Tag Archives for " templates "

10 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:

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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.

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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?

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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.

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How to create your own Pleading Paper template, Part 2

If you completed the first unit in this course, you know that there are two basic formats of Pleading Paper:

  • In the 25-line template, the line numbers are embedded in a Text Box which is placed in the Header, and the vertical lines separating the numbers from the text are graphic objects drawn using the Shapes feature on the Insert tab. While this format is more vulnerable to misalignments between the numbers and the text, it will allow for certain parts of the pleading (such as the style in the signature block) to be single spaced.​
  • In the old 28-line template, the line numbers are placed on the page using the Line Numbering feature in Word, and the vertical lines are drawn using Bar Tabs. The line numbers and the text do not get misaligned in this template, but it will not accommodate single spacing in the style or signature block, nor can you use a Table to insert the case style.

Armed with this knowledge (and your familiarity with your court's particular requirements), you've chosen which template to start with. But it needs adjusting, doesn't it? So here in Part 2, I'm going to show you how to modify the standard template to make your own.

How to modify the standard templates

Using the 25- and 28-line templates as a guide, here's how to make some formatting adjustments to a standard template for your own use.

Adding/removing/moving vertical lines

25-line/26-line/new 28-line/32-line templates

In these templates, the vertical lines are embedded in the Header as a graphic object. To move or delete any of these lines, double-click in the Header area (or go to the Insert tab and click Header | Edit Header), then select the vertical line by clicking on it (you'll know you've selected it correctly if you see an anchor character floating nearby). To remove it, simply click the Delete key. To move it around, simply hold down your left mouse button and drag the line around to wherever you want it.

To add a new vertical line, go to the Insert tab and, under Shapes, find the straight line tool as illustrated below:

Your cursor will change to a cross-hair. Place your cursor where you want to start the line then, holding down your left mouse button, drag the mouse to where you want to line to end. Release the left mouse button to finish the line.

If your line needs adjusting (thickness or horizontal position), see "Extending vertical lines into the header and footer (28-line template only)" below for instructions.

Old (2003) 28-line template

If you have an older (version 2003) 28-line template, the vertical lines are actually bar tabs (which explains why they do not extend into the Header or Footer). The only adjustments you can make here are to either delete the line or move it. To do either, first select all the text in the document with CTRL-A so your new tab settings will be effective for the whole document. Then, click the launcher in the lower right-hand corner of the Paragraph section of the Home tab to get the Paragraph dialog box. Click the Tabs button on the bottom of that dialog box to get the Tabs dialog box:

To remove either of these lines, click on the appropriate one (either the -0.25" or -0.23" setting), then click the Clear button. You can't directly move one of these lines, so you'll have to delete a line first and then reinsert it at whatever vertical point you wish. Just type the new setting under Tab stop position, Select Bar under Alignment, then click Set.

Changing the number of text lines to be numbered

I will tell you this up front: I was an English major in college for a reason. Math is not my strong suit. So it's with great trepidation that I approach the subject of reformatting a 25- or 28-line template to accommodate 24 or 31 or however many lines according to your court's requirements. Because there will be math. (That always sounds vaguely like a threat to me.)

I would recommend that you tackle page margins first. To do that, go to the Page Layout tab and click on Margins:

Put the correct values in the boxes next to Top, Bottom, Left, and Right, then click OK.

Once you have your margins set correctly, then you can reset the number of lines on the template.

25-line/26-line/28-line/32-line templates

In the 25/26/28/23-line templates, you'll have to adjust the Line Spacing for both the line numbers along the left and the actual text of the document:

To change the Line Spacing in the Text Box that contains the line numbers, double-click into the Header, single click into the Text Box, then press CTRL-A to select the entire contents of the Text Box.

Now, click the launcher arrow in the lower right-hand corner of the Paragraph section of the Home tab to get the Paragraph dialog box:

Okay, here's where the math comes in. If, for example, you have an 11 inch long piece of paper and your top margin is 1.5 inches and your bottom margin is 0.7 inches, that leaves you with 8.8 inches of text. Because most of us don't deal with text the way a typesetter or desktop publisher does (in points rather than inches), we don't commonly know that 72 points = 1 inch. (Since there are 2.54 centimeters in an inch, it looks like there are about 28.35 or so points per vertical centimeter ... I think.)

