Keep Text Together on the Same Line

Ever type a date and have the year wrap to the next line? July 4,
2005.

What about typing a series of numbers and spaces, only to have the text word wrap – separating the numbers and making them difficult to read at a glance?

And what about the name of a person or company? How do you prevent a person’s middle initial from wrapping to the next line? How do you force the “Inc.” to STAY with the company name?

Instead of pressing the space bar, try inserting a “Hard Space” to connect the letters or words.

In WordPerfect, a hard space is inserted at the cursor location by pressing [CTRL+Spacebar].

In Microsoft Word, a hard space, also called a non-breaking space, is inserted at the cursor location by pressing [CTRL+SHIFT+Spacebar]

In WordPerfect, when you reveal the codes, you will see a rectangle with the letters “HSpace” inside. A HSpace code keeps the text together. Use it anytime you need to keep words or letters together on the same line. It’s like typing a hidden character which tricks the computer into thinking two words are really one.

In Word, when you turn on paragraph symbols, the non-breaking space will display as a small circle.

But PLEASE. Don’t use hard/non-breaking spaces to replace tabs.

If you promise not to use hard spaces instead of tabs, I promise to provide information on tabs and how to set them.

Is Outlook Filling In the Wrong Email Addressess?

You begin typing an email address and Outlook automatically fills it in for you.
You think, cool. How did it know that?

This handy feature is called AutoComplete (also referred to as the cache).

Outlook stores the email addresses to which you’ve sent email before. You may have typed the address in manually or you may have used the “Reply” button to send an email. Either way, Outlook remembers. Very nice.

Except:
when it remembers incorrect or invalid email addresses
when it fills in email addresses you don’t use anymore
when you want to send to an alternate email address for a particular contact.

You can’t stop Outlook from saving to the cache unless you completely turn it off or max it out (1,000 entries). Luckily, turning off the cache isn’t necessary if you know how to delete the unwanted entries.

1. Start a new email message and type the first few letters of the name you want to delete.
2. Outlook will display the list of matching entries,
3. Press the down arrow (no clicking!) to the entry you want to remove.
4. Press the Delete key on the keyboard.

Follow the same instructions to delete all your unwanted cache entries!

automatically generate placeholder text in Microsoft Word.

When I provide computer training, I often need fake documents to work with. Most of the time, I will have a trainee type a single sentence and then have them copy and paste it over and over again to create a paragraph. Then I’ll have them copy their little paragraph and paste it over and over again to create a multi-paragraph, multi-page document. It provides some keyboard text selection and cut/copy/paste shortcut key practice and we end up with a safe document to work with during training.

But if you’re using Microsoft Word, there is another way to build a fake document. MS Word can generate random text automatically. Try this:

In MS Word 2003 or earlier, at the beginning of a line, type:

=rand()

Press enter.

The sentence “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog” (which contains every letter of the English alphabet) appears multiple times, forming three paragraphs of five sentences each.

cool.

You can also specify the number of paragraphs and sentences by typing numbers between the parenthesis, like this:

=rand(8,5)

Typing the formula in as it appears above will generate 8 paragraphs of 5 sentences each.

Handy for computer trainers like me and for printers who need sample text. If you can think of other uses for randomly generated text, comment and share!

CLICK HERE for an UPDATE of this feature for Word 2007 & 2010!!

This will not work if:
“Replace text as you type” has been disabled under Tools, AutoCorrect.
If the insertion point immediately follows a page or a column break.

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.

I won’t tell you what to do.

I mentioned before that some clients like things simple. Simple is good.

However, when clients are motivated to learn more, I work with them to define solutions for their needs which are at a technological level they are comfortable with. Then I train and empower them so they can be self-sufficient.

So, regardless of an individual’s technical aptitude, I believe the best way to provide tools the user will benefit from is to watch their work process and learn about the documents they need to produce. Asking someone what they want to learn about software – when they don’t know the software – is a waste of time and money.

I ask clients what they need to accomplish, what documents they need to produce, and what materials they already have. Then I help them achieve their goals more quickly and easily, taking into account their resources, work habits and needs, not just the features of the software and/or the capabilities of the computer support personnel (or consultants).

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.

If a client doesn’t need me anymore, I’ve done a good job.

Don’t get me wrong – I like my clients, but I don’t need to see (or talk to) them everyday. I don’t keep any secrets in an effort to make clients need me. My goal is that they maintain the software tools I’ve created or set up for them – all on their own.

So, for those who prefer to keep things simple, I operate by this rule:

“The best, most efficient, advanced methods are worth nothing if the people who are supposed to use them – don’t.”

Creating technological solutions for document production which are beyond the capabilities of the user and staff requires constant computer support. Many firm’s computer support staff are already overloaded taking care of their network, time and billing software, firm internet services and other highly technical and time consuming projects. My goal is to help staff and attorneys use their computers more efficiently, without the need for frequent troubleshooting.