WordPerfect Auto Numbering Made Even Easier!

Let’s break this up into three parts, shall we?

1. How to use a custom outline/auto paragraph numbering macro I may have written for you.
2. Tips for working with the WordPerfect auto numbering/outline feature.
3. Issues with using auto numbering when allowing MS Word users to edit your document.
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Part 1: Using Pragmatic Macros

To format any document with a custom auto numbering style using a WordPerfect macro written by me:

1. Place the cursor where you want the numbering to begin or at the top of the document. (I always put it at the top of the document so it’s easy to find later.)

2. Play the macro. Depending on your preferences, I’ve either given you a shortcut key (ALT+O) or placed a button on your toolbar which shows a I.A.1. descending top left to bottom right of the button. So either type your shortcut key or click your button. The screen will flash a few times and insert the first number at the location of the cursor. If you don’t need a number in that exact spot (like at the top of the doc), turn it off with “CTRL+H”

3. Once the macro has been played in a document and the document has been saved, the macro never needs to be run in that document again. (Unless you accidentally delete it – another reason I place it at the top of the document instead of placing it at the first numbered paragraph).
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Part 2: TIPS for Working with Auto Paragraph Numbering:

1. Toggle auto numbering on and off with the keystroke shortcut “CTRL+H”

2. To move forward one paragraph level, press “TAB” and to move back one paragraph level, press “SHIFT+TAB”

3. When inserting a new paragraph in a document containing auto numbering, place the cursor at the END of the PREVIOUS numbered paragraph and press ENTER. Use TAB or SHIFT+TAB to change the new paragraph to the desired level.

4. To insert a real TAB into a document when in auto paragraph mode, use “CTRL+TAB” instead of TAB.
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Part 3: Issues with MS Word

You may be better off using manual numbering when you know MS Word users will edit the document. A simple explanation: While auto paragraph numbering in WordPerfect is document specific (the numbering style is saved in the document), auto paragraph numbering in MS Word is desktop specific (the numbering style is saved in MS Word from desk to desk).

A not so simple (but still not too technical) explanation: Regardless of a whether a document was created/edited in MS Word or WordPerfect, auto numbering appears to the MS Word user in the preferred style saved in that particular installation of MS Word. In other words, it changes all by itself. In my experience, there are two situations when this doesn’t happen:

First, when only one person edits a document using MS Word, this isn’t a problem because the document adopts the single preferred style of that same person every time it’s edited.

Second, when MS Word custom templates and styles are created and used, this problem can be overcome, but many, many, many firms don’t use custom templates and/or styles. Even when templates are used, I’ve never seen a firm share their template with another firm. In addition, most people wouldn’t know how to attach a template even if it was given to them by another firm. So the changes continue.

Yet another reason to use WordPerfect for lengthy, complex documents.

Should your firm switch from WordPerfect to Word?

Be warned, if you want a yes or no answer, you won’t find any bobble heads here. Rather than say “Yes! Switch!” and ride the gravy train through your conversion, I’m going to suggest you take a step back and objectively think this through with me.

Let’s start with your goals. What are you trying to accomplish by converting to MS Word? What do you want/need to do that you can’t do now? Why can’t you do it? Are you having trouble with document formatting? Is it that you just don’t know how to successfully convert your documents from Word to WordPerfect and back? When is the last time you had computer training? What version of WordPerfect are you currently using? Do you need to upgrade your software to WP13?

(If you switched to MS Word, it wouldn’t be to Word 97, Word XP or Word 2002, so why expect an outdated version of WordPerfect to work “perfectly” with the newer versions of MS Word your clients may be using?)

Why does any “WordPerfect Firm” consider switching to Word? Time and time again, the reason has been the same: To allow clients to revise their documents and . . . “everybody uses Word.” If that’s your answer, I have two responses:

1. If you regularly update your software, you have always had the ability to successfully convert documents from Word to WordPerfect and back.

Even if you have an outdated version of WordPerfect, there is a “trick” you can employ. For more information, see my post entitled “Converting Between WordPerfect and Word

2. If you currently grant your clients the right to edit their own legal documents, consider a change in methodology to eliminate the risks associated with doing so, while eliminating extra work at the same time.

What do I mean by “a change in methodology?” Collaborate on document content instead of sharing editing rights. When I say that out loud, I’m often asked to explain the difference, so let me say it another way: Just because you collaborate on document content, doesn’t mean the document must be edited by all the collaborators. Doing so exposes you to risk.