So you'll have to take that 8.8 inches and multiply it by 72, then divide it by the number of lines your form requires to come up with the correct point setting to type in next to "Exactly" above (which may require some decimal places, like the aforementioned 22.75 pt setting). You may have to tweak and test little bit (I told you math wasn't my strong suit) to get this exactly right, but the above formula should at least get you in the ballpark. (If you'd rather work strictly in inches or centimeters, you can actually type that value in with "in" or "cm" next to it, and when you click OK, Word will do the conversion for you. Points, however, are going to be a bit more precise.) Use the exact same setting for your document text (and be sure the font sizes match, too), and your numbers and text should align just fine.

If your line spacing settings are the same in both places, but your line numbers and lines are a little askew, you can nudge the Text Box in the Header up or down slightly by dragging it up or down slightly so that the number 1 is aligned with the first line of your text. You can also use the key combination CTRL-UP or CTRL-DOWN to nudge it up or down by small increments (you have to select the Text Box with your mouse so that you see the anchor character appear above it first).

Old (2003) 28-line template

This whole operation is a lot simpler in the old 28-line template. Since the Line Numbering always tracks with the actual text, it simply a matter of adjusting the Line Spacing (see formula above) until you get the correct number of lines between your top and bottom margins.

Inserting a case style

25-line/26-line/28-line/32-line templates

The 25/26/28/32-line templates already have a case style format embedded in them. Those shaded items in brackets are actually fields that are left over from the way Word 2003 and earlier used macro-driven bookmarks. You can simply type over this information with your own, or if you really want to get fancy, click here to find out how you can embed Bookmarks that will enable you to repeat information like a party's name throughout a document.

Notice that the part containing the plaintiff's and defendant's names, etc., is within a Table. I've found that this is a good way to format this kind of information because things tend to stay put. (By the way, if you need to insert a Tab inside of a Table, hit CTRL-Tab rather than just Tab.)

If the format above doesn't meet your particular court's requirements, contact your local court clerk or law librarian to see if a better template is available.

Old (2003) 28-line template

Since the older 28-line template is completely blank, you've got pretty much free reign. Except for one problem: inserting a table (like you can in the 25/26/28/32-line templates) makes the line numbers and vertical line <em>disappear</em>. (Bummer.) But you can still use tab stops to format everything, and if you're not totally wedded to a particular separator character (like * or ) ), then you can use a Bar Tab (just another type of tab stop, like Center Tabs or Right Tabs) to insert a straight line in the middle that never moves, no matter how many parties you enter.

Fixing numbering/text alignment problems

With the old 28-line template, you should never seldom have any alignment problems between the numbering and the text, since this template employs the Line Numbering feature in Word.

Update: H. Scott Leviant over at The Complex Litigator points out that line number/text alignment problems that occur on the first page of pleading paper can be fixed easily with a setting in Word Options. To take advantage of this setting, click on the File Tab (versions 2010 and 2013) or the Office Button (version 2007) and choose Options. In the Advanced section, scroll all the way to the bottom and expand the Layout Options by clicking on the arrow to the left of the phrase "Layout Options". Check the box called "don't center 'exact line height' lines", like so:

But since the 25/26/28/32-line templates have line numbering embedded in a Text Box, misalignments are a frequent hazard, particularly for those who copy text out of other documents.

And to explain this, I have to go to video:

Extending line numbering into the footer (25/26/28/32-line template only)

I seem to remember having had someone ask me this, although I frankly don't know what jurisdiction actually requires this (or why). But never mind that, because this is actually easy to do. Just double-click into the Header, scroll down to the end of the Text Box, then place your cursor after the last number, hit Enter, and just add as many numbers as you need.

Extending vertical lines into the header and footer (old 28-line template only)

See that example above of the case style in a 28-line template? Since that template uses Bar Tabs to put the vertical lines between the line numbers in the text, the vertical lines don't actually extend into the header and footer. I cheated.

