Some traditional standards apply to legal documents, and if you follow these formatting standards, you can be sure that your document is formatted correctly. Instead of using the standard letter size, use legal-sized paper. Each country has its own legal standard paper size, but most North American countries follow the standards of the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). The font seems to be the simplest part of the entire document. But police can sometimes speak louder than words. The style bar in MS Word saves you formatting time because you don`t have to set up the formatting manually, but you can apply the specific style with just one click. Simply select the area you want to format and click on the desired style. There are more than 50 different styles, but you can also customize the chosen style according to your needs. Being part of the legal industry means having a rich vocabulary and using legal terms on a daily basis.
It also involves dealing with a lot of paperwork and various legal agreements, notices, power of attorney documents, etc. While every lawyer knows how to create a legal document in MS Word, there are a few additional MS Word tips that can help you improve the readability of legal documents and establish uniform formatting standards in your legal environment. Now that we`ve discussed the evils of unwanted styles, let`s see how you can add useful and attractive styles to your document. Instead of making this section abstract and generalized, I`ll show you how I set up my legal documents. You now have a clean slate in terms of document formatting. The formatting gremlins will be gone. They were removed by pasting them into Notepad, which does not recognize formatting. By the way, this brings me to another tip: how to use styles for quick and consistent formatting in your legal documents. No one has ever said that Microsoft Word is the best word processing software, but I think we can all agree that Word has won the war against its competitors. Aside from a few stubborn refuseniks, no one uses Word Perfect anymore, and Google Docs simply doesn`t have the features for serious formatting of legal documents (yet).
Whether you think Word is a great tool or a necessary evil, you need to know Word to practice law. (At the very least, you`ll enjoy your life as a lawyer more if you`re familiar with the software you use for your job.) I also created a Microsoft Word template for lawyers, which you can download here: Software like this also makes it easy to fix formatting issues and add standard sections without affecting your formatting. This is where great documentation software can save the day. Here`s how you should format some of the most common legal documents and how documentation software can make sure you`re doing it right. The problem, of course, is that this Frankenstein method can create a monster from a document by tinkering with incompatible formatting and parts of the language that don`t match the new document. One column is the default column, but legal documents sometimes require two columns. The width and spacing are arbitrary, and for additional formatting, be sure to clear the Equal column width check box. To switch between columns, insert a column break. We`ve already mentioned that formatting specifications can sometimes vary depending on the document you`re preparing.
When you open the dialog box, select the categories that you want to include in the authorities table. Also, select the format from the Formats drop-down menu. This type of table cannot be easily edited and it is recommended to delete it and start over if you are not satisfied with the formatting. Some law firms have their own specific formatting settings and there may be times when no style element matches the preferred settings. In this case, you can create your own