Microsoft Office Word is one of the simplest, yet most important programs for many people. You might have played around with it as a child in your mom’s or dad’s office. In school, you could’ve used it to write papers.
Now, you’d be surprised if a day goes by without opening Word. It’s a program you use every day and might think you’ve mastered. The truth is, there is always more to learn!
You might use Word to draft contracts, write briefs, and even take notes during meetings. In order to get the most out of Word as a lawyer, you need to know how to use it properly.
You must have noticed all the tabs and buttons that present themselves at the top. Each has a purpose, and many can be used to support legal writing.
You can download programs that will add extra features to Microsoft Word and make it even more suitable for lawyers. There is a lot you can do with such a simple program! Keep reading if you want to find out how to use Word for lawyers.
If you’ve never gotten an education in Microsoft Word, you might think that formatting everything “by hand” is easier than selecting predetermined styles. It might be if you’re working on a short text that only has two styles. However, when you’re working on an official legal document, Microsoft Word styles can be very helpful.
It’s hard to maintain consistent formatting all throughout a document. Styles make it very easy. Instead of manually choosing the font and text size for every piece of text, you can select a predetermined style.
That will save you lots of time and effort. If you know how annoying it can be to try to get everything to look coherent in Word, you’ll appreciate styles!
Any given contract goes through stages of approval. Every stage can bring changes to the contract. The first draft rarely gets to be the last. With all these changes taking place, you want to be able to keep track of them.
The track changes feature allows you to suggest changes without implementing them just yet. They can then be implemented or rejected.
If you’re involved in the final stages of approval, you can have an overview of all the suggested changes and decide which get to stay. The changes are visible right away, as they are presented in a different color. This way you won’t be confused about what’s changed, and you’ll know exactly where to look.
If you liked styles, you’re going to love templates! Microsoft has a library of templates you can use for your writing. They are basically collections of styles. If you want to write a letter, for example, the template will provide a special place for writing the address, and so on.
Some templates in the library may be useful to you, but what’s even more useful is the ability to create your own templates. You can really go all out here and do what your heart desires. Of course, legal writing rarely offers space for creative freedom.
At least you can streamline the formatting process and focus on the contents of your writing. Create any number of templates that have been successful in the past and use them to save time and avoid tedious formatting.
Working with others can be hard, especially when you’re struggling to communicate. One of the most efficient ways to communicate about a particular document is right in the document.
Microsoft Word gives you that opportunity through the comments feature. Add a comment to a particular word, sentence, or even paragraph. Let your co-editors know how you feel about it.
Comments offer a great and easy way to provide feedback and suggest changes without actually making changes to the text. They can also be used for positive reinforcement, such as letting the writer know that they did an amazing job on a specific paragraph.
The legal blackline option allows you to compare two documents. This is great when you have two versions of one contract that you want to compare. Word actually presents the changes in a visual format, making them easier to comprehend. The original documents remain unchanged, but you can generate a new document with any changes of your choice.
Microsoft Word add-ins
The fun doesn’t stop at Microsoft Word! You can add extra features to Word with the use of Microsoft Word add-ins. Such programs include Grammarly, Loio, Office Tab, and more. They simply add features that Word doesn’t already have.
All the aforementioned programs are very useful for lawyers. If you want to improve your writing further, you should give them a try.
Do your own research!
Knowing how to use Word definitely helps, but you can do your own research too and find what works for you through trial and error. Take the tips above seriously and try to implement them in your daily life.
And if you see a fancy button that you want to press, do it! It might lead you to discover a wonderful feature you never knew you needed.