To add extra length to those vertical lines, double-click into the header or footer, then go to the Insert tab and click Shapes to find the vertical line tool:

Your cursor will change to a cross-hair. Place your cursor at the end of the existing line created by the Bar Tab, then, holding down your left mouse button, drag the mouse to the top or bottom. Release the left mouse button to finish the line. Rinse and repeat in the Header and Footer for as many lines as you need. If you find your lines are a little thicker than the ones in the template, click on the line to get the Drawing Tools contextual tab, then click Shape Outline, Weight, and choose a thinner line weight.

If your lines need to be nudged over a bit to be perfectly aligned, select the line with your mouse and use CTRL-Left-Arrow or CTRL-Right-Arrow to move the lines over in small increments. (You may have to zoom your view in really tight to get it just right.)

Removing the line numbering

25/26/28/32-line templates

Easy as pie. Just double-click into the Header, select the Text Box with your mouse, and hit the Delete key. And those numbers are outtahere!

Old (2003) 28-line template

To turn off Line Numbering, go to the Page Layout tab, click line Numbering, and choose None.

And when you're done ... SAVE IT!

I hope you're really not considering going through all this reformatting every single time you create a pleading. Because it's absolutely not necessary. Once you get this thing tweaked to your exacting specifications, take my advice and save it as a template.

To do that, instead of just hitting that little diskette icon to do a regular Save, go up to the Office Button (if you're in version 2007) or to the File tab (if you're using 2010 or later) and click Save As. (Since I don't have version 2007 on this PC, you 2007 users will have to click here for more exact instructions.) If you're a Word 2010, 2013 or 2016 user, you'll see a dialog box like this:

Word 2010

Word 2016

If you want your template to be available as a choice when you click File | New, or if you want to make your template available on your office network for others to use, click here and here to find out what folder you should save your template in.

Ensuring your line numbers appear on every page (not just the first one)

If you've created your own pleading paper template, but you only see your line numbers on the first page, It's probably because your headers/footers are set to have a different first page header/footer (commonly used in letters):

  1. Double-click into the first page’s header or footer area.
  2. Press CTRL-A to select everything in the header/footer area.
  3. Press CTRL-C to copy it.
  4. Uncheck the box next to Different First Page on the Header and Footer Tools contextual tab shown below.
  5. If you find that the numbering scheme you worked so hard on has vanished, don’t panic – you just copied it! Use CTRL-V to paste it back into the header/footer area.

Your line numbering, etc. should now appear on all pages.

Questions, anyone? Bueller? Bueller?

If 3,000+ words in this course didn't answer your particular question (hey, it could happen), give me a shout in the survey below.

How to create your own Pleading Paper template, Part 1

I've gotten a fair number of questions from readers about how to format pleadings with line numbers down the left, commonly known as Pleading Paper. Typically, they sound something like this:

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 our office just reuses old documents to keep the pleading paper formatting.  Unfortunately this brings along a host of other formatting issues, and while I'd love to be able to start from scratch I don't know how. Any help you could give would be terrific, thank you!!
I am not sure of the technical name for it, but years ago law firms had stationery with double lines on left side of a page and one line on the right. I know Word can duplicate it, but I don't how to add them or what it is called.  I will try the [pleading paper] template, but is there a way to remove the page numbering on the side?
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.  I recently added [a plug-in] to Word/Office which provides a host of automated functions, like cite checking, quote check, and table of authorities, which would make finalizing a brief a breeze.  However, if I can't get out of the WordPerfect format for my brief writing, I don’t see where all these extra functions will benefit me.

Okay, okay, I get it, I get it! Clearly, my standard reply (which I used so often that I actually created an entry in Quick Parts in Outlook for it) isn't getting the job done. So, while I would love to create a custom template (like I did for that last person above) for each and every one of you, there just aren't enough hours in the day!

So, in lieu of becoming a template factory, I'm going to show you how to make some common adjustments to those musty old the latest Microsoft templates (the 24-line template, the 25-line template, the 26-line template, the old 28-line template, the 2013 28-line template, or the 32-line template) all by yourself. And if you don't see your particular question addressed in this series, by all means leave it in the comments at the end, and I'll add the answer.

Update: Apparently, not so "musty and old" anymore! It looks like Microsoft has updated the pleading templates for versions 2007 and 2013. They also have 26-line and 32-line versions. I've updated the links above so they point to the new versions (the old ones no longer exist).

