7 ways formatting documents by a specialist can help you

7 ways formatting documents by a specialist can help you

7 Ways formatting by a document specialist can help your business

Creating formatted documents needs a specialist: from brochure to proposal, order form to invoice, internal admin and client reports, to name just a few examples.  The document lifecycle is improved with smart formatting.  Here are 7 ways how a document specialist can help you.

Formatting fillable forms in your PDF

Collecting information from your customers is easier by using a PDF form.  PDF (portable document format) works on all of your recipients’ devices and so they don’t need to print/scan.  Unless you are collaborating on editing a document, you should always send a PDF.  Remember, not all of your recipients will have Word (or similar editor) installed on a phone, tablet or a PC.  A document specialist will reformat your text and convert to PDF and will then use Adobe Pro to create your fillable form.

Sending documents for e-signature

The natural progression from creating a fillable PDF is to ask for e-signatures.  There are many products that offer e-signature and many different features available.  Some things to consider:

  • Do you need a secure verification of the recipient signature?
  • Do you require a lot of signatures each month? If so, consider a product that offers some integration with your business systems.
  • How many people in your business are asking for signatures? Cost, training, integration with systems will have an impact on your decision on which product to choose.

Switching to e-signatures is easy and the benefits to you and your clients and customers is huge!

Formatting standard document precedents

Are you using the same documents over and over again?  Or are you copy and pasting similar paragraphs?  Creating a standard template document will save you tons of time and give you consistency and ease of use.  A professional suite of documents will not only make you look great but save you time.  A document specialist will always create a base template which takes into account your house style (your branding) and use styles so that formatting documents is quick and easy.

Automation of your numbering, cross references, table of contents: document specialist skills

Your documents should have easy-to-use automatic numbering, automatic cross references and tables of contents (where applicable).  All word-processing features are designed to save you time. If you’re collaborating with your documents – that is more than one person is involved in editing – then you should invest your time to make it easy for all parties involved.  A professional document specialist can fix your formatting for you.

Version control, track changes, document protection

HR documents, policy documents, operations manuals all have one thing in common.  They are strictly controlled and should contain version and editing notes.  A document specialist can ensure that your documents contain a version control cover sheet, the document is protected (read only often helps), and any changes can be shown in track changes.

Converting from PDF

Whilst some versions of a PDF document will allow a conversion to a Word document, it often doesn’t retain the word-processing formatting.  Having an editable text version of a document is one thing, making is easy-to-use is another.  The correct formatting is essential when converting PDF documents.  Without it, automatic numbering and cross refencing won’t work and inserting track changes and comments become difficult.  A professional document specialist can quickly convert and re-format your document so you have a usable version.

Comparing documents: not necessarily a document specialist role, but …

Did you know that you can compare two versions of a Word document and the result will show the differences in track changes?  It’s a useful feature used by many lawyers and there are plenty of Word training courses out there to learn how to do it yourself.  But if you don’t want to learn the skills then a document specialist will run the comparison for you and it takes just 10 minutes to do.

Quick and easy document formatting

The most common phrases in this article should be document specialist, document formatting, quick and easy.  Never struggle with a document because the chances are we can quickly fix it for you.  We operate on a pay-per-document basis so please get in touch if you would like a quote on a particular document.

For Format’s Sake!

For Format’s Sake!

For Format’s Sake!

For Format’s Sake! A Guide To Help Lawyers Produce Their Own Documents

Download your free e-book which should take no longer than an hour to read. To implement your new skills may take a couple of days and within a few weeks of practice you will be a competent Word user. You will be faster at creating and updating your documents and you will be presenting your business brand in documents to be proud of.

Whether you’re starting a business from scratch, or have worked in the same firm for years, the framework outlined in For Format’s Sake! will help you produce your documents with less stress.

 

For many, many years we have seen lawyers break their documents, waste time with formatting and cause more problems that could easily be avoided. And there’s good reason too. Not many people have received basic training (although some may consider the contents of this book advanced training).

Download your free e-book today! 

In this short book, we have provided you with some super-useful information to help you solve some of those problems you didn’t know how to fix, and perhaps given you some new ones to try out.

But we know time is limited – which is why the book is short – so all of them will save you time and money … and a lot of unnecessary frustration.

To get your free book For Format’s Sake!  A Guide For Lawyers Who Produce Their Own Documents fill in the form below and you will receive an email with a link to collect your download.

E-book For Format's Sake! 

