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Most students come to law school with a good foundational understanding of how to use Microsoft Office or similar software suites, such as Apple iWork, OpenOffice or LibreOffice, or WordPerfect.  Most have written papers, given slideshow presentations, and perhaps used spreadsheet software during their undergraduate education.  Most have also opened or created PDFs, and some have used Adobe Acrobat.

The purpose of this guide is to highlight tools and techniques available in common productivity software, specifically Microsoft Office and Adobe Acrobat, that you may not have had reason to use before, but that can be especially useful to lawyers and legal professionals.  They will increase your productivity, make you more confident when doing your legal writing on the job, and in some cases, keep you from making embarrassing mistakes or ethics violations.

You can either learn all these skills before you start work, or look over what kinds of skills this guide covers and reference the tutorials as needed, but it’s important to remember that Office and Acrobat contain a powerful set of tools, and there’s usually an easy way to do whatever you’re trying to do.  You just have to know how to look for it.

If you aren’t familiar with Microsoft Office, start by watching Microsoft’s tutorials for getting started:

•  Word
•  Powerpoint
•  Excel

Adobe's website has an introduction to Acrobat.

You can also ask the reference librarians or the IT Department for help getting started.
A Note About Versions
This guide is focused on Microsoft Office and Adobe Acrobat because these are the products that law firms predominantly use.  Many of the tools discussed in this guide are also available in other productivity suites, although the tools might have different names and work somewhat differently.

This guide is also focused on the more recent versions of Office and Acrobat, and you might find yourself using an older edition with different layouts.  These tutorials might not track perfectly with the OSX version of Office.

Fortunately, you can usually figure out how to do these tasks on any piece of productivity software by checking the help function or with a simple web search.  For example, if you want to track changes to make collaboration easier, but you’re working in a small firm that uses Apple’s Pages software instead of Word, you can simply search the help function or do a web search for the feature you want and the software you’re using, like “track changes pages”, and usually there will be a tutorial in the first few results that will show you how to do it.

If you can’t find the feature you’re looking for in older versions of Office, check the help function or use a web search like “track changes word 2000”
Texts, Tutorials, and Blogs
This guide will link to some tutorials for the major tools that are useful to lawyers, but if you want a more complete guide to using productivity software to the fullest, there are books that cover all these tools and more in much more detail.  All of them are focused on how lawyers can use these products to their advantage.

The lawyer's guide to Microsoft Word 2010
LAW STACKS 2nd floor  KF 322.5 .M53 S36 2011

The lawyer's guide to Microsoft Outlook 2013
LAW STACKS 2nd floor  KF 320 .A9 S366 2013

The lawyer's guide to Microsoft Excel 2007
LAW STACKS 2nd floor  KF 320 .A2 T74 2009

Legal Drafting with Microsoft Word 2007/2010: The Basics
LAW STACKS 2nd floor  KF 322.5 .M53 H465 2013

Microsoft Word 2007/2010: Advanced Techniques 
LAW STACKS 2nd floor  KF 322.5 .M53 H466 2013

Adobe Acrobat in One Hour for Lawyers (Acrobat 10-11)
LAW STACKS 2nd floor  KF 320 .A9 S8994 2013

The Lawyer's Guide to Adobe Acrobat (Acrobat 8)
LAW STACKS 2nd floor  KF 320 .A9 M367 2008
Microsoft Word
Most lawyers spend a lot of time in Word.  Word processing is a big part of legal practice, and many of the documents lawyers produce, like briefs, motions, pleadings, interrogatories, and contracts, can be long and complicated, with strict formatting requirements.

Formatting a Document                                 

Below are a collection of tutorials and blog posts that demonstrate how to format a document properly.  There are many ways to make your document look the way it needs to, but by using these tools, you can usually save yourself a lot of time and aggravation, and sometimes make it easier to avoid mistakes.

How to create a table of authorities or table of contents.

This is a common task when writing briefs
•  Tabs for TOC & Authorities (1:46 min)
•  Building a Table of Contents (6:33 min)
•  Building a Table of Authorities (9:53 min)
•  Using Microsoft Word’s table of authorities (

How to format a brief

This is a useful guide to all the steps involved in formatting a legal brief in Word
•  How to format an appellate brief (

How to create a template for documents you produce often

If you create a kind of document frequently, you can save time formatting it by creating a template.
•  Video: Create an easily customizable template in Word 2010
•  Using Legal Templates in Word 2013

How to use styles in your documents

Styles make it easier to create and modify documents, and cut down on formatting mistakes.

•  Using Microsoft Word Styles (
•  Change Default Font and Spacing

How to view and fix formatting

Sometimes it can be hard to make a document do what you want, especially if you received it from someone else.  This is how you look under the hood to find out what’s wrong.

How to use field codes

Field codes are placeholders for information like dates and client names.  You can use them to automate repetitive parts of document creation.

