Fonts and Microsoft Word

Because I like computers and associated technology, I have been accused by many people of being a nerd. The thing I find ironic about this is that these people have no idea. Yes, I enjoy using computers, however, if you really want to get my nerd juices flowing, draw me in to a conversation about grammar or typography. (Before you ask, yes my wife rolls her eyes at me when I start talking things like fonts or the subjunctive case mood).

Anyway, I was thrilled to see a recent post titled: Nerdlaw: Thou shalt not defile thy briefs with Microsoft’s default settings.

In this post the author points out the importance of font choice and document design in preparing a brief. Yes, it not just the words you put on the page. How they look when they get there does make a difference. The author has left us a cliffhanger in that he has not yet told us what settings he thinks are appropriate. However, he promises to do so in a future post.

I am waiting for those posts with bated breath.

In the meantime, I urge everyone who drafts briefs to read Painting with Print . . . , which is made available by the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals. (Note that the link opens a PDF). This article can be one of the best things that you read about persuasive writing.

I am not telling you that you can win an bad argument by having a good looking brief. However, I will tell you that a poorly-presented brief can detract from your argument and that a well-presented brief will add to your argument. the last time that I checked, I want every advantage that I can get while representing my client.

More Word Tips

John Heckman has recently gathered together some links to site with tips on how to use Microsoft Word more effectively. These include a link to 221 MS Word Keyboard Shortcuts. I cannot stress how advantageous using keyboard shortcuts can be for you. Not only does it allow you to increase your typing speed (because your fingers do not leave the keyboard), but it also keeps you from using the mouse (most people do not have an ergonomically friendly mouse).

The comments also contain a link to CompuSavvy’s Word & WordPerfect Tips, which contains a variety of tips to help with problems in both Word and WordPerfect.

The important thing to remember is that if you are having problems with Word, don’t bash your head against the desk. Chances are that there is someone who has encountered the same problem that you have and has posted a solution to that problem. Checking sites such as these as well as doing a little google research will often allow your to ferret out the answer to your problem.

A FAQ for Microsoft Word

Often people do not use Word correctly because they do not understand how the program works. If people knew how the program worked, I believe that more people would use the myriad of features found in Word.

For those who are interested in learning some of those tricks, I have found a great resource posted by Charles Kenyon. The page includes a tutorial, downloads, helpful links, and a host of other aids.

The resources on this page are invaluable and I urge you to check them out.

Formatting With Style

Few things drive me more crazy than trying to work on a document that someone else has created. This is because very few people understand how to use styles in Microsoft Word and instead try to format everything using the formatting buttons on their formatting toolbar.

I am glad to see that I am not the only person disturbed by this problem. Writing, Clear and Simple, addressed this problem head-on recently. The author explained the problem as follows:

I frequently collaborate on projects with several different people, exchanging documents to review and revise. And all too often, I see documents where all of the formatting—bold, italic, font, type size, and so on— has been set manually. That’s the hard way to do it. It’s like having a woodworking shop full of expensive equipment at your disposal, but building a cabinet using only a hatchet.

He could not be more right. I see people do this all of the time. The main cause of this problem, in my opinion, is a lack of training. People don’t know they are supposed to use styles instead of the formatting tools on the formatting bar. Besides, those tools on the formatting bar are so convenient.

In his post, Roy points you toward some resources for learning how to use and modify styles. Additionally, I have written a series of posts on the issue as well.

Some of you may be wondering why this is so important. Or, as I am often asked, “What’s the big deal?”

The answer is simple and Roy nails is perfectly:

You should be focusing your attention on the content, on making sure the words say what you want them to say, and here you are, fiddling with the cosmetics, wasting precious time making the document look pretty.

Once you spend a little time putting your styles together, you never have to worry about formatting again. You simply apply the approriate style and go on. You can concentrate on the writing without having to worry about whether the document will look good.

Microsoft Word Tips for Jury Instructions

I just saw a great tip from Carol’s Corner Office Blog about printing jury instructions. One of the problems with preparing jury instructions is that you need a copy for you, opposing counsel, and the judge with citations on them. You also need jury instructions for the jury without these citations. Of course you can make one set, print them, delete the citation information, and then print them. It always seems, however, that something gets screwed up in this process.

Carol has a great suggestion that I have never heard before. She explains:

  1. Create your Jury Instructions for the judge, complete with citations.
  2. Now select the citations at the bottom of the page.
  3. Click on Format | Font.
  4. Under Effects, select Hidden, which will hide the citation text.
  5. When you are ready to print the judge’s Jury Instructions, click on File | Print or use the shortcut CTRL + P.
  6. From the Print menu, click the Options button.
  7. From the Print dialog box, select Hidden Text under Include with Document.
  8. Click OK two times to close the dialog box and print the document with cites.