And Another Update: What Microsoft giveth, Microsoft also taketh away. It seems they don't supply these templates anymore. Fortunately, I had downloaded some of them the last time I encountered them, so the links should work now. Thanks to an eagle-eyed reader for alerting me to the change.

Pleading Paper Templates - An Introduction

Since I don't work in California or any other jurisdiction that requires Pleading Paper formats, I'm not exactly an expert on all the ins and outs of the formatting requirements. However, some common themes are evident:

  • Most have line numbering down the left margin​
  • Some have one (and occasionally two) vertical lines down the left margin just to the right of any line numbers​
  • Some also have a vertical line down the right margin as well​
  • Some of these vertical lines extend the full height of the page; some only to the height of the main text (excluding headers and footers)​
  • The number of lines that are numbered varies​
  • Some formats have line numbers that extend into the footer; most do not​
  • The line spacing is almost invariably funky (like, it can't just be double-spaced, it has to be 22.75 points or something)

In short, every time I look at Pleading Paper, I have a bad flashback of my one experience back in the late 1980s of formatting a U.S. Supreme Court brief. (And, for those of you who may be asking: yes, I did it in WordPerfect.)

How pleading paper templates work

The Microsoft Word pleading paper templates</a> that seem to be available mostly date back to the 2003 version of Word. (There's one 2007 version with 24 lines.) Clearly, nobody at Microsoft thinks these are worth updating, and Even though Microsoft has updated the pleading paper templates to 2007 and 2013 versions, they've apparently ditched the previous pleading creation wizard. So we are going to learn how to update these ourselves. (And by "we," I mean you. Because I already have.)

Of course, the 28- and 25-line/26-line/32-line templates work in different ways. (We wouldn't want to be consistent, now, would we?) The line numbers in the 25-line version (as well as the 26- and 32-line templates) are actually embedded in a Text Box placed in the Header. The vertical lines are also placed in the Header. The line spacing in the template is designed to match the line spacing in the Text Box so that the lines of text will align with the line numbers. (Try saying that last part three times fast.)

The old 2003 28-line version (assuming you saved it when it was available) uses Word's Line Numbering feature to place the numbers. And those vertical lines? They're Bar Tabs. (Insert your favorite alcohol-related joke here.)

If you use the template in the way that Microsoft seems to think you should (by simply opening a new document based on the template and then typing into it) the text will align with the numbers just fine. But, as we all know, lawyers love to cut-and-paste from old pleadings, and this is quite often where the formatting fun begins, particularly if the old text is coming from WordPerfect.

And if the court you're practicing in requires something other than those formats, then heaven help you.

First, let's take a look at the typical formatting of the standard templates:

So, to summarize:

  • If your entire document including the case style and your signature block will be spaced identically (no switching to single space for any section of your document), then you can start with the old 28-line template and modify according to your needs.
  • However, if in your jurisdiction the case style and/or signature block (or anything else) require single spacing, start with the 25-line template, since the numbering on the left side is embedded in a Text Box and therefore independent of the line spacing of the actual document text.

(And for those of you who are interested in using the Bookmarks feature of the 25 line template, click here for a tutorial.)

It's also worthwhile to note that, in some states, law schools and law libraries make templates available online. (See https://saclaw.org/wp-content/uploads/form-pleading-paper.rtf as an example.) Those might give you a better start than the standard Microsoft templates.

Where to go from here?

Now that you've:

  • Learned the two different ways these templates are constructed, and what implications those design decisions have on line spacing; and​
  • Decided which of the two templates would give you the best starting place​

... you're ready to learn how to alter the existing templates to your court's specifications.

In the next lesson in this course, we'll cover:

  • Adding/moving/removing vertical lines​
  • Changing the number of numbered lines (in case your court requires something other than 25 or 28 lines)​
  • Inserting a case style (here's where choosing the correct template to start with becomes really important!)​
  • Preventing and/or fixing numbering/text alignment problems​
  • Extending line numbering into the footer​
  • Removing line numbering altogether

If you've been just getting by with your current template (or, as one reader noted above, "just reus[ing] old documents to keep the pleading paper formatting"), then click the Next Unit button below to go to the next lesson!

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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