Tag Archives for " Microsoft Word "

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 or two columns:

... then you'll love this tip.

Say, for example, you needed to just get the dollar amounts and the names 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 piece of text separately.

Au contraire. Trust me, you'll love this trick!

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11 5 Options You’ll Want to Re-Set in Word

A big part of making Word work better for you is molding the way it works to the way you work. Most users don’t know they’ve got options for how certain features perform. Some things you’ll want to get out of your way, some things you’ll want to make easier to access. Here are my suggestions for changing Word’s defaults to work better in a legal environment:

First Step: Going into Options

Most of the default behaviors in Word are set within the Options dialog box. To get there (a necessary prerequisite for all of the exercises below), go to the File tab (if you’re still using Word 2007, click the Office Button) and click Options.

Once you’re in Options, you’re ready to rock.

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16 In praise of text expansion (or, how to keep from typing the same thing 100 times)

Here in the last several weeks, I've been busy. And when I say "busy", I'm not talking your run-of-the-mill "I have a nice steady flow of work" level of busy. I'm talking "so overloaded I'm farming out scut work to other people", "oh my gosh, I just had that piece of paper in my hand a moment ago", "I wonder if I can still get that Xanax prescription filled" level of busy. It was insane.

So naturally, I was looking for every time saver I could get my hands on. If something could save me even a few seconds (especially on a repetitive task), it was worth it.

One of the things I found myself doing was typing the same long complicated phrases over and over and over again. I don't know about you, but I don't exactly love typing. (As proof of that, I'm using Dragon NaturallySpeaking to write this article. I'm all for letting the computer do the work.) And when my brain gets a little overloaded and the pace starts getting on my nerves, my already sketchy typing skills go to pot. So I have no patience whatsoever for typing the same long complicated phrase 100 times.

So if you find yourself stuck typing "Brief in Support of American Amalgamated Consolidated Widget Corporation's Second Amended Motion for Leave of Court to Conduct On-site Inspection" for the umpteenth time, I'm going to show you how to get out of all that repetitive typing. It's a concept called "text expansion", and you don't even need extra software to do it (although there is software that will do that).

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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.

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When a tab is not just a tab, part 3: Center tabs

Okay, show of hands: How many of you remember being taught how to center text in typing class? (Alright, hands down. Those of you who responded with "Typing class? What's typing class?" have officially made me feel ancient.)

For you youngsters out there, here's how it went down: All of us typing students rolled a sheet of paper through the platen (look it up, kiddies) of the typewriter and spaced over to the center of the page 4.25" from each edge (using the tab key and space bar), calculated how many letters and spaces were in whatever phrase we wanted centered, divided by two, then backspaced from the center point by that many spaces.

Years later, it exhausts me just to describe it.

Fortunately, modern word processors like Microsoft Word make exercises like this obsolete. Oh, sure, you already know how to center text, right? But using center justification centers the text between the left and right margins. But what if you want to center text across another point on the page?

Answer: center tabs.

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5 Reader Question: Underlining trailing spaces

Don’t you just hate it when you want Microsoft Word to do something really simple and obvious, like underline blank spaces, and it just refuses to do it? That’s the dilemma faced by reader who recently wrote me, really frustrated over a signature line:

From time to time, I am inserting a line for a signature block or for some other purpose and after clicking underline or using control u I get nothing but blank space. When I check the font dialog box it shows underline and the font color is black, what is the problem?

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4 Save those trees! Printing compressed copies of large documents

If your law office is like most of the ones I’ve seen, you’ve got a lot of paper. A ton of paper. Probably more paper than you know what to do with.

Even with all that document digitizing we’ve all been doing in recent years – scanning, e-filing, case management databases, etc. – law firms still do an awful lot of printing. Even so, all those calls for firms to “go paperless” are starting to gain traction.

That said, it’s still true: we do so love our paper. And even the most digital-savvy among us has to admit that hard copies have their advantages. It’s tough to choose.

But what if I said you could have your cake and eat it too? Print as many pages as you want and still use less paper? Keep reading →

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:

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

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63 Printing Envelopes and Labels, Part 1: 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?"

