovered seven ways you can easily (and thoroughly) screw up a Table of Authorities. (Need a TOA refresher course? Click here to learn how to mark citations, then click here for instructions on building the TOA itself.)

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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.

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How to recycle your [legal] briefs safely

In my observation, if there’s one thing you lawyers love, it’s repeating yourselves. No, not when you speak (except when you walk around the office repeating the same war story about your latest court appearance to anyone who’ll listen); it’s when you write. Y’all recycle so much old material from briefs and other documents, it puts Ed Begley, Jr. to shame.

Some of the problems with all that cutting and pasting are pretty obvious—another client’s name being left in (oops) or funky formatting that doesn’t match the new document. But others aren’t. What sort of evil stuff lurks in that text you just pasted over from your last magnum opus? And how’s it going to undermine your next court filing?

litigationworld-600

This post won LitigationWorld’s Pick of the Week Award 7/15/2014!
Click the image above for more details.

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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:

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20 How to modify a Table of Contents in Microsoft Word

You've built a Table of Contents in Microsoft Word using the Styles feature to mark the TOC entries or by marking them manually. And just when you're about to pat yourself on the back for having an automatic Table of Contents in your document, you notice something's a little ... off. Maybe the font's not quite right. Perhaps the font's okay but the spacing's not. Or the indentation. It could be you want/don't want the dot leaders running up to the page numbers.

Suffice it to say you just want to alter the format of it. But how?

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5 Inserting a table of contents using styles

One of the things I'm on a rant about these days is loooooong documents.  Complicated documents, like 20+ page contracts and appellate briefs and stuff like that.

Why?  Because they always seem to need special stuff inserted in them.  Like custom headers and footers.  And level-1 and level-2 and level-out-the-wazoo headings.  It's enough to make your head spin.

But if you've got mad skills and you plan your document right, a lot of this stuff becomes easier.  Like putting in a simple table of contents, for example.

Keep reading →

50 Using sections to control page numbers, headers and footers

Ever needed to be able to change the page numbers in the middle of a Microsoft Word document (an appellate brief, for example)?  Like, switching from Roman numerals to Arabic numerals or just not having page numbers at all?

Don't tear your hair out, my pretty.  Help is here!

The secret to doing this is found in the Word feature called Sections.  Sections will (among other things) allow you to have distinct headers and footers on different pages of the document.  So, using that appellate brief as an example, you can have no page numbers showing up on your cover page, those little lower-case Roman numerals (you know, i, iv, ix, etc.) on the pages with the table of authorities, etc., and start yet again with regular Arabic numbers (1, 2, 3, etc.) when the main part of the brief starts.

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5 Using Styles & Formatting

Got a long brief or other document that has lots of headings, subheadings, etc.?  You need Styles, baby.

No, not style -- Styles.

The Styles function in Word is a handy tool for, among other things, setting up headings for different sections of a document.  These styles serve a dual purpose: not only do they help keep document formatting consistent (i.e., all paragraph and subparagraph headings at a particular level, for example, will be consistent through the document), they can help later when you create a Table of Contents, since Word can use these styles to create the levels of your Table of Contents.

There are a couple of different ways to use Styles & Formatting (as the feature is formally known) in your document.

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