Tag Archives for " templates "

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 →

11 Why do lawyers resist document assembly?

This post was originally published in September, 2015.

If you have any interest at all in the intersection between technology and lawyering, you should really check out this week’s podcast over at Lawyerist, where Lawyerist’s Sam Glover interviews Dennis Kennedy of the Kennedy-Mighell Report. Some of the conversation goes where you’d expect—document review, artificial intelligence, technology versus offshoring, what really constitutes “lawyering”, etc.—but then around the 13:37 mark, the conversation turns to a subject near and dear to my heart; namely, document assembly (which Kennedy apparently has had extensive past experience with).

Although Sam’s not entirely convinced of its value (at one point protesting “I am perfectly capable of automating documents, but in my own practice, I almost never bothered, because it would have only saved me 30 seconds”), Dennis Kennedy responds with what I think are some critical insights: Keep reading →

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.

Keep reading →

2 Reader Question: Getting changes to the Normal template to “stick”

In response to my last post, I got this comment from a reader:

I am so tired of having to fix [settings] with every document. I also clicked on “new documents based on this template” and it did not stick on future documents. I was able to change my default font and that ridiculous 1.15 line spacing. I work in academia and they still always want 1″ margins all the way around and I got so frustrated with Word’s default left and right margins of 1.25. I finally fixed that but I cannot remember how I did it.

Dolores hits on an important point: clicking the radio button next to “new documents based on this template” in the Modify Styles dialog box doesn’t always make the change “stick” to the Normal template, so you’re sometimes stuck revising settings like default paragraph spacing and margins repeatedly. (I say “sometimes” because whether or not a setting sticks seems to be pretty random.)

So why does this happen, and what can you do about it? Keep reading →

8 Why using Microsoft Word’s Normal template is like matching socks

My brother’s a pretty frugal guy. While I’m the sort of person who just walks in the store and buys something, he comparison shops, uses coupons, haggles with sellers, and just basically gets a better deal than I do. (He’s the family accountant. I’m the writer. It makes sense.)

So when he told me he’d thrown out all his socks and bought all new ones, I thought he’d lost his mind. Until he told me why.

Basically, he spent money to save time.

You see, he’d gotten frustrated with one part of his morning routine: matching socks. He’d sift through his sock drawer, one sock in hand, looking for another one just like it. Morning after morning, looking for a sock with the same color, same markings, same brand.

Until he just got fed up, threw the whole lot of them out, and bought a bunch of new ones, all the same brand. (He still got a good deal.) Now he just goes to the drawer, grabs two blue (or two black) socks out, and he’s done.

What the blazes do socks have to do with Microsoft Word? Keep reading →

1 The 4 Biggest Time-Saving Microsoft Word Features You’re Probably Not Using

Learning Microsoft Word can seem a daunting task. So many features! Where’s the best place to start?

If you want to boost your productivity in Microsoft Word fast, you really need to master these four features first. Learning how to leverage these can shave seconds or even minutes off repetitive daily tasks, which adds up to getting more work done daily (or even leaving the office at a decent hour!).

Here are the four best areas for you to spend a little self-education time, before you’re subjected to one of those legal technology audits you keep hearing about.

Keep reading →

Want to learn about Word Styles?

If you’ve read this blog (and especially my posts on Lawyerist) for very long, you know I’m very passionate about Styles. I’m convinced that Microsoft Word’s Styles is one of its most underutilized and unappreciated features. Learning how to use Styles is one of those skills that can exponentially increase your productivity and take your word processing work to a whole new level.

If you’re up for the challenge of learning Styles (and a closely related feature, Templates), I want to alert you to a resource you might consider. I’ve been a subscriber to the WordTips newsletter for a while now, and I’ve really been impressed by the breadth and depth of the tips this guy offers on his site and in his newsletter. I received an e-mail from him this morning, alerting me to his release of Word 2007 Styles and Templates and Word 2010 Styles and Templates. Although I haven’t had a chance to purchase these and review them myself, I wanted to go ahead and post links to these resources sooner rather than later because he’s offering these at half off through June 20. I’m definitely going to buy a copy for myself!

Click here for the 2007 version of this Styles and Templates resource, and click here for the 2010 version. Both of these are downloadable files (can you say “instant gratification”?).

(FTC Disclosure: These are not what are known as affiliate links. I have no association with WordTips and will receive no sales commission or any other compensation if you click those links. I’m just posting these because I happen to think this is probably a really good resource for anyone wanting to learn to use Styles.)

By the way, any of you who are still using the non-Ribbon versions of Word (2003 and earlier) should check out his Tips.net site. It’s a treasure trove of information on those older versions of Word. Click here to see what I mean!

2 Guest Post @ Lawyerist: 5 Microsoft Office Hacks to Finish Tasks Faster

Want to move things from your inbox to your outbox a lot faster? It’s time you upgrade your skills in Microsoft Office to find faster ways of doing common tasks, like:

  • Speed-formatting your text with Styles (it’s a one-click operation!)
  • Using shortcut keys for speed typing
  • Employing templates to speed document creation for common forms
  • Accessing boilerplate text instantly with Quick Parts and AutoText
  • Getting one-click access to commonly used commands with the Quick Access Toolbar

Click here to get your learning on over at Lawyerist.

Guest Post @ Lawyerist: Sharing AutoText and Quick Parts with Others

If you’ve started building a library of boilerplate text in Microsoft Word using either AutoText or Quick Parts, you may have wondered to yourself whether you can distribute those to your assistant/paralegal or other attorneys in your practice area at your firm.

In response to a request from a Lawyerist reader, I’ve not only unlocked the secrets behind where these entries are stored, I’ve also detailed a method for storing and distributing these entries for others to use.

Click here to read this illustrated article over at Lawyerist.

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 →

3 Guest post @ Lawyerist: Creating and Sharing Custom Microsoft Word Styles

As a follow-up to my Using Microsoft Word Styles post on Lawyerist, I go one step further and teach you how to create new Styles and share them with others in your office. If you’ve ever thought about creating a set of standard forms (pleadings, letters, etc.) for use by everyone in your workgroup or office, this post contains some critical information about how the interaction between Styles and Templates in Microsoft Word.

Click here for the full illustrated post.

1 Guest post @ Lawyerist: Using Microsoft Word Styles

Lawyerist editor-in-chief Sam Glover shot me an email from his crackberry a few weeks ago making a special request for my next guest post:

A primer on using styles, including how to create style sets and make them default.

How to move Normal.dot to a network drive or put it in your Dropbox so Word will use the same template across computers.

Typed on a small screen with my thumbs. Please excuse my brevity and typos.

So even though I already champion Styles usage for consistent formatting, particularly in long documents like briefs and contracts, I starting boning up, researching some more advanced techniques in my trusty Word 2010 reference.

Whoo, boy — what started out as “a primer on using styles” has morphed into a series. There’s a lot of untapped potential here, people, and I’m doing my darnedest to walk that fine line between delivering as much goodness as I can and keeping it simple enough to actually use.

Click here for the first post in the series. I’ve written post #2, so be on the lookout for even more advanced Styles techniques.