Until lawyers stop drafting contracts the old fashioned way, Word is here to stay. But there are many time-saving tricks in Word that lawyers don't know about. How much time will you save on that next advice or transaction document?
1. View multiple parts of one document simultaneously
Lawyers needing to refer to multiple places in the same document, such as a definitions section and specific clauses or a clause and a schedule, shouldn't waste time scrolling between the two.
It's possible to open multiple windows of the same document from the View tab and, critically, edits can be made in any window opened.
2. Customised grammar checking
Word has a significant number of grammar checking rules turned off by default. In particular, many relate to either firm style-guide requirements or principles of good legal writing.
For example, each of the following grammar rules can each be applied through Word's automated grammar check:
- Two spaces after the previous sentence.
- Passive voice.
- Oxford Commas.
- Use of contractions.
- Split infinitives.
- Gender-specific Language.
Here are some of the (many) grammar rules my version of Word has turned-off:
Unfortunately there aren't (yet) in-built grammar rules for checking whether quotation marks or brackets are closed once they've been used. These can, however, be automated using a macro. Macros are covered in many of the resources linked below.
Follow these steps to check which rules are currently being applied when Word runs a spelling and grammar check:
3. Format Painter
Lawyers working with numbered lists, bullets or many different heading styles should be familiar with Format Painter. Simply place your cursor in (or highlight) the formatted text you want copied, and then highlight the destination text you want formatted. But there are a few tricks even seasoned lawyers don't know:
- Double click the Format Painter button for it to stay on. This is a great time-saver if there are multiple areas requiring identical formatting.
- You can copy and paste formatting with a keyboard shortcut First highlight the text you want to copy and do Control + Shift + C together - then highlight the destination text you want formatted and press Control + Shift + V together to paste. Perhaps more significantly - this shortcut can be used to copy formatting across from different Word documents as well.
4. Find and Replace - Advanced Edition
Find and Replace is a seriously underappreciated tool. You can automate checking for style-guide compliance or conformity with good legal drafting practices by, for example:
- finding defined terms which are uncapitalised and replacing them with capitalised ones;
- finding manual line breaks/soft-line breaks/shift-returns (Shift + Enter) and replacing them with a carriage return/hard-line break to ensure consistent formatting in your document.
A common trap for lawyers experimenting with Find and Replace is inadvertently replacing things. Choose "Replace" rather than "Replace All" to check what is going to be replaced beforehand.
A step-by-step guide to discovering the wonderment of Find and Replace.
We'll be releasing Part 2 of our time-saving tips for lawyers soon. But until then there are a range of excellent resources for entrenched users of Word:
- Flavio Morgado, Microsoft Word Secrets: The Why and How of Getting Word to do What You Want, 2017
- F. Mark Schiavone, Building Complex Documents: Using Microsoft Word 2010 & 2013, 2014
- Ben M Schorr, The Lawyer's Guide to Microsoft Word 2013, or for Word 2010
- Jack M Lyon, Macro Cookbook for Microsoft Word, 2011 and Jack M Lyon, Wildcard Cookbook for Microsoft Word, 2015
- Jacques Raubenheimer, Doing your Dissertation in Microsoft Word, 2013
- Steven Roman, Writing Word Macros, 1999