 

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Dorigen Sykes
25. April, 2022.
Excellent service from Bluebird We have recently engaged Bluebird for a document production task. We found them easy to work with, transparent, efficient and friendly. Based upon our experience we would definitely recommend their service.
James G
21. April, 2022.
We used Bluebird for the first time to transcribe an audio meeting We used Bluebird for the first time to transcribe a lengthy professionals meeting - they were detailed, cost-effective, and could meet the quick turnaround required for these complex care proceedings. We would certainly recommend using Bluebird. - James G, works for a Local Authority.
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Catherine Lockett
21. January, 2022.
Your investment in Bluebird Support Services' time and expertise will pay you dividends... I highly recommend! I have been working with Leanne from Jayne’s team whilst she has re-formatted at least a dozen complex template documents for me so far, and there are more to do as well. My document nightmare has turned into an administration dream – gone are the tedious and time-consuming checks that I had to do. I can now do in a few minutes what would have taken me hours to do previously, with far more confidence in the end result for my clients. If you use templates or any legal documentation in your business, I can’t encourage you strongly enough to pass them by a member of Jayne’s team. Your relatively small investment in their time and expertise will definitely pay you dividends. I would highly recommend!
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27. August, 2021.
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24. February, 2021.
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9. December, 2020.
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Advanced Word Skills Training

Advanced Word Skills Training

Learn these top 3 Advanced Word Skills which are guaranteed to save lawyers time and produce Word documents easily, quickly, and without errors.

You may be spending a disproportionate amount of time on your Microsoft Word documents that you simply cannot charge for (or perhaps you can, and you are!). Fixing errors and formatting can be frustrating, especially if you’re working in other people’s documents. If that’s the case, you have little control over how the document is constructed and often they may not work as you would expect.

Many law firms are losing experienced support staff, more lawyers are working from home on their own, and many more seem to be setting up their own firm.

In this digital world now forced upon us by the pandemic, it is important that your continuing competence (CPD) includes a most frequently-used application – Microsoft Word. We feel it’s about time relevant Advanced Word Skills training is offered to help you. Why Advanced Word Skills are important to have

Advanced skills mean less time is spent on formatting and your drafting is faster. We’re often told that lawyers type and write as they think, and it’s important to get the first draft prepared quickly.

As you know, your documents will go through a number of iterations and versions, with changes made not only by you but by your opponents. Using best practice for your document construction (ie how a document is built up from the template) will also make your opponents’ life easier too.

And all of that will make you look great! After all, nobody likes poorly formatted documents.

Course Content: top 3 errors people make in documents and why they are bad!

In any training course you need to have some context so you can quickly learn and apply your new skills. In this module, we will demonstrate to you what happens when:

  • Show/Hide. Most people don’t use the Show/Hide button and some don’t even know it’s there. This button reveals formatting marks, such as tabs, spaces, paragraph marks, among others. It might sound unimportant, but these hidden marks are often why document formatting goes awry and large gaps are left on your page.
  • Pasting Incorrectly. It’s not just CTRL V. In fact most people are not aware that you cannot use CTRL V shortcut or even ALT CTRL V to paste text into a document correctly. Pasting Text Only is very important but sometimes even doing that will not give you the result you are looking for. It’s not how you paste, but where you paste.
  • Fixing Styles. When you get a wrong number, you don’t need to delete anything. You need to change the Style, and changing a Style is simply a matter of selecting the correct Style from the Style Gallery. In a good template, the gallery will be concise and clear what should be used to style your documents.

If this sounds too advanced, then fear not. The live demonstration and support will make everything clear.

Course Content: you will learn your top 3 fixes to make you look great

Now that you understand how frustrations and errors are caused, we’ll show you the right way to format your document. You won’t learn everything there is to know as Microsoft Word is a large and complex application. But you will have a great starting point on your journey of gaining Advanced Word Skills.

More importantly, the top 3 fixes we will give you are guaranteed to save you time in the future.

  • Turn on your Show/Hide Button – Lots of people will probably have worked on your document before you, and their skills may be lacking. Turning on the Show/Hide button reveals the formatting marks that have been put into the document and will reveal why there are unwanted gaps on your page. It also allows you to paste text so that you never get the wrong number on your paragraph.
  • Use a good template with Styles that work – The ground floor of a good Word document is a good template. If you are working on a document that is old, originated somewhere else or has not been created properly, the Style Gallery will be cluttered. This makes it impossible for you to know what Style to apply to get the number you want on your paragraph. If the template is a good template, you will be able to see what you should use and always produce accurate documents.
  • Follow best practice principles in Word – Word is like any other software package; you must follow its rules or you will not get the result you want. While there may be a lot of workarounds in Word which can seem helpful, they will usually end up breaking the document. Following best practice principles in Word – doing it properly from the outset and following Word’s rules – will mean your document is stable and error-free right to the end of your deal.

