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:
Adobe's website has an introduction to Acrobat.
You can also ask the reference librarians or the IT Department for help getting started.
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”
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
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.
Formatting a Document
This is a common task when writing briefs
How to create a table of authorities or table of contents.
• 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 (lawyerist.com)
This is a useful guide to all the steps involved in formatting a legal brief in Word
How to format a brief
• How to format an appellate brief (lawyerist.com)
If you create a kind of document frequently, you can save time formatting it by creating a template.
How to create a template for documents you produce often
• Video: Create an easily customizable template in Word 2010
• Using Legal Templates in Word 2013
Styles make it easier to create and modify documents, and cut down on formatting mistakes.
How to use styles in your documents
• Using Microsoft Word Styles (lawyerist.com)
• Change Default Font and Spacing
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 view and fix formatting
Field codes are placeholders for information like dates and client names. You can use them to automate repetitive parts of document creation.
How to use field codes
• Field codes in Word
• Insert fields
• The missing date code in your Microsoft Word document (lawyerist.com)
• Auto numbering Microsoft Word documents: beyond paragraphs (lawyerist.com)
Advanced page numbering
• Insert sections with different page numbers (4:59 min)
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
• Track Changes (3:49 min)
How to track changes
• Don’t let track changes trip you up (lawyerist.com)
• Insert or delete a comment
Commenting on documents
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”)
• Don’t lose that file! using Microsoft Word’s AutoRecover (lawyerist.com)
How to recover a lost document
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 (lawyerist.com)
• Archiving items manually
• Archiving items using rules
• 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 (lawyerist.com)
• How to schedule an appointment
Adding an appointment
• Change an appointment, event, or meeting
• 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 (lawyerist.com)
• Use project tasks in Business Contact Manager
• Assigning Outlook tasks to others (lawyerist.com)
Assigning Tasks to Others
• Managing Outlook reminders (lawyerist.com)
• Add or remove a reminder for an email message or contact
Adding people to your contacts list• Create or add a contact
• Three Microsoft Outlook Quick Tricks (lawyerist.com)
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 TipsIf 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
Why do lawyers need to know Excel?• How lawyers can use Excel
The basics of cells, rows, columns, and sheets• Video: start using Excel (4:24)
Basic row/column manipulation• Freeze or lock rows and columns
• Show or hide columns and rows
• Change the column width and row height
Formatting data• Conditionally formatted data: Examples and guidelines
Using simple formulas• Overview of formulas
• Cell referencing
Using template spreadsheets• Use and save an Excel template
• Video: Create an Excel 2010 workbook from a template (2:35)
• Excel templates for budgets, invoices, calendars, and more
Sort/filter functions• Sort data in a worksheet
Charts and graphs• Create a chart from start to finish
• Choosing a good chart format
Printing a spreadsheet• Print a worksheet or workbook
• Excel printing for newbies
• Print row and column headings on every printed page
• Set a print area on a worksheet
• Set page margins before printing a worksheet
• Use Page Layout view to fine-tune pages before printing
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
Redacting• 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
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.