•  Field codes in Word
•  Insert fields
•  The missing date code in your Microsoft Word document (

Advanced page numbering

•  Auto numbering Microsoft Word documents: beyond paragraphs (
•  Insert sections with different page numbers (4:59 min)

Keyboard Shortcuts

Keyboard shortcuts save time.  It's almost always worth it to memorize them for the tasks you use frequently.

•  List of keyboard shortcuts for Word


How to compare documents

•  Compare with legal blackline (find out what’s different between two documents.  This process is also referred to as red-lining)
•  Compare documents (2:40)
•  Merge comments and changes

How to track changes

•  Track Changes (3:49 min)
•  Don’t let track changes trip you up (

Commenting on documents

•  Insert or delete a comment

Managing Files

How to remove metadata

•  Why should you care about metadata?
•  Remove metadata from a Word 2003 document
•  Remove metadata from a Word 2010-2013 document

How to convert to PDF


•  The Federal Courts are switching to PDF/A 
•  What is PDF/A?
•  How to make a PDF/A document in Word (pay attention to “PDF Options”)

How to recover a lost document

•  Don’t lose that file! using Microsoft Word’s AutoRecover (
Microsoft Outlook

You may think, especially if you haven't used it, that Outlook is mostly an email client. While it certainly does manage your email, Outlook is a lot more than that.  Technically, Outlook is a "personal information manager". It manages meetings, serves as a calendar, automates project management, and keeps notes. This section will go over some of the main functions you should be familiar with.


Organizing the inbox

•  Flag an item for follow up - a very useful way to make sure you don't lose track of e-mails that you need to act on.
Clean, Clutter Free Inbox
•  Manage email messages by using rules
•  Increase your efficiency with search folders (

Archiving email

•  Archiving items manually
•  Archiving items using rules

Automatic replies

•  How to set up automatic replies when you're out of the office


Schedule a meeting

•  How to schedule a meeting
•  Schedule a meeting or appointment with your customers in Business Contact Manager
•  Respond to an email message with a meeting request
•  Outlook meeting request dos and don’ts (

Adding an appointment

•  How to schedule an appointment


•  Change an appointment, event, or meeting

Shared calendars

•  Share an Outlook calendar with other people
•  Webinar: Sharing calendars in Outlook (12:42)


•  Print a calendar showing appointments and meetings
•  Print a blank calendar


Organize Matters Outlook Tasks

•  Organize matters using Outlook tasks (
•  Use project tasks in Business Contact Manager

Assigning Tasks to Others

•  Assigning Outlook tasks to others (

Managing Reminders

•  Managing Outlook reminders (
•  Add or remove a reminder for an email message or contact


Adding people to your contacts list

•  Create or add a contact

Miscellaneous Tips

•  Three Microsoft Outlook Quick Tricks (
Microsoft PowerPoint

Create a presentation

•  Create and present a custom show
•  Create a PowerPoint for Mac presentation from a Word for Mac outline

Tips and Tricks

•  PowerPoint 2010 tips and tricks (video course)

Using keyboard shortcuts

•  PowerPoint 2010 keyboard shortcuts

Displaying Keyboard Shortcuts in Tool Tips

If you’d like to see the available keyboard shortcuts for menus, commands, and toolbar buttons, go to Tools/Customize, click on the Options tab, and click on “show shortcut keys in screen tips.”

Copying slides

•  Copy and paste your slides

Making Slides Print Correctly

•  Print your slides or handouts of your presentation
Adobe Acrobat
Acrobat is a complicated program, and if you’re going to use it extensively, you’ll be well served by looking at one of the books listed earlier in this guide so you can understand the full functionality of the product.  Below are tutorials and guides to some of the features that lawyers in particular should be familiar with.

Adding headers, footers, and Bates numbers

•  Add headers, footers, and Bates numbering to PDFs
•  Acrobat for Legal Professionals Blog: Posts in Category "Bates Numbering"

Password protect PDFs

•  Password Security using Adobe Acrobat 8 or 9
•  Securing documents with passwords in Acrobat DC

Creating archival PDFs (PDF/A)

•  Description of PDF/A standard and tutorial on creating PDF/A documents

Removing sensitive content

•  Removing sensitive content in Acrobat DC

Removing metadata

•  New Examine Document feature in Acrobat 8-9


•  Redaction Tips and Techniques for Acrobat 8-9
•  Guide to redaction in Acrobat 10-11​
•  Guide to redaction in Acrobat DC
•  Creating and using custom redaction patterns
Keeping Up With Technology For Lawyers
This guide only covers those tools which are most likely to be used frequently by lawyers.  There are a lot more ways to make Office and Acrobat work for you, including shortcuts that will save you time, ways to automate boring and time consuming tasks, and features that are only used in certain specialties.  It’s important to keep developing your skills.  One good way to do that is to follow blogs that write about productivity for lawyers.  Here are a few good ones to keep an eye on:


It's also a good idea to get into the habit of being proactive about looking for technical solutions.  If you think that what you're doing could possibly be automated by a computer (and a lot of things can nowadays), take a moment to search the internet to see if someone has found a way to make your software do more.  It only takes a minute to look, and it can end up saving you a lot of time and frustration.