Volume 19, Number 8
TIPS OF THE TRADE
PRACTICE BETTER, FASTER, & CHEAPER!
Normally we turn to computer experts and technology gurus for the articles published in this magazine. Their expert knowledge provides useful information that helps us in our daily practice of law. Every once in a while, however, we like to include feedback from practicing attorneys and staff members who use that technology on a daily basis in their offices.
To help you do your jobs "better faster and cheaper," we wanted to know how people actually use current technologies to make their practice easier or more efficient. The "tipsters" for this article, members of the General Practice, Solo and Small Firm Division and its Solosez listserv, offered a number of tricks they use in their work.
These include a variety of technology, including manual typewriters; DOS computers; computers with Windows 95, 98, 98 2nd, ME, 2000, and XP operating systems; and Mac Classic OS (several iterations) and OS X (also several versions). Just about all of the tipsters use Microsoft Word (several versions) and/or WordPerfect (also several versions).
Not surprisingly, due to the importance of word processing to all of our practices, the tips list heavily favors word processing software. Most of the suggestions printed in this article refer to Windows software, but Mac users easily can transfer many of these suggestions to the Mac versions of the same software.
The tips are organized in the following categories: word processing in general (for Word or WordPerfect), WordPerfect tips, Word 2000/XP tips, and Windows OS tips. Live dangerously-give them a try.
General Word Processing Tips
1. Include Document Location. Put a footer on all documents that contain the location of the file; after it's been saved, you can print it with a footer stating exactly where the doc is saved on your hard drive. If you use a document management program, use only the unique document number, which you can use later to quickly retrieve the file. This way, you don't risk disclosing client information that could be contained in a file path printed on the document.
2. Use Templates. Save time by creating templates or modifying standard template forms to suit your practice needs. The template creates new documents in a standard form each time you open one. Designate the document as a "draft" until you reach final copy.
3. Make Your Own Letterhead. If you don't use engraved letterhead, create a letterhead on your computer. You can do this in any word processing program, save lots of money in outside printing costs, and speedily create new letterhead if contact information changes.
4. Use QuickWords (WordPerfect) or Autotext (Word). These features can save considerable time in document preparation by substituting keystrokes for many words. Think of them as macros on steroids. QuickWords and Autotext can set up openings, signature blocks, stock paragraphs, commonly used phrases, etc.
5. Bates Labeling. Word and WordPerfect allow you to set up Bates-style labels with combinations of alphanumeric sequences. Print them directly to labels (usually 80 per sheet) and attach to your documents.
6. Word vs. WordPerfect. Both programs have many dedicated users. Stick
with what works best for you. (See the
sidebar "Making the Switch from WordPerfect to Word" on page 30.)
1. Combine Automatic Numbering and Quick Words (WP 9/10, also in earlier versions with modifications). This allows you to quickly insert and sequentially number phrases like "Response to Interrogatory No. X."
To Create the First Response:
Position cursor at the beginning of the line
Ctrl+B to turn on Bold
Ctrl+U to turn on Underline
Type Response to Interrogatory No. X.
Ctrl+Shift+F5 if you are using the Windows keyboard
Use Level 1, Starting Value of 1 and Number type of Legal. Click OK
Ctrl+U to turn off Underline
Ctrl+B to turn off Bold
With the Reveal Codes window open, Select from the Outline code through the space at the end of the line (be sure to include the Outline code)
Tools, Quick Words
To Create the Next Response
with the Next Number:
With the Reveal Codes window open, Select from "Bold On" through "ONE space" at the end of the line (do not include the Outline code)
Tools, Quick Words
To activate the first phrase, type qq spacebar; to activate the second and all additional response phrases, type qw spacebar
2. Custom Exhibit Labels with Increment- ing Numbers (WP10 and earlier versions with modifications). Make your own labels (such as Exhibit No. 1, Exhibit No. 2, and so on) using Tables, Find and Replace, and Label. Use this same method for creating alphabetic index dividers for a ring binder or Bates numbers for exhibit materials. The following steps create a table with the text in rows and columns and then convert the table to text and format for a label (Avery Label 5167 works well):
In a new document, create a two-column table with a row for each required exhibit number
Type Exhibit No. in the first column of the first row; copy that word to all additional cells in that column
In the second column of the first row, type 1
In the second column of the second row, type 2
Select the entire column
Table, Quick Fill
Select Entire Table
Delete (you are going to delete the table definition and keep the text)
Convert table contents/Separate text with other/spacebar/OK
Find and Replace: Find = HRt
Replace = HPg
(These codes can be found in the Edit, Find and Replace, Match, Codes windows)
At beginning of document: Format, Label, and select the label you want to print.
Labels now will print with text and an incrementing number. You can center the text on the label, use different fonts, or apply attributes such as Bold, Italic, or Underlining. You can purchase colored stock or use a colored highlighter on the labels. A color printer creates further options. (Hint: Let the labels sit a few minutes after they're printed before highlighting; the ink may be warm or soft from the laser printer and smear.)
