Tips and Tricks – Microsoft Word Best of Automation and Time Savers

The most recent Afinety University Tips & Tricks webinar focused on Microsoft Word Automation tools. The Tips and Tricks webinar series is designed for attorneys, paralegals, and legal assistants looking to increase their proficiency in Microsoft Word and other common law firm software programs. This series is led by Diana Baker, who has over 20 years of experience working in the legal field. Below, we’ve highlighted important tips and takeaways for increasing your efficiency using Automation tools. In case you missed the latest session, the full webinar is available on demand.

Viewing Microsoft Word Documents

When viewing documents in Microsoft Word, especially lengthy documents, it can be helpful to have the option to view the different properties and styles associated with the specific text. There are a few features that can be helpful when viewing and working through a document.

One option is to work in Reveal Formatting. Reveal formatting allows users to view the current font and paragraph formatting. To access reveal formatting, hit “SHIFT + F1”. Once opened, select the text in the working document to see the properties of the specific, selected text.

Another recommendation is to turn on “Show/Hide”, which can be accessed on the Home ribbon under the Paragraph group. Working with Show/Hide turned on will display nonprinting characters like hard returns, line breaks, section breaks, tabs, spaces, hard hyphens, and hard spaces.

Users can also use the Navigation Pane to view their document based on either heading styles or page. To browse by headings or page, go to the View ribbon and check the Navigation Pane within the Show group. Then, either select “browse the heading” or “browse the pages” based on your preference.

The third option to view your document is to show the Style Area. The Style Area is a quick and easy way to see the specific styles associated with each paragraph. Before working in Style Area, the document must be in “Draft View”. To turn on “Draft View” go to the View ribbon and click on Draft.  Next, go to the File tab, Options, Advanced and under Display, specify a measurement in Style Area width, (such as .7). Once done, the style names will appear to the left of the paragraphs.

Creating Customizations

Some find it helpful to create a custom ribbon tab or customize the quick access toolbar to increase efficiency while working through their documents by having fast access to the unique tools they use most.

Users can create a custom ribbon tab by selecting specific commands to include. To do so, right click on the blank gray area to the right of the existing ribbons and choose Customize the Ribbon. On the right side of the panel, select New Tab, rename the tab, select OK. Later, there is always the option to add commands to this custom ribbon tab on the “customize ribbon” screen. Select commands from the “choose commands from”, hit add and then OK.

Users also have the option to customize the Quick Access Toolbar (“QAT”) by adding buttons. The QAT can be displayed above or below the ribbon. To display below the ribbon, select the drop-down arrow at the end of the QAT and choose “Show Below the Ribbon”. Displaying the QAT / below the ribbon may make it easier to view the full toolbar.

In addition to customizing the QAT and creating a custom ribbon tab, users can also customize shortcut keys. Customizing specific shortcut keys, unique to personal preference will improve efficiency in formatting a document. To begin assigning a shortcut key to a feature, click the File tab, Options, Customize Ribbon, and Keyboard shortcuts: Customize located at bottom of the Customize Ribbon dialog box.  From there, select the category of the feature from the categories list box and the commands for the category display in the commands box. Once the command is selected, place your cursor in the shortcut key text box and combine SHIFT, CTRL, ALT with other keys to make the shortcut key. Choose “Assign” and close out from the customize keyboard box.

Automating Word

Auto Text is a Microsoft Word feature which allows users to quickly insert selections of text into a document. This text is stored as an AutoText in a Word Template and can be inserted at any time into other documents. AutoText is often used to add boilerplate language in their documents, like discovery language, for example.

Before creating an AutoText entry, it is recommended to add the Auto Text button to the QAT. (see above) Once complete, begin creating an AutoText entry by typing the text or opening the document that contains the text to be used as AutoText. Again, make sure “show / hide” is turned on while working. Select this text and include the paragraph mark at the end of the text to include paragraph formatting. Click on the AutoText button and with the selected text, choose “Save Selection to Auto Text Gallery”. Choose a name for this auto text entry within the “Create New Building Block” dialog box.  A tip when naming these entries is to start with * so that it is unique. In the “Create New Building Block” dialog box, choose the gallery and category this AutoText entry should be saved to. Now, this AutoText entry can be inserted to a document at any time!