(Risks? What risks? Sharing document revision with clients and outside attorneys puts law firms at risk. To better understand the risks, read my posts entitled, “Metadata, Shmetadata. It won’t happen to me.” and “Just because we can, doesn’t mean we should.”)

The following alternative should be considered:

If you are already a “WordPerfect Firm,” continue to harness the power of WordPerfect to create and edit complex legal documents. If you are a “Word Firm” continue to use Word (hopefully maximizing results with styles and templates). Incorporate the use of the latest Adobe Acrobat as outlined below. Provide documents to clients in MS Word format only when the client demands editing rights.

Offering the production of legal documents as a value added service will be much easier with new clients. Established clients will need to be convinced this upgrade in service will better protect their interests. The successful implementation of the following methodology is the best evidence.

Providing Documents to Clients: Since 2004, with the release of Adobe Acrobat 7 (and now v8), the FREE Adobe Reader provides on screen commenting, markup and text edits (if they are enabled by the sender of the document). The process is VERY easy for both the sender and the reviewer. The Adobe Reader even recognizes this comment enabled document and walks the reviewer through the process. Reviewing in Adobe Acrobat Reader allows for document collaboration, but it does not allow the reviewer to actually modify the original document. Revisions can then be done in house, protecting the integrity of the document content and eliminating that risk I mentioned before. For additional information, check out the link below. The “Collaboration” section in the Legal Professional White Paper is very compelling.

http://www.adobe.com/products/acrobat/solutions/legal

Receiving Documents from Clients: If you decide to accept revised documents in MS Word, simply upgrade the latest version of WordPerfect (v13, also called x3). Documents received in MS Word format can easily be opened with WPx3.

(Use the Microsoft Office Compatibility Pack to enable Word 2007 documents to be opened in previous versions of MS Word.)

Before dismissing all this and continuing to allow clients to edit their legal documents in MS Word, an understanding of the risks mentioned above and in the Adobe White Paper is critical. After gaining a full understanding of the risks, ask yourself, “Who is ultimately responsible for the content of the document?” Who will the client say is ultimately responsible? If, after considering the risks, a decision is made to continue to allow others to edit legal documents, converting them between MS Word and WordPerfect is seamless with WordPerfect x3.

My professional recommendation is for law firms to offer clients the value added service of legal document creation and production. (Remember when we used to do that?) Take back ownership of the editing process. Provide documents to clients for review only, in PDF format. Incorporate those changes in house – with whatever word processing software your firm currently uses.

Allowing others to edit documents for which your firm is ultimately responsible exposes you to risk. More and more, documents are being provided in PDF for review. Even the courts require documents be submitted PDF.

So before asking the question “Should our firm switch from WordPerfect to Word?” ask the question, “Should our firm provide documents to clients in PDF for review and comment only, maintaining editing rights to guarantee the integrity of our documents and eliminate our risk?” I know it’s a long question, but you’re attorneys, you can handle it.

Where’s that bobble head when you need it?

Just because we can, doesn’t mean we should.

The fastest increasing quantity on this planet is the amount of information we are generating. It is (and has been) expanding faster than anything else we create or can measure over the scale of decades. Information moves faster too. Sometimes instantaneously. In our struggle to keep up, we sometimes adopt new technology without considering the unintended consequences.

So are you ready to click away from here, thinking, “What is she talking about?”

I’m talking about the technology driven methodology we’ve adopted to create and revise legal documents. Providing clients with the ability to edit their own legal documents seemed harmless in the beginning. In the beginning, we talked to the client about every single change. We still proofed our documents, revision by revision. Some of us used boxes of red felt tip markers to check off each completed revision. We didn’t worry about the content of the documents because we always read them when they came back to us.

Then we discovered metadata. We discovered our clients computing skills were . . . different than ours. Rather than discuss every single revision, we spent time comparing the content of the returned document with our version of it. Then we spent additional time cleaning up the format of those returned documents. When we did read an entire document, we sometimes discovered the content wasn’t “right.” If only word processing software came with a “content” checker along with a spell and grammar checker.

Some firms have tackled the problems head on. They’ve researched and implemented proactive solutions, whether they be software purchases and upgrades, staff training, methodology changes, or a combination of the three. Good for you!

Many firms have dismissed the risks and continue to allow clients to edit their own documents without implementing procedures to effectively and safely manage the process. Not so good for you.

