5 tools in Word that make amending documents more efficient

5 tools in Word that make amending documents more efficient

Document lifecycle

Transactional documents can have a very long lifecycle.  The course of a transaction can run for many months, be comprised of many different parties and their legal representatives, while the Word documents themselves are automated and complex.

And with so many parties involved in the drafting process, each of whom use different systems, numbering styles and editing tools, it is inevitable that compatibility issues will arise.

Travelling drafts can be tricky to maintain control of, whether or not your firm is “holding the pen”.  You might send out a perfectly formatted and styled document but when it comes back, it contains different numbering and styles, and the document itself may even have become corrupted.

Of course, it will often be you who is tasked with adding changes to another party’s document, involving moving, inserting and deleting large sections of text into a format you’re not familiar with.  It is then necessary to show to your own team and to other parties, the changes made to the earlier version.

Amending documents correctly in Microsoft Word requires learning and using some simple techniques and Best Practice principles to ensure that documents are kept in a stable and accurate condition.

It all starts with pasting

As lawyers will no doubt know, even when adopting safe pasting practices like using “Keep Text Only”, the text doesn’t always appear in the format you expect. 

The reason for this that few realise is that it’s not just about how you paste – and Keep Text Only is definitely the right way to go – but where you paste. If your cursor point is on an empty paragraph mark that does not have the right style applied to it, your insert may still go wrong.

The good news is that this is not difficult to fix if you use the correct technique and follow Word’s rules or – better still – if you learn how to insert the text correctly in the first place.

There are various tools available to assist with document amendments, some of which are more well-known than others.

For lawyers who want to make changes quickly and correctly, the following five tools will become second nature:

  • Format Painter allows you to fix the incorrect formatting of a paragraph by applying the format of a correct paragraph elsewhere in your document.
  • Paste using Keep Text Only is correct but you should always paste into a blank paragraph that has the correct style applied.
  • Clipboard can store pieces of text to insert later.  You can take a piece of text from one document, put it on the Clipboard and insert it later into another document.
  • Ctrl Shift E is a shortcut to toggle Track Changes on and off if you are making live amendments, while the Status Bar will give you a visual cue that Track Changes are turned on.
  • Use Compare Documents in the Review tab for making changes into a clean document, and showing what changes have been made.

Learn to do it the right way

Novum Learning, professional services solutions provider, and Microsoft Word services specialist Bluebird are running a series of complimentary courses designed for lawyers about legal document best practice.

The series allows practitioners to learn in a focused, industry-specific manner and to put the learnings into practice straight away.

The 30-minute sessions focus on showing lawyers how to make amendments to transactional documents correctly and efficiently, even when the document belongs to another party. The first session of the course covered crucial formatting techniques and shortcuts, which are a great foundation for this coming session. It shows lawyers that managing ongoing transactional documents under a tight deadline can be done efficiently.

The skills from this course will take lawyers another step closer to self-sufficiency, which is becoming an expectation at law firms, especially those looking at continuing to offer flexible working arrangements even when working in the office becomes a usual practice again. Nevertheless, efficient document management is key to shortening the turnaround of matters and reduces the time lawyers spend on non-billable work.

Bundling As A Service

Bundling As A Service

Not many businesses want to (or are able to) invest in new software to further digitise their business. 

That said, some spending is necessary to get the job done, particularly when a court or tribunal is requesting electronic bundles of documents.

Here’s the thing: electronic bundling is easy, it’s fast and it can also save you tons of time and money when compared to the traditional paper version.

Our bundling partner, Zylpha, have given us some key requirements that courts and tribunals need.

  • The documents in the bundle must be the subject of OCR (optical character recognition). That means the bundle can be searched by typing in a key word or phrase.
  • All documents should appear in portrait mode. If the original is in landscape then it should be inserted so that it can be read with a 90 degree rotation clockwise and no document should be inserted upside down.
  • The default view for all pages should be 100%.
  • All items should be bookmarked to be easily navigable in the index.
  • All pages should be numbered, including the index.

This list is not exhaustive but I’ve pointed out these top requirements for a simple reason.  To create a bundle without any software assistance is difficult and time consuming, especially if your bundle needs to be updated and edited at a later date.

Why am I writing about this now?

Our clients come to us because they need admin support in their business and some have always kept a certain amount of work to be done ‘in the office’. It may have been too difficult to send out and have produced remotely.  Or, it could be the case that they rely so much on admin support and don’t have time to learn new software.

Whatever the case, I want to deliver some good news.  You can prepare your bundle yourself for as little as £45 per bundle.  If you decide that you need some secretarial support with that, we can help too.

Simply dictate your requirements and send your documents to us and we can prepare your bundle for you.  The cost of the bundle will be £45 plus our time (charged at our standard rate) to collate the bundle.