To insert an AutoText entry into a current document, place your cursor in the spot where the AutoText entry should be inserted and type the unique name given to the Auto Text entry and press “enter” once the smart tag pops up.  Or, select the AutoText button from the QAT and locate the AutoText entry from the list.

AutoCorrect is another Microsoft Word feature that is similar to AutoText. AutoCorrect can be used to correct mistyped words or insert a word into a document, the typed text is automatically replaced with the AutoCorrect entry. AutoCorrect can be helpful when inserting a long firm name or client’s name and prevents any spelling errors.

First, select the word or phrase to create the AutoCorrect entry with and then choose File and then Options. From there, select Proofing and “AutoCorrect Options”. The AutoCorrect dialog box will open, and the selected text appears in the “with” text box. Type the text to replace in the “replace” box. Choose “OK” and the entry will be added to the AutoCorrect list.

Quick Parts / Building Blocks

Microsoft Word’s Quick Parts feature allows users to save selected text or graphics and place them into documents without having to retype, this includes AutoText and other document properties like author and fields. Once Quick Parts are created, they can be used again and again.

Building Blocks are a part of Quick Parts that are reusable document pieces like headers, borders, table of contents, title pages, and more. All of these are stored in “galleries.” To create a new building block, type and select all the contents to be included. From the Insert ribbon, within the Text group, select the Explore Quick Parts drop-down and click the Save Selection to Quick Part Gallery. Complete the options in the create new building block dialog box including Name, Category, Gallery, Description, Save in and Options. The Building Blocks Organizer can be used to preview and insert these building blocks into the document.

Microsoft Word has many valuable features and with these additional tips and tricks, users can increase efficiency and overall save time. For more tips and tricks recaps and on demand replays – check it out here!

Tips and Tricks – Microsoft Word Table of Authorities

Afinety University Tips & Tricks Webinar Series is perfect for those working in the legal field looking to develop their skills in Microsoft Word and other common law firm software programs. This series is instructed by Diana Baker, Afinety’s Macro Developer and Trainer. Diana has over 20 years of experience working in the legal field. Her webinars demonstrate tools for attorneys, paralegals, and legal assistants to increase efficiency in Microsoft Word and save valuable time creating documents. The most recent webinar focused on Microsoft Word’s Table of Authorities feature. We’ve put together some of the key tips and features below, but you can watch the full webinar here.

Marking a Citation

Before getting started with the Table of Authorities feature, there are a few things to keep in mind. First, make sure the document is in its final draft before marking for a Table of Authorities. Second, turn on the “show / hide” option. This allows users to see the Table of Authorities field codes that will be inserted. Once these steps are complete, begin scanning for citations and highlighting.

There are two options for marking citations, users can go through the References tab, Table of Authorities group, and then select “marked citation”. The alternative option is to use shortcut key, ALT + SHIFT + I. From here, go through the document and mark the remaining citations. Another option is to use the “next citation” feature, but scanning line by line is recommended, as this feature can sometimes accidentally skip over citations.

Mark Citation Dialog Box

Let’s break down the mark citation dialog box. First, is the selected text. Edit this text how it should appear in the final generated Table of Authorities. For example, some lawyers may have a preference on abbreviations and other specific formatting. Next, select the category of the citation. A common mistake here is forgetting to select the correct category. Below category is short citation. A short citation should consist of a common factor that is contained in the long cites and in the short cites that are referenced throughout the document. Short citations are marked with a “short cite” field code. To finish using the mark citation dialog box, select “Mark All” and close. If an error is made, revisions can be made and then updated on the Table of Authorities. This will be reviewed later on.