How Did This Happen? The impetus for change was that the client wanted editing rights to their own legal documents. Feeling the pressure from clients to adopt MS Word as a primary word processor, many law firms converted. Other firms adopted a “dual platform environment” whereby they continued to harness the power of WordPerfect to edit their documents and converted them to Word when sending them to clients.

With more recent advancements in technology, the issue isn’t whether your firm uses Word or WordPerfect. What matters is that you protect yourself, your client’s interests and the integrity of the documents for which you are responsible. Admittedly, you have choices as to how that can be done.

Option 1. You can continue to allow clients to edit their own documents. But because you have no control over the document while it is out of your possession, you should strongly consider having a revision by revision dialog with them, always reading (not just proofing revisions) those documents. Purchase metadata cleaning software, train all your employees to use it correctly and mandate that each and every document be cleaned each and every time it is sent out electronically. Decide whether the time spent managing metadata is billable and if so, track it and bill it.

Option 2. (Here she goes again.) Offer your clients the value added service of legal document production by providing documents in PDF for review. By employing the (very slick) reviewing features of Adobe Acrobat’s latest FREE reader, they mark up the document, indicating revisions, additions, deletions, and comments. They return the marked up PDF document to you and the original document is revised in house by you and/or your staff as you confirm each edit. No more cleaning up the formatting. Just edit content. Bill for legal services, not for format cleanup and metadata management.

Metadata, Shmetadata. "It won’t happen to me."

What is Metadata and why do you care?

Simply? Metadata is information about information. In Microsoft Word documents, it includes information about how and when a document was edited as well as the edits themselves. The edits themselves? Yes.

As you create and revise documents, your edits (document revisions, document versions, hidden text, comments, file property and summary information, non-visible portions of embedded objects) are saved, along with information about you (your name, initials, firm name, the names of previous document authors, the name of your computer, network server name, template information).

Why? Metadata isn’t a mistake or a recently discovered computer “bug.” It’s included in Microsoft Word by design. Computer programmers work in a collaborative environment and they need to document changes to program code. Metadata allows programmers to “see” who developed the code, when those developments occurred, and how those developments are manifested in the application. Unfortunately, programmers don’t practice law, so while Metadata makes logical sense from a programmer’s view of the world, it doesn’t work well in the rigorous, document-centric world of law firms.

For law firms, a big reveal comes with the use of the Track Changes feature. If Track Changes are used, but not accepted, all tracked changes are saved with the document. (Switching the display view from “Final Showing Markup” to “Final” isn’t the same as accepting the changes.) And even if the software is used correctly, look what I found:

Excerpt from the Microsoft Word Legal Users Guide
for Word 97 and Word XP (2000) (LOTS of people are still using Word XP)
Microsoft’s warning regarding the use of its Compare Documents Feature

“IMPORTANT NOTE: Microsoft recommends that most law firms use a third party solution for document comparison, such as Lexis-Nexis’ CompareRite, or Workshare’s Deltaview. See the chapter on third party solutions for more information about these products. Microsoft Word’s compare documents features works on relatively simple documents that do not contain too much complex formatting. Because of the complex nature of most legal documents, Word’s compare documents feature does not produce as good a result as the third party products mentioned above. Microsoft is currently working to address this shortcoming, but in the meantime the third party solutions are recommended.” (emphasis added)

“As good as a result.”

What does that mean? In my experience, it means that when you accept changes, maybe it will. Maybe it won’t. You need to proofread the document to be sure your intended changes actually appear before you send it to anyone for review. But here’s the kicker. Others who revise the document must do the same. Will they? What version of MS Word are they using?

Follow me here:
A document leaves your office. It is edited by your client using the track changes feature. The client “accepts” the changes in the document. One (or more) of the changes they made to the document isn’t accepted and doesn’t appear. Assuming the software performed as requested, the client doesn’t proofread the document before he/she sends it back to you. You get the document and run a “compare” on it. The revised language wasn’t there when the document left you. It isn’t there when you get it back. Comparing the documents will not pick this up. Who is responsible for the missing or (UN)revised language?

Who will the client say is responsible?

The answer? Offer the client the value added service of legal document creation and revision. Furnish the client with the document in PFD for review. Accept all document revisions via a separate document or within the content of an email. Protect yourself, your client and the integrity of the document. Eliminate your risk.