Your Q&A

We have set aside 15 minutes at the end of the session to answer your questions, but we are not going to restrict this time if there are lots of questions. You can feel free to leave but it may beneficial for you to hear other people’s questions and problems they have.

We are often asked about Track Changes, automatic cross-referencing and cover pages. It’s impossible to answer all questions in a short space but we can develop further courses once we have a good bank of questions from you.

Don’t miss out

Reserve your place now and will share the conference link with you in the joining instructions in good time.

Once registered you will have access to a recording of the training course.

What Our Customers Think

Like most lawyers, we are pretty self-sufficient when it comes to Microsoft Word, but we spotted an opportunity to develop our brand further and update our document assets. 

Bluebird have been dealing with our document processing for a while but I hadn’t realised that they could save us so much time when pulling together the simpler tasks in Word documents.  Leanne prepared a training session for the team and also created a video of the session and a handout for us to refer to.  While the team still send the more complex stuff to Bluebird to take care of, they can manage the more minor tasks in our documents, keeping them clean and free of formatting issues.  It has saved us hours of time that we would ordinarily write off, and the team is getting on with the chargeable work instead.

Winslows

People notice your poor document formatting

People notice your poor document formatting

Is poor formatting of documents a good thing or bad thing?

Have you ever heard a colleague make negative comments about the quality of another law firm’s legal document?  The number of typos or the misaligned paragraphs or inconsistent numbering or giant gaps on the page?  It’s frustrating because when you try and amend it, the paragraphs move around and the numbering seems to get more erratic.

That begs the question as to whether other lawyers are saying it about your documents.  And more importantly, whether clients are saying it … and how does that affect their confidence in your skills.  People notice your formatting, just like you notice other people’s.

Good lawyers train for years in how to be detailed, how to be precise.  They train how to advise clients on very specific areas of law in extremely high value transactions, where an error can cost millions.  So the detail is vital.

Is how you look meeting expectations?

Law is a competitive market, and expectations of the firm of its lawyers, and in turn the clients of the firm, are high.

Lawyers grow up using Word through school, university and law school and, when they join a law firm, they will generally be working in their own documents.  This is often because secretaries are working for a lot of people and there is a need for self-sufficiency.  I can be particularly stressful when a secretary has gone home or when there is a lot going on in the middle of a complex transaction.

Of course, this means that lawyers are expected to not only be great lawyers in providing quality service and valuable advice to clients but also be proficient in preparing and formatting complex documents in Microsoft Word.

Expectation is high among clients too.  And rightly so.  Clients pay substantial fees for their lawyers’ advice, and their expectation is that the work product itself should also be of high quality as well.

So if the document format isn’t up to par or if numbering and cross-references are incorrect, it shows a lack of attention to detail which affects a law firm’s reputation.  Indeed, incorrect clause numbers and “error” cross-references could materially affect the meaning of the agreement.

Creating your house style will ensure your teams are keeping to the rules of documents and keeping you on brand.

Poor document formatting and construction is costing time

When stress levels are high, the hour is late and a deadline is looming, the smallest things in a Word document can distract from the main task in a lawyer’s hands.  That is delivering accurate and detailed legal advice and a quality service to the client.

It could be gap on the page or that the words in a paragraph seem to have a life of their own.  Perhaps the sub-clause numbering insists on starting at (d) instead of (a), or there are a bunch of cross-references which now say “Error”.  Or the font keeps “flipping back” when you keep changing it from Arial to Calibri.  Some of these will no doubt resonate.

It stands to reason that lawyers could gain a great deal from knowing more about Microsoft Word – the software they are using all day every day.

  • Lawyers benefit from the confidence and ease with which they are managing their workload, particularly if they are managing their own documents.
  • Clients will not only get great legal advice, but a well-formatted and consistent work product that reflects the care that the lawyer has taken in giving that advice.
  • Law firm owners and managers will have less non-chargeable time to write off on transactions with capped fees.
  • Family and friends get more time because instead of being in the office at 7pm, the Word-savvy lawyer is having dinner with the family or is in the pub!

Training and learning for self-sufficiency

If all that sounds like a no-brainer, the even better news is that it is very easily achieved.

Training that focuses on the areas that cause the greatest number of issues is where the training should target.  Those made-up Word “hacks” that get passed around may well end up causing much bigger problems further down the line.  We have our very own training “hacks” and online learning courses to put you on the right path.

If you didn’t know it, there are literally hundreds of shortcuts and tricks that Microsoft has save lawyer time, while still using the software correctly.

Self-sufficiency is going to be key in the post-COVID era.  The self-sufficient lawyer is one who is confident, not stressed, earning fees and meeting targets, and always meets their deadlines … which brings very happy clients and law firm managers.

And that’s a scenario that will make everyone happy.

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.