Microsoft Word is powerful tool for lawyers that can make legal document creation faster, easier, and more accurate. But to get the most out of Microsoft Word, lawyers will need to learn some of the most important tips and tricks of the application. Let’s take a closer look at some Microsoft Word tips and tricks:
Microsoft Word Templates for Attorneys
One of the most powerful features in Microsoft Word is the template. Using templates will make it easier for you to accurately create legal documents. Some lawyers depend on copy and pasting document information but that can lead to errors and confidentiality breaches if you inadvertently fail to remove the previous client’s data. This is why templates are a good choice for legal document automation because important data fields can be created as set properties that remain the same from one document to another without exposing another client’s information.
If you’re working with multiple associates, using Microsoft Word templates will ensure consistency of style from one associate to another. By having one template for all attorneys in your office, you keep your branding message consistent and professional. Also, use Microsoft Word system fonts so that there is consistency in all of your documents no matter where it is opened. Remember, some people receiving your document may not have any non-Microsoft Word fonts installed on their computer so if you use a special font they may not see it as you intended.
One final note on templates is, as a busy attorney, you don’t want to be spending time manually trying to manage and update templates or court forms. Not only is it time-consuming and presents a higher chance of error (or even malpractice) when you are creating a document, but you have to spend more time reviewing and looking for mistakes. With Smokeball legal practice management software, you can truly automate Microsoft Word documents and populate all your contact and matter information saved in Smokeball into a legal document template or even into court-approved forms from our free legal form library.
Sometimes you need to copy and paste data from one document to another even when you’re using templates. Unfortunately, copy and paste may dump unwanted formatting and styles into your document. To avoid dumping unwanted formatting and styles into your document, make sure that you paste using the “text only” option.
Ever wanted to change the font or style of text and found it too cumbersome because you need to go through a large document page by page? Using styles will prevent this issue because styles store formatting information so that it can be applied to text with just one click. For example, if you use a “heading” style to format all the headings in your legal document, you can change the style of that text by simply editing the “heading” format in the styles menu.
Use Quick Parts
In legal document writing, there is text that is used multiple times. Instead of copying and pasting from one document to another, use the Quick Parts feature under “Insert” in Microsoft Word. This is where you can store commonly used text and access it from any document.
Learn Shortcut Keys
For lawyers, every minute counts. You can save a lot of time by using shortcut keys in Microsoft Word. Here is a list of the some of the most commonly using shortcuts;
- Ctrl + X = Cut
- Ctrl + C = Copy
- Ctrl + V = Paste
- Ctrl + Shift + V = Paste unformatted
- Ctrl + Z = Undo
- Ctrl + Y = Redo
- Ctrl + S = Save
Look Under The Hood
When you’re having formatting issues, show formatting marks such as spacing and paragraphing. You might be surprised to discover how easy it is to add extra spaces or paragraphs in your legal documents.
Use Quick Access Toolbar
If there are certain Microsoft Word tools that you use often, put them in your Quick Access Toolbar (QAT). This will help you avoid the trouble of flipping through different menus as you create legal documents and can save you hours over the course of the year.
Compare Two Documents
If you need to compare two documents to find the difference between them, Microsoft Word has an option for that. Use the legal blackline feature and compare documents to see the difference between two documents immediately. This can be found under the Review tab.
If you’re not using collaborative tools for document editing, you probably need to send out separate legal documents to each associate you have editing. If that’s the case, this means that you may receive two or more revised copies of the same document. Combining those changes manually would be laborious. Fortunately, Microsoft Word will allow you to combine those changes into one document. Tracked changes will appear in a different color for each set of changes. You can find this Combine Changes feature in the compare menu in the review tab.
Creating a table of authorities manually could become a time-consuming process for any lawyer. Fortunately, Microsoft Word makes it easy to create an automatic table of authorities using the Mark Citation feature.
Many people find autocorrect to be somewhat helpful but often annoying because it doesn’t always understand important legal terms. The good news is that lawyers can customize autocorrect so that legal terms are recognized by Microsoft Word. You can even add special symbols to autocorrect so that they’re easily accessible when needed.
Leverage Navigation Pane
The navigation pane is a table of contents for your document. It makes it easy to access different sections of your document if you used headings.
Explore Developer Tab
Microsoft Word makes it easy for lawyers To create forms with checkboxes and field under the Developer tab. And if you are feeling adventurous, the developer tab can also be used to create macros that will run later on a form created in Microsoft Word.
If there are certain parts of a document that you want to prevent others from editing, Microsoft word allows you to restrict editing. This feature can be found under the Protect Document menu under the File tab.
There may be hidden information about your law firm or your client in the metadata of a Microsoft Word document. To remove this information and protect your client and law firm privacy, clearing the metadata from your Microsoft Word document. Metadata could include past tracked changes, comments, author name, and hidden text. Go into the document inspector to remove this information. Find this information under the file menu and the info tab.
Leveraging the power of Microsoft Word can help you save time and protect the confidentiality of your client. And Smokeball’s seamless integration takes it to the next level with automatic lawyer time tracking software (so all the time you spend in Word is automatically tracked — that means no starting and stopping timers), and the most powerful legal document automation software available to small law firms.
Schedule a free demo to see how Smokeball and Mircosoft Word can take your law firm to new levels of productivity (and profitability).