Generating a Table of Authorities

Once ready to generate a Table of Authorities, turn off “show / hide” option. Next, place the cursor in the exact spot to insert the Table of Authorities and go to the References tab, click “Insert Table of Authorities”.  By default, “use passim” is checked. This means that if a citation is referenced on more than 5 or 6 pages of a document, “use passim” will be listed in place of all the page numbers. For formatting, keep original and the category “All” can be selected. Once complete, users should select “OK” to generate their Table of Authorities.

Fixing Errors in Table of Authorities

One common mistake when fixing errors in the Table of Authorities is editing the information directly within the generated Table of Authorities. This is the wrong approach because any manual edits made to the Table of Authorities will be lost once it is updated or regenerated. Instead, users should properly fix errors by revisiting the Table of Authorities field code and making edits there. To then make revisions complete, regenerate or update the Table of Authorities.

For additional tips and tricks on the software programs you use most, register for an upcoming webinar.

Tips and Tricks – Microsoft Word Styles, Multilevel Numbering & Tables of Contents

Afinety University Tips & Tricks Webinar Series is designed for attorneys, paralegals, and legal assistants who would like to develop their skills in Microsoft Word and other common law firm software programs. Instructor Diana Baker, Afinety’s Macro Developer and Trainer, has over 20 years of experience working in the legal field and demonstrates easy tools to increase your efficiency in her webinars. This month’s webinar focused on how to format a pleading using Heading Styles and Multilevel Numbering, as well as generate a Table of Contents with a click of a button. We’ve highlighted some of the key takeaways below, but you can access the full webinar here.


Styles are a collection of formatting instructions which greatly enhance document automation and production. To get started with Styles, open the Styles Pane which will list styles contained in the document. Users can apply, modify or create new styles from the Styles Pane.

A user can preview styles by ticking the “Show Preview” box located near the bottom of the Styles Pane.  Additional options for viewing the Styles Pane include the choice to show styles in the current document and sort the list of styles alphabetically or as recommended. Additionally, it is recommended to remove paragraph, font and bullet formatting from displaying in Styles Pane.

When creating new styles, it is best to start from scratch and base styles on “normal” and then build out each style by formatting the font and paragraph settings, and other preferences.  When setting line spacing in a pleading document, one important tip is to set the spacing to Exactly 24 points (for double spacing) or Exactly 12 points (for single spacing) so the line spacing of the text of the pleading matches the line spacing used in the line numbering embedded in the header.  A tip for Heading styles is to select “keep with next paragraph” and “keep lines together” in order to keep headings from appearing as the last line of text on a page.

Style Area

Instead of viewing Styles in a pane, users have the option to view in Style Area. To set up this feature, go to the File tab, Options, Advanced, Display, bringing you to the option “Style area pane width in Draft and Outline views” – insert a measurement like 0.7.”  To see the Style Area in the left margin, you must be in Draft or Outline View.

Creating your own Style

To create a new Style in Microsoft Word, go to Styles Pane and select “A+ New Style”. From there, fill in the details, such as naming the style, select the style type as paragraph, style based on normal, and style for following paragraph. Then format the font, paragraph settings, and more.

Multilevel Numbering

To begin working with multilevel numbering, select the Multilevel List drop down located in the paragraph group in the Home ribbon.  From the List Library, select a list that closely resembles the type of multilevel numbering you want to add to your Heading styles.  Open the Multilevel list drop down again, and choose Define New List Style.  Name the List Style, click Format and choose Numbering.  Format each level of numbering and link to the respective Heading style.  Be sure to watch the video for more details on formatting multilevel list numbering.

Table of Contents

If you applied heading styles to all headings throughout your document, you can generate a Table of Contents with a click of a button.  Place your cursor in the exact spot where you want to insert the Table of Contents, from the References ribbon, click the drop down in the Table of Contents button, and choose Custom Table Contents.  Users have the option to change the formatting of table of contents, by selecting and modifying “TOC Styles”.  As a reminder, the “use hyperlinks” setting is turned on by default.  Click OK to generate the Table of Contents.