3. Underlining 201 (WP10). You have choices about how to apply lines, the size, style, and color of the line. Go to Format, Font, Underline Tab to set parameters.
Apply to has the following options:
All: Underline appears under text, blank spaces between text and between tabs
Text Only: Underline appears under text only
Text/Spaces: Underline appears under text and spaces (but not tabs)
Text/Tab: Underline appears under text and tabs but not spaces
You can choose an underline style-thin, double, wavy, bold, thick, or even multiple types. Colored lines may not print on a black-and-white printer or when faxing the document from a computer. Hint: If you frequently use a particular underline, include it in the default document settings: File, Document, Current Document Style. After adding it to the default options, be sure to check the Use as Default box.
4. Navigation Tips (WP9/10).
This simple command helps
you navigate the document. The most frequently used Go To is Page Number, but other commands are available: Bookmarks, Position, and Table. Type Ctrl+G to bring up the Go To dialog box; click cursor location button on the Application Bar.
An electronic Boomark
is exactly the same as a paper Bookmark in a book and performs the same function. A document can have several Bookmarks. This feature is especially useful in a form or document being worked on by several users. For example, set a Bookmark at each major heading in a form so the user can easily find it.
To set a Bookmark: Shift+F12, Create, type a name for the Bookmark, Enter or OK. To return to the Book-mark: Ctrl+G and Tab to the Bookmark section, select the Bookmark you want, Enter. You can also use Bookmarks within macros to set the cursor at a particular text position.
QuickMark is a special form of Bookmark that can appear only once in a document (it's basically a Bookmark by another name). You can manually set the QuickMark from the main Bookmark dialog box or set an automatic insert at the cursor point on File Save and jump right to it on File Open. This is useful for a large document that will be worked on over a number of days, so you can open directly to the mark each time. To set a QuickMark on Save and return to the QuickMark when the document is opened, go to Tools, Bookmark, and simply check the box marked Set QuickMark on File Save; go to QuickMark on File Open.
5. Text Editing with Sticky Notes, Comments, Highlight (WP10).
A Sticky Note is a custom graphic box like a Post-It note; it inserts notes into a document that will also print: Insert, Graphics, Custom Box, and select Style/Sticky Notes, click OK, position the pointer where the note should appear. Stretch the box to the size needed. Click to anchor the note, and type your message. Because the Sticky Note prints on the document, it's a great way to communicate on hard copies, especially with computer-phobes. The note box can be edited, positioned, or deleted using the secondary mouse button.
This electronic message can be used as a very valuable tickler file to remind you about specific things. They can be used in a letter to note when or from whom certain information will come, or as alternate language to be used in a form. Comments do not print in a document but do add to its size. Think of it as an electronic message to the user to relay information about the document or a portion of the text that needs explanation.
To create a new comment, go to Insert, Comment, Create. The window lets you type text; go to the previous or next comment; or mark the document with user initials, name, date, or time. The Text Property Bar contains buttons to quickly access these features and also contains a Close Comment button for returning to the document. If you are in Page View, a Comment appears in the left margin. (Check Tools, Settings, Environment, User Information to have initials and color reflect the Comment.)
You can convert comments to text within the document. If you have a form document containing alternate paragraphs, Comment the alternate text used least. Another good time to use Comment is if you're undecided whether to include the text but don't want to delete it. Select the text to make it a Comment. If you decide you want the text in the document, position the cursor after the Comment and Convert to Text.
Electronic highlights are the same as markers and emphasize selected text. Click Highlight and select text. Highlighting in form documents can mark the location of required text, which can then be inserted or removed using Find and Replace. This can be done many times in a document. When you're done, leave the new text highlighted and save the document in the client location. To print a final copy of the completed form, select Tools, Highlight, Print/Show to remove the color-this doesn't remove the Highlight but simply prints a document that looks "finished." Turn Highlight on by selecting the Print/Show option. To permanently remove all Highlights, select the document and Tools, Highlight, Remove.
Word 2000/XP Tips
1. Document Map. You can access the Document Map from Menu View, Document Map or from the button on the right half of the Standard Toolbar showing a magnifying glass on top of a window. Clicking it opens a window to the left of the document that contains all the major style headings in that doc. This is great for a form agreement, contract, will, trust, or brief. Clicking on the Heading that appears on the Document Map moves the cursor directly to that heading in the document. Note: Document Map displays in Normal and Print Layout Views.
2. Style Area. With the document view in Normal, select Tools, Options, and the View tab. At the bottom, under Outline and Normal Options, is a box called Style Area Width. Set it to 0.75. A narrow window opens to the left of the document displaying the style of each paragraph in the document. Double-clicking on the Style name opens the style for editing. You can also select a style from the Toolbar or Menu and assign it to the paragraph. Note: The Style Area appears only in Normal, not Print Layout, View.
3. AutoText. Add standard paragraphs as AutoText, which prompts you to use stored information. You can accept AutoText by touching Enter; simply keep typing if you choose not to use the AutoText information.
