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WilsonMicrosoft Word is an essential tool in any lawyer’s toolbox. But, many of us don’t get the most out of this word processor. This article offers three things to change the next time you open Word to make it work better for you.

Set up your key defaults (fonts and line spacing)

If you have Word 2010, the default font is Calibri (Body), size 11. This tip shows you how to change the default font so that all documents you create from now on have your preferred starting font.

First, some background information. Word stores all its file information in a file called “Normal.dot” or “Normal.dotm” for more recent versions. This is the default file that loads when you open a blank Word document. To tell Word to load something different, you need to change the default font style.

Normally, you would click on the dropdown arrow next to the font name to change the font. Instead, press the Control and D keys at the same time (Ctrl D). This opens the font option box where you can set up your default font options.

In the font option box, select your favorite font, set the font style to regular (not bold or italics), and set the default size (typically 12). Finally, click Set as Default in the lower left-hand side of the font option box.

You will be prompted to choose if you want the changes to apply to the open document or “all documents based on the Normal template.” Choose the “all documents” option since you want your new default font to appear each time you start Word. This will not change anything on your existing documents, just new ones created after you make these changes.

Next, you will want to change the default line spacing. Press “Alt O P” to open the paragraph option box. Set the Spacing to 0 (both before and after) and the Line Spacing to single. Find the Set as Default box and click. Choose the same option as you did above to change the font to apply the changes to all newly created documents.

By the way, this tip will work with any version of Word.

Define your style

Styles are one of the most important, and most underused, options in Word. Most of us format each sentence or paragraph as we go. For example, we type in a heading to an argument section in a brief, and then choose the font size, bold, all caps, etc. Needless to say, this can be a time consuming process to remember what formatting options you applied three pages earlier. Instead, define your styles and let Word do the work for you.

Open Word and look for the “Styles” section of the toolbar. You should see a box that contains the words “Normal,” “No Spacing,” or “Heading 1.” Next, type the word “Argument” in the body of your document. Click on “Heading 1” in the Styles box and watch how the Style automatically changes the word Argument to match the pre-set style Heading 1.

Since you want to make Word work smarter, right click on Heading 1 and choose Modify. The Modify Styles options box appears. There are many options you can change, including adding automatic numbering (great for arguments and sub-arguments). Make a change or two and see what happens when you click OK. Repeat until you have the format the way you like. You can choose to have your changes apply only to the document you are working on or to “New documents based on this template” for future documents.

Teach Word to write for you with AutoText

AutoText in Word is like your smart phone autocorrecting for you. Word has many AutoText entries by default. But, you will want to create your own.

To create your first AutoText entry, type your firm or company name. Select the name with your cursor. Then, on Word’s toolbar, click Insert, Quick Parts, Save Selection to Quick Part Gallery. Write the name of the entry (i.e., what you will type when you want the full phrase to appear) and select any other options.

To use the AutoText entry, start typing the name of the entry you created and Word does the rest, auto-completing the full text of your entry. Alternatively, you can type the short name and press the F3 key to have the full entry appear.

Need more AutoText ideas? Try creating signature lines for pleadings/letters, standard opening paragraphs for pleadings and discovery, or standard response emails. Basically anything that you would normally copy and paste you can add to your AutoText library and have Word type for you with just a few keystrokes.

Word is a powerful tool. Make it work harder for you.•

Seth Wilson is a partner at Hume Smith Geddes Green & Simmons LLP in Indianapolis. In addition to practicing law, he helps manage the day-to-day technology operations of the firm, and frequently speaks and advises on legal technology issues. The opinions expressed are those of the author.

