Updated April 28, 2009
Prepared by Mary Whisner & Cheryl Nyberg
Microsoft Word is a complex and powerful application. This guide does not come close to covering all the tricks – there are whole books for that, not to mention Word’s own help screens (Ask the paperclip!) and Support Knowledge Base. Instead, this guide just gives you some of our favorite tips.
We created this guide in 2006-07, when we were using Word 2003 on PCs running Windows. Some tips (like those for organizing your files) apply to any platform. We've updated many of the other tips to include instructions for Word 2007 on PCs and Word 2008 for Mac.
Wouldn’t it be great to be able to cut and paste from LexisNexis or a website into your Word document without all the formatting? You can!
Word 2007: In the home ribbon, Paste is at far left. Use the drop-down menu to choose Paste Special.
Word 2008 for Mac: Edit > Paste Special.
Word 2003: Go to the toolbar, click on Edit, click on Paste Special, click on Unformatted Text.
But that’s a lot of mousing. You can set up a keyboard shortcut.
Microsoft gives you instructions to make CTRL-V be your shortcut for Paste Special. But then you can’t use CTRL-V for those occasions when you want the other formatting. So I set it up so that CTRL-V is the regular paste and ALT-V is Paste Special. Here’s how:How to create a macro in Word 2003 so ALT-V is Paste Special
- On the Tools menu, point to Macro, and then click Macros to display the Macros dialog box.
- In the Macro name box, type PasteUnformattedText.
- Make sure that All active templates and documents is displayed in the Macros in list, and then click Create. The Microsoft Visual Basic Editor is displayed. [This looks like programming, but don't worry about it.]
- Directly above the End Sub statement in the PasteUnformattedText subroutine [your cursor will be right here], type the following:
- Selection.PasteSpecial DataType:=wdPasteText
- On the File menu, click Close and Return to Microsoft Word.
Now you need to instruct Word to run the PasteUnformattedText macro each time you press the ALT+V keyboard shortcut.
- On the Tools menu, click Customize.
- Click the Keyboard button.
- Make sure the Save changes in box displays Normal.dot.
- In the Categories list, click Macros.
- In the Macros list, click PasteUnformattedText.
- Click in the Press new shortcut key box, press ALT and V at the same time. The Press new shortcut key box displays Alt+V.
- Click Assign.
- Click Close and then click Close again.
(Examples use §.)
Long way: Insert > Symbol > More Symbols > Special Characters > choose § > Insert > Close
Keyboard Shortcut. Insert > Symbol > More Symbols > Special Characters > choose § > Shortcut Key. Then make up a key combination you can remember. (We use ctrl-8.) > Assign > Close.
Set up AutoCorrect. Insert > Symbol > More Symbols > Special Characters > choose § > AutoCorrect. Then make up a string of letters (e.g., "sec." or "s*") that you can type and have replaced with § > Add > Close.
Long way: Insert > Symbol > Special Characters tab > Choose § > Click on Insert > Close.
Keyboard Shortcut. Insert > Symbol > Special Characters tab > Choose § > Click on Shortcut Key > Enter ALT-8 (or whatever you’ll be able to remember). > Click Assign > Close
Long way: Insert > Symbol > Special Characters > choose § > Insert > Close
AutoCorrect: Insert > Symbol > Special Characters > choose § > AutoCorrect > enter letters you can remember (e.g., "sec." or "s*") > Add > OK
Turning it on: Tools, Track Changes (or: CTRL-SHIFT-E).
Important: After you are through editing, you need to get rid of those tracked changes, or else anyone who gets your document as an attachment will see them. Microsoft has a very helpful article that explains it.
Instead of saving all your documents in the My Documents folder with short, blah file names like “Letter,” “Memo,” and “Draft 2,” consider some of the following ideas.
Create a new folder for each class or major project
Use descriptive file names
Use dates in file names for notes or minutes
Add a word or two to help with retrieval later
Word is set up to do a lot automatically. For instance, if you start a line with a number, it assumes that you want the next line to be numbered too. But that can drive you crazy if you don’t want it.
I like to uncheck “Ordinals (1st) with superscript,” because I don’t like 1st Cir., 9th Cir., etc. (The Bluebook also doesn’t like it.)
