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Microsoft Word Fundamentals for Efficient Lawyers and Law Students

This guide provides tips and links to tutorials for key tasks in Word that lawyers and law students undertake daily.

Headings Created with Styles

Problem: You’ve finished drafting your document, but you’ve decided that you want to bold your headings, which can be a long and tedious process.  However, the bigger problem is that you’ve never heard of Styles, so you aren’t even aware that most problems you have with your document’s formatting could be resolved quickly and easily by using Styles.

Solution: Use the Heading Styles to format the text you consider headings.  You can find Styles on the Home tab, on the left side of the screen.  Once you have designated particular text as a heading, all you need to do is modify the style—for example, to bold all headings—and Word will automatically apply that modification to all of the headings.

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Pro Tip: Styles is a real game changer for how you create complex documents. Creating headings using Styles is a good toe-dip into learning Styles.  And once you have Styles-designated headings in place, you can easily create a table of contents for your document (learn more about that process here).  However, there’s more to Styles than just headings, and you will need to spend some more time understanding Styles before you can effectively use Styles to fully optimize your document. The wonderful law librarians at Chicago-Kent College of Law have put together detailed tutorials, including videos, of how to use Styles, and they even provide documents upon which you can practice your new Styles skills.

Adding Different Page Numbers or Number Formats to Different Sections of the Document

Problem: My document includes different sections, and those sections need to be numbered differently. 

Solution: In the Layout tab, use the Breaks button to insert section breaks at the beginning of each of your sections. Then click into your document’s header or footer, which will cause a Header and Footer Design tab to appear.  From that tab, you can link your sections and format your page numbers as you wish. 

TutorialAdd Different Page Numbers or Number Formats to Different Sections

Internal Cross-References

Problem: My document references other parts of the same document.  Although I provide a clear reference that allows the reader to flip or scroll to that section, I’d like to make this process easier for the reader by creating a link that will take the reader directly to the referenced location.  

Solution: From the Insert tab, insert cross-reference links.


Tutorial: Create or Update a Cross-Reference

Pro Tip: Cross-references operate the same way as hyperlinks, which you can also use to link parts of your document. Thus, you could just as easily use a hyperlink rather than a cross-reference.  However, if changes to your document could affect your references to other parts of your document, then you should use cross-references rather than hyperlinks because you can easily update cross-references to account for your changes.  Learn more about hyperlinks here.

Creating a Table of Contents

Problem: You want to provide your reader with a table of contents so that the reader can better navigate to particular parts of your document.  However, manually creating a table of contents is tedious, time consuming, and difficult to format.

Solution: Use Styles to create a Table of Contents automatically.

Explanation: Once you have Styles-designated headings and subheadings, creating a Table of Contents is a snap.  Importantly, when your document changes, you can easily update the Table of Contents to reflect those changes.


Tutorial: Insert a Table of Contents (includes a video and a downloadable step-by-step guide)

Learn more about updating a Table of Contents here.

Updating Fields, Including Cross-References, Tables of Contents, and Formulas

Problem: You’ve added a new Section I.B to your document, which changes the numbering for all of the subsections that follow.  Additionally, your cross-references for former Section I.C need to be changed to Section I.D.  Additionally, you will need to update your Table of Contents.  Locating the places in your document that need to be changed and then changing them all will be tedious and time consuming.

Solution: Right click within your document and select Update Field.  

Explanation: Luckily, you’ve learned how to use the Word features that allow Word to generate Tables of Contents, cross-references, formulas, and other steps that use “fields.”  Fields are hidden codes that Word uses to perform particular tasks within your document or to generate data. When you change information within your document that could result in changes to features you’ve included that rely on fields, like a Table of Contents or cross-references, you can easily update those fields to reflect your changes.

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Tutorial: Update Fields

Hyperlinking to Other Parts of Your Document or to Web Pages

Problem: You want your reader to access to a webpage directly from your document. 

Solution: Rather than making the reader copy a web address from your document and paste it into a browser, create a link between your document and the webpage that will that will allow the reader to jump from your document directly to the webpage.  Simply type or paste the web address and press the enter key. 

Alternatively, you can embed the web address so that it is not visible, just like the Tutorials are embedded in this Guide. The easiest way to embed a web address is to open the website in your browser and copy the web address. Then return to your Word document. Highlight the text in which you'd like to embed the link and click on Link (Windows) or Hyperlink (Mac) within the Insert tab (you can also right click and select Link from the menu that appears). Your copied web address should be the first entry on the dropdown; click on it. 



Hyperlink Removal

Problem: Word has automatically created a hyperlink for the web address that you typed into your document, and you don’t want your document into include that hyperlink.

Solution: Easy come, easy go. Remove the hyperlink by right clicking on the hyperlink and selecting remove hyperlink. For Word for Mac, you have one extra step: after you right click, select hyperlink, and from there select remove. 


AutoCorrect Options for Inserting Symbols, Capitalization, and Spelling

Problem: You consistently mistype “analysis” as “anlaysis,” a word you type often.  

Solution: Use AutoCorrect to automatically change “anlaysis” to “analysis.”

Explanation: The AutoCorrect feature will automatically correct text in many situations.  First, it will detect and correct misspelled words and typos.  Word has preprogrammed AutoCorrect to correct a long list of commonly misspelled words and typos, but you can add others to that list.  Second, AutoCorrect will quickly insert symbols.  For example, (c) automatically corrects to ©. You can add symbols to Word’s preprogrammed list. For example, you could type (s) to correct to §. Third, AutoCorrect will replace abbreviations with longer text.  For example, you can set up AutoCorrect to change “nied” to “negligent infliction of emotional distress.”


TutorialAdd or Remove AutoCorrect Entries in Word