4. Rapid Ruler. If you need more space on the desktop for your document and you really don't use the Ruler often, eliminate it. To do so, click View, Ruler. A checkmark by Ruler makes it visible. If you need the Ruler to set a tab or indent, you don't have to turn it back on; simply move the mouse pointer to the narrow border at the top of the document, let the tip of the point hover for a second or two, and the Ruler will appear. Keeping the pointer on the Ruler, select the desired tab, indent, or margin. When you move the pointer away from the Ruler, it disappears.
5 . Format Painter. You can quickly copy the Format of one paragraph onto another using the Format Painter.
To use this function, highlight the paragraph with the Format you want to copy, click on the yellow paintbrush icon on the Toolbar, click on the paragraph with the Format you want to change. If you want to apply the same Format to more than one paragraph, double-click on the yellow paintbrush icon; when you're finished Formatting all the paragraphs, click on the paintbrush icon again to turn off the Format Painter.
6. Customize. You can customize the Toolbar so it includes the features you need and leaves out ones you don't. This can simplify your screen and free up display space.
Windows OS Tips
1. System Maintenance. System maintenance needs to be performed regularly. Defrag the hard drives and run "full" Scandisks periodically. The Defragment utility is found under Start, Programs, Accessories, System Tools. Run this at least quarterly with a full Scandisk, especially if users frequently use the PC's power button or reset button to shut down the system. Run a full Scandisk at least monthly.
2. Remove Resource Sappers from the System Tray. Each item loaded in the System Tray uses System Resources. By removing unnecessary items, you make those resources available for use by other applications. Some unused items may be in your Startup programs, which you can access by right-clicking on the Start button and clicking Explore. Scroll to Start Menu, Programs, Startup. If you're unsure whether it's safe to completely remove something, make a subfolder called "Not Startup" and move the items there. Other items in your System Tray may need to be removed from the Windows Registry. However, do not remove such items if you're not absolutely certain you know what you're doing when it comes to the Registry. Ask for help from someone who does.
3 . Clean House. Clean out your Win-dows "temp" folder regularly (generally found at C:\Windows\Temp). Keeping the Temp folder clean and empty greatly improves the computer's performance. Windows 98 is supposed to do this automatically upon exiting the system, but just like us, it often forgets.
4. Lose the Pictures. Turn off Screen Savers and Desktop Backgrounds. This is especially important if they exceed the size of the standard Windows files (which downloaded files often do). You really don't need a pretty picture on the desktop-a colored background with a solid pattern is easier on the system. Note: Windows Themes also take up extra resources, and you can improve performance by avoiding them.
5. Minimize, Don't Close and Reopen. Minimize programs instead of closing them. Closed programs do not return the same amount of System Resources that they absorbed when the program opened. If you use a program intermittently during the day, minimize it and restore it to full-screen mode when you need it.
6 . Get a Fresh Start. Close programs on your way to lunch and reboot after. Users often notice their system works slower or locks up more frequently later in the day. Rebooting the system during the day refreshes the System's Resources, just as a lunch break refreshes yours.
7. Who's Watching? Remove Spy Ware programs from your PC. These uninvited and generally unwanted programs often automatically download and install themselves onto your system. They can do all sorts of scary things but most often transmit marketing information about your usage patterns and even purchasing habits. Aside from the privacy issues, these programs can seriously destabilize any version of Windows. Download and run the free program AdAware from Lavasoft, Inc. (www.lavasoftusa.com/aaw.html), which will scour the PC's hard drives for offending Spy Ware and eradicate it. Run this at least quarterly.
8. The Penultimate Cure for Windows 98 Problems (also works for Windows 95, 98 2nd ed., and ME). Upgrade to Windows 2000 Professional or Win-dows XP Professional.
9. The Ultimate Cure for All Windows Problems. Get a Mac!
Partner with JAG Officers
Volunteers are needed to help military attorneys with their clients' family law problems. "Operation Stand By" is a project of the ABA Family Law Section's Military Committee, which has handled so many referrals and inquiries that the program is being expanded to the General Practice, Solo and Small Firm Division, in light of all the work that's involved with current deployments.
Those who sign up agree to handle calls, e-mails, or other correspondence from JAG officers and answer inquiries about family law issues in their state. For civilian practitioners, this is a great source of referrals from other states, Japan, or Germany, and a way to provide much-needed help for lawyers in uniform. Volunteers will be a powerful ally for military lawyers who provide legal assistance and need specific state law information or referral to a lawyer who can help a client with personal matters.
Those who sign up for the program will receive six e-mail handouts covering the following areas:
1. overseas divorce and foreign/domestic court decrees
2 wording military pension clauses
3. retrieving "lost" military pensions
4. arranging direct payments for military pensions from DFAS (also contains a copy of the checklist used by DFAS)
5. assisting servicemembers with military pension division
6. representing members' spouses
To sign up, send your name, firm name (if applicable), phone and fax numbers, address, and e-mail address to: Mark E. Sullivan, Co-Chair, Military Committee, ABA Family Law Section, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org..