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63 The case of the shrunken comment balloon

And now for a dispatch from the “Well, I’ve never seen this before” Department … Just when I thought I had seen it all, my boss threw me a curve ball, courtesy of his new-found affection for Microsoft Word’s Track Changes feature.

He’s been using Track Changes a lot lately, and it’s turned out to be a pretty handy feature for him, since he’s been doing a lot of contract work. Marked-up documents have been flying back and forth via e-mail, and the Microsoft Word Track Changes feature has made life a lot easier for him.

Until last week, that is. He was getting ready to send out another reviewed document, when he opened it up from his outgoing e-mail and saw something like this:

Yikes! Who could possibly read that? That comment balloon is way too small!

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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.

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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:

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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:

Word 2010

Word 2013-2016

This content is part of a course

What you've learned here is just a small part of my Brief Builder's Workshop course, where you can learn all sorts of skills for building better briefs, such as creating a Table of Authorities and configuring a Table of Contents (two ways). Click here for more information.

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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Taming naughty footnotes, pt. 2 – separators

A reader recently asked me if I had any "solutions or helpful hints for footnotes that simply do not fit on the page due to placement or length of the footnote itself." Well, the placement question (if I understand her correctly) got answered in the post about fixing footnotes that drop down to another page. But I'd never gotten around to addressing the problem of lengthy footnotes.

A footnote of a certain length will split to appear on two different pages, each with its own separator (the line that appears between the end of the main text and the beginning of the footnote). The continued footnote on the following page has its own distinct separator to give you a visual cue that it's a continuation. You can edit both of those separators and the continuation message as follows:

Unless otherwise noted, all instructions and screenshots are from Microsoft Office for Windows.

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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.

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12 Don’t run screaming from macros

Whenever I’ve done training classes for law firms, the biggest bugaboo is always macros.

“Oh, no,” they cry. “That’s waaaaay too advanced for me!”

Um … no. It’s not. I promise.

People have this idea that, if they record a macro and make a mistake, it’s going to so totally screw things up they’ll never get their document fixed.

But if you’re looking to do things faster as your workload continues to pile up, macros can be a great time saver.  So many of the things you have to do repeatedly can be <gasp!> programmed.

And to prove that recording a macro is not such an advanced skill, Vivian Manning at Small City Law Firm Tech has a tutorial called Recording a Simple Word Macro.  She even shows you how to save your macro as a button on your Quick Access Toolbar (What? You’re not using that? You should!).

There, I wrote it – tempting most of you to run screaming from the blog.  Please come back, it’s not nearly as difficult as you imagine.  In fact, recording a simple macro is not difficult at all.  I promise!

All a simple, recorded macro in Word is, is this:

  • You tell Word, by turning on the Record Macro function, that you want it to record all of your Mouse Clicks / Keystrokes, until you turn the Record Macro function off again.
  • You tell Word whether you prefer to ‘run’ the Macro by way of a keyboard shortcut *or* a click of an icon.  All ‘running a macro’ means is forcing Word to replay the keystrokes that you recorded.

That’s all there is to it.  If you’re still reading, I’m going to show you how easy this is, and why you might want to ‘record’ and ‘run’ a macro.  Not run from it…

Click here to see the entire tutorial (with screen shots and everything). Note: Unfortunately, Vivian Manning’s blog is now offline. The Wayback Machine has an archived copy here.

Now, go.  At least try to record a simple macro.  And then come back and tell me how it went in the comments below!

11 When a tab is not just a tab, part 2: right tabs

Ever have a document that needs to have a paragraph like this?

Left and right justified text on the same line - with tables

I usually accomplish this trick (having left- and right-justified text on the same line) in Microsoft Word with Tables.  For me, tables make a lot of alignment issues a lot easier.  Here, I’ll turn on the gridlines (on the Table Tools | Layout tab that comes up whenever your cursor is in a table) and show you:

Left and right justified text on the same line - with table gridlines showing

 

Pretty straightforward if you’re use to Tables in Microsoft Word.  The left column is left-justified, and the right column is right-justified.  Easy-peasy … if you know how.

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