ILNews

Start Page: 3 changes to make next time you open Microsoft Word

Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

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.

ADVERTISEMENT

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in Indiana Lawyer editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT
Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
  1. IF the Right to Vote is indeed a Right, then it is a RIGHT. That is the same for ALL eligible and properly registered voters. And this is, being able to cast one's vote - until the minute before the polls close in one's assigned precinct. NOT days before by absentee ballot, and NOT 9 miles from one's house (where it might be a burden to get to in time). I personally wait until the last minute to get in line. Because you never know what happens. THAT is my right, and that is Mr. Valenti's. If it is truly so horrible to let him on school grounds (exactly how many children are harmed by those required to register, on school grounds, on election day - seriously!), then move the polling place to a different location. For ALL voters in that precinct. Problem solved.

  2. "associates are becoming more mercenary. The path to partnership has become longer and more difficult so they are chasing short-term gains like high compensation." GOOD FOR THEM! HELL THERE OUGHT TO BE A UNION!

  3. Let's be honest. A glut of lawyers out there, because law schools have overproduced them. Law schools dont care, and big law loves it. So the firms can afford to underpay them. Typical capitalist situation. Wages have grown slowly for entry level lawyers the past 25 years it seems. Just like the rest of our economy. Might as well become a welder. Oh and the big money is mostly reserved for those who can log huge hours and will cut corners to get things handled. More capitalist joy. So the answer coming from the experts is to "capitalize" more competition from nonlawyers, and robots. ie "expert systems." One even hears talk of "offshoring" some legal work. thus undercutting the workers even more. And they wonder why people have been pulling for Bernie and Trump. Hello fools, it's not just the "working class" it's the overly educated suffering too.

  4. And with a whimpering hissy fit the charade came to an end ... http://baltimore.cbslocal.com/2016/07/27/all-charges-dropped-against-all-remaining-officers-in-freddie-gray-case/ WHISTLEBLOWERS are needed more than ever in a time such as this ... when politics trump justice and emotions trump reason. Blue Lives Matter.

  5. "pedigree"? I never knew that in order to become a successful or, for that matter, a talented attorney, one needs to have come from good stock. What should raise eyebrows even more than the starting associates' pay at this firm (and ones like it) is the belief systems they subscribe to re who is and isn't "fit" to practice law with them. Incredible the arrogance that exists throughout the practice of law in this country, especially at firms like this one.

ADVERTISEMENT