Word automatically corrects some common typos. For instance, if you type “acheive,” Word corrects it to “achieve.” This is a good thing – unless you’re trying to write about someone whose name is “Moeny” and Word keeps changing it to “Money.”
You can take words out of the AutoCorrect list.
You can also add words to the AutoCorrect list. For instance, I often type “appeallate” for “appellate” and “Wetlaw” for “Westlaw.” So I’ve added those problem words to my AutoCorrect list.
Similarly, you can add phrases to the AutoText list. For instance, if you type “personal jurisdiction” or “W.H. (Joe) Knight” a lot, you can set it up so that when you start typing the first letters, Word will give you prompt for the whole thing and all you have to do is press Enter.
Most Word users have already discovered how easy it is to copy and paste website Uniform Resource Locators (URLs) into Word documents. A link in the document appears in blue (or another color of your choosing) and can be activated by using the Control + Enter combination.
Did you know that you can embed hyperlinks in a Word document? Embedding the link allows the text in the document to flow naturally and avoids the disruption caused by those mostly unreadable URLs.
To embed a hyperlink:
You can also:
What about creating links in a Word document to cases, law review articles, and other items on LexisNexis and Westlaw? Copying and pasting a link resulting from a search may not work because the contents of databases change. Both services provide options for creating stable URLs to retrieve documents.
When you have retrieved the desired document in LexisNexis, you can use the Copy w/ Cite feature.
You can read more about this feature in the LexisNexis for Law Schools Knowledge Base.
Westlaw's Law School website describes a software program called WestCiteLink "that automatically finds the legal citations in your word-processing documents and links them to the full text documents on Westlaw." This free program works with Word 97 and newer versions (as well as several versions of WordPerfect).
After you download and install the program on your computer, a (Auto-Mark Citations) icon will appear in your word processor toolbar. To use WestCiteLink:
You can even bypass the the sign-on page! Consult the User Manual for more information.
Word 2008 for Mac:
That's easy: it's done automatically.
That's trickier, but it can be done.
Suppose you have a lot of references to something you cited in footnote three ("See Ramasastry, supra note 3, at 7."), and you add a new footnote at the beginning so footnote three is now footnote four. It would be a nuisance to redo all the cross-references, right?
Here's what you do:
When you create the cross reference, type "See Ramasastry, supra note" and then ...
Word 2008 for Mac:
You can use Word’s built-in headings to make a mass of notes (or a long paper) easier to navigate.
Suppose you have a lot of notes:
You can change those regular-font headings to Word headings
In Word 2007,
In Word 2003,
Already your document is looking better. But there’s more!
Now move the cursor to the start of your document.
In Word 2007, References tab > Table of Contents
In Word 2003, choose Insert > Reference > Index and Tables … and then choose the Table of Contents tab.
In Word 2008 for Mac, Insert > Index and Tables … and then choose the Table of Contents tab.
Based on your headings, Word will produce something like this:
That Table of Contents is a little outline in itself. And each of those entries is a hyperlink, so you can go right to the section of your notes that you need.
Bulleted or numbered lists can help you organize your notes and thoughts. For example:
Or, if you prefer a more traditional outline:
To start a new line without a new bullet, press shift-return (instead of return).
The toolbars have icons for starting bulleted lists or outlines. And there are icons for decreasing or increasing the indents -- and hence changing the level of an outline.
Word also offers several keyboard shortcuts for working with lists.
To turn off Word’s automatic bullets and numbers, choose Tools > Autocorrect Options … > Autoformat tab. Then deselect Automatic Bulleted Lists.
Tables can help you organize your notes (and your thoughts). For example, if you are trying to review a quarter’s worth of cases, you might create a chart like this:
Word makes it easy to sort tables in different ways. For instance, by choosing Table > Sort you can sort by topic (and within topic, by year) or by case name.
Some useful options:
Microsoft Office Word, with help and tips for multiple versions (Word 2000, Word 2002, Word 2003 & Word 2007). Select your version and then search for "hyperlinks" OR browse the version-specific Help and How-to section for "Word and the Web," then look for the Hyperlinks heading.
Georgetown Law Information Systems Technology online tutorials for Word.
Purdue University Calumet, Office 2007 guides.
Are you aware of other good sites with word tips for the legal community? Send a suggested link to the reference librarians.