Moving Forward

You can easily add the styles you create or modify into the template the document is attached to, so you have access to these styles in new documents moving forward.  When modifying or creating the style, tick the “new documents based on this template” box.  Another tip Baker mentioned was, do not select the “automatically update” button for styles because anytime direct formatting is applied to a word or paragraph, that formatting will be added to the style that word or paragraph is in.

For additional tips and tricks on the software programs you use most, register for an upcoming webinar.

Tips and Tricks – Microsoft Word Track Changes and Document Comparison

Recently, the Afinety University Webinar Series looked at “tips and tricks” regarding the track changes and document comparison features in Microsoft Word. Led by Diana Baker, Afinety’s Macro Developer and Trainer, the webinar covered best practices when tracking changes, options for markup and displaying changes, printing with or without markup, and features when comparing or combining documents in MS Word. Diana’s background in the legal field allowed for great insight and practical tips that can be easily applied when working with legal documents.  Here’s an overview of a few of the key features, but you’ll want to watch the webinar for a full walkthrough.

Getting Started with Track Changes

For quick access to turning the track changes feature on or off, there is a shortcut key, “CTRL+ Shift + E”.

One of the most common complaints about track changes is many say they are unable to see changes that have been made, especially when using an upgraded version of Microsoft Word. When opening a document that contains tracked changes, the default Display for Review is set to “simple markup”. Simple markup displays a red line in the left margin, letting the author know something has changed within that paragraph, although it doesn’t show the specific changes. In order to see the specific changes, it’s really as simple as clicking the drop-down in the Display for Review field and selecting the “All Markup” option.

Track Changes with Multiple Authors

If a document has been modified by multiple people, changes will display in a different color based on which author made the changes. Selecting the option, “show revisions in balloons”, displays the name of the author together with the author’s respective changes. Users can easily display the document showing a specific author’s changes using the “Specific People” option in the Show Markup settings.

Advanced Options

The Track Changes Options dialog box contains various options that control what edits show in the document, what shows in Balloons and a choice to have the Reviewing Pane on or off.  The color and format of inserted and deleted text can also be changed in the Advanced Options.

Protecting Track Changes When Collaborating on a Document with Others

In order to make sure Track Changes is kept on when collaborating on a Word document, the document can be locked with a password.  This will prevent others from turning Track Changes off.

Warn Before Printing, Saving or Sending

Since Word allows users to view a document in original or no markup mode, in which case it does not display tracked changes, it is not uncommon for users to be unaware of the fact that they are tracking changes or that changes have not been accepted or rejected.  Alerts can also be set up when starting to save or send a document that contains tracked changes.

Printing with Track Changes On or Off

Users have the option to print with or without tracked changes on their document.  Set the Display for Review to “No Mark” to print the document as if all changes have been accepted.  Set the Display for Review to “All Markup” to print the document with the Tracked Changes.

Differentiating Between Comparing and Combining a Document

The difference between the compare and combine features has to do with the two documents being worked on. For example, the “Compare” feature would be used to compare two files that do not have track changes turned on.  The “Compare” feature will note changes between the two files as “tracked changes.”  The original document is compared to a revised version of the document.

The “Combine” feature would be used to compare two documents that do contain tracked changes.  As an example, let’s say you made some changes to a document and tracked those changes.  Then, the document is sent to another person, and that person makes changes and tracked them.  There are now two versions of the document, each with their own tracked changes.  The “Combine” feature would be used to view a document that combines all tracked changes.

Comparing a Word Doc to a PDF

Comparing a Word Document to a PDF can have some challenges. This is partly due to the styles in a particular document. Word takes the PDF and puts it into an editable Word document. The resulting comparison of the original Word document and PDF that was converted to Word, will show all styles in the original Word document as formatting changes.

For additional tips and tricks on the software programs you use most, register for an upcoming webinar.