I think this is a great tip that I am definately adding to my knowledge base. I just wish I had this tip a few weeks ago when I was preparing jury instructions.

Is Anyone Else Having Problems Using Cambria with HP LaserJet 5

Quite a while ago I made the switch to using Cambria as my default text font in my word processor. I really like the looks of it and I think that it looks good and is easier to read on both the screen and paper. Recently, however, I have been having problems printing from Word 2007 to my HP LaserJet 5 while using Cambria. When doing so, I end up with a document that looks like:

Sample Printed Cambria

As you might expect, this is quite annoying. My initial thought was that it might be a problem with the font itself. Maybe it became corrupted. However, the same document print to my two Lexmark printers at home just fine. If I change the font from Cambria to something else (I have tried both Calibri and Times New Roman) everything prints just fine.

Does anyone have any thoughts or suggestions? I am stumped.

Another Word Tip

One question I often get from others who are frustrated with Word deals with how to fix the formatting in a particular document. Often the formatting screw ups occur because someone was not properly using styles. Somethimes, however, the formatting is screwed up because the document is imported from aonther format or because someone pasted text without using the Paste Special function.

The best way to deal with this formatting problem is to take the formatting back to square one. You can easily do this simply by selecting the text and then pressing Ctrl + Enter. This converts the formatting for the selected text to the Normal style. Once it is there, you can then reformat the document as appropriate.

Your Keyboard Has a Tab Key for a Reason

I am a big fan of using styles in Word. If you understand and use them, Word becomes very powerful and, I think, more easy to use.

I understand, however, that not everyone uses or understands styles. I believe that the proper solution to this is good training. However, not everyone understands that. However, I implore everyone, whether you understand sytles or not; whether you use Word, WordPerfect, or OpenOffice; or whether you know how to type or not, DO NOT USE YOUR SPACEBAR FOR SPACING.

The space bar is to allow you to put a space between words and sentences (on a related note, please observe that with today’s proportional fonts you need only one space, not two, between sentences). The space bar is not to be used to add spaces to make your text line up. To do this, you use the Tab key.

Given the fact that Tab keys have been around for quite some time, I had thought that most people understood this. However, that is clearly not the case. I recently received a draft settlement agreement today from another attorney. When I started making some modifications to the document, I noticed that the formatting got all screwed up.

Once I clicked the paragraph button, I realized what the problem was. Instead of using tabs, the author has used spaces to create the illusion of tabs. Upon counting, it appears that it takes 12 taps of the space bar to simulate a 1/2″ tab stop.

I understand that some people don’t want to learn how to properly use software. That is your choice. If you make that choice, however, then hire someone to do your word processing for you. Please!!!!

Another Office 2007 Conversion Solution

A couple of days ago I wrote about the fact that many people still use Office 2003 and are unable to read documents created in Office 2007. The solution that I suggested was that if you are using Office 2003, you should download the compatability pack that allows you to read Office 2007 documents.

Of course, not everyone will download the compatability pack. Tom Mighell, of Inter Alia, has a different solution. He suggests using Scribed.

Tom explains:

Here’s how it works. Take your document and attach it to an email. Address it to the members of your team, and CC on the message. Scribd will take your document, convert it to iPaper, and send your collaborators a copy of the link to the online document. And if you haven’t viewed a document in Scribd yet, you’re missing out. Scribd supports a lot of document formats, too — in addition to all Office files (both 2003 and 2007), it will convert PDF, PS, .TXT, .RTF, and open document formats.

The great thing about Tom’s solution is that you are simply adding an additional email address to your message. You do not have to take the time to manually upload the file a to a service such as Scribed or Google Docs.

As always, when using a service such as this, you must be cognizant of their terms of use to make sure that you are not disclosing confidential information to third parties. However, this is a great simple solution for sharing documents with others without worrying about what software program your recipient is using.

MS Office 2007 Compatibility

When I got my new computer recently, it came with Office 2007. It took me a while to get used to 2007. The reality is that I was perfectly happy with Office 2003 and I felt no overwhelming reason to change. Since getting Office 2007, I have realized that many other share my opinion in this. It seems that relatively few people have moved to Office 2007.

The problem is that Microsoft changed the file format in Office 2007, and users of Office 2003 cannot read files created in Office 2007. Fortunately, there is an easy and free fix for this. Unfortunately, it seems as though very few people know about this fix.

Simply go here and download the compatibility pack. After you install this, you will be able to work with Office 2007, even though you still use only Office 2003.