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  1. From back in the day before secularism got a stranglehold on Hoosier jurists comes this great excerpt via Indiana federal court judge Allan Sharp, dedicated to those many Indiana government attorneys (with whom I have dealt) who count the law as a mere tool, an optional tool that is not to be used when political correctness compels a more acceptable result than merely following the path that the law directs: ALLEN SHARP, District Judge. I. In a scene following a visit by Henry VIII to the home of Sir Thomas More, playwriter Robert Bolt puts the following words into the mouths of his characters: Margaret: Father, that man's bad. MORE: There is no law against that. ROPER: There is! God's law! MORE: Then God can arrest him. ROPER: Sophistication upon sophistication! MORE: No, sheer simplicity. The law, Roper, the law. I know what's legal not what's right. And I'll stick to what's legal. ROPER: Then you set man's law above God's! MORE: No, far below; but let me draw your attention to a fact I'm not God. The currents and eddies of right and wrong, which you find such plain sailing, I can't navigate. I'm no voyager. But in the thickets of law, oh, there I'm a forester. I doubt if there's a man alive who could follow me there, thank God... ALICE: (Exasperated, pointing after Rich) While you talk, he's gone! MORE: And go he should, if he was the Devil himself, until he broke the law! ROPER: So now you'd give the Devil benefit of law! MORE: Yes. What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil? ROPER: I'd cut down every law in England to do that! MORE: (Roused and excited) Oh? (Advances on Roper) And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned round on you where would you hide, Roper, the laws being flat? (He leaves *1257 him) This country's planted thick with laws from coast to coast man's laws, not God's and if you cut them down and you're just the man to do it d'you really think you would stand upright in the winds that would blow then? (Quietly) Yes, I'd give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety's sake. ROPER: I have long suspected this; this is the golden calf; the law's your god. MORE: (Wearily) Oh, Roper, you're a fool, God's my god... (Rather bitterly) But I find him rather too (Very bitterly) subtle... I don't know where he is nor what he wants. ROPER: My God wants service, to the end and unremitting; nothing else! MORE: (Dryly) Are you sure that's God! He sounds like Moloch. But indeed it may be God And whoever hunts for me, Roper, God or Devil, will find me hiding in the thickets of the law! And I'll hide my daughter with me! Not hoist her up the mainmast of your seagoing principles! They put about too nimbly! (Exit More. They all look after him). Pgs. 65-67, A MAN FOR ALL SEASONS A Play in Two Acts, Robert Bolt, Random House, New York, 1960. Linley E. Pearson, Atty. Gen. of Indiana, Indianapolis, for defendants. Childs v. Duckworth, 509 F. Supp. 1254, 1256 (N.D. Ind. 1981) aff'd, 705 F.2d 915 (7th Cir. 1983)

  2. "Meanwhile small- and mid-size firms are getting squeezed and likely will not survive unless they become a boutique firm." I've been a business attorney in small, and now mid-size firm for over 30 years, and for over 30 years legal consultants have been preaching this exact same mantra of impending doom for small and mid-sized firms -- verbatim. This claim apparently helps them gin up merger opportunities from smaller firms who become convinced that they need to become larger overnight. The claim that large corporations are interested in cost-saving and efficiency has likewise been preached for decades, and is likewise bunk. If large corporations had any real interest in saving money they wouldn't use large law firms whose rates are substantially higher than those of high-quality mid-sized firms.

  3. The family is the foundation of all human government. That is the Grand Design. Modern governments throw off this Design and make bureaucratic war against the family, as does Hollywood and cultural elitists such as third wave feminists. Since WWII we have been on a ship of fools that way, with both the elite and government and their social engineering hacks relentlessly attacking the very foundation of social order. And their success? See it in the streets of Fergusson, on the food stamp doles (mostly broken families)and in the above article. Reject the Grand Design for true social function, enter the Glorious State to manage social dysfunction. Our Brave New World will be a prison camp, and we will welcome it as the only way to manage given the anarchy without it.

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  5. Some in the Hoosier legal elite consider this prayer recommended by the AG seditious, not to mention the Saint who pledged loyalty to God over King and went to the axe for so doing: "Thomas More, counselor of law and statesman of integrity, merry martyr and most human of saints: Pray that, for the glory of God and in the pursuit of His justice, I may be trustworthy with confidences, keen in study, accurate in analysis, correct in conclusion, able in argument, loyal to clients, honest with all, courteous to adversaries, ever attentive to conscience. Sit with me at my desk and listen with me to my clients' tales. Read with me in my library and stand always beside me so that today I shall not, to win a point, lose my soul. Pray that my family may find in me what yours found in you: friendship and courage, cheerfulness and charity, diligence in duties, counsel in adversity, patience in pain—their good servant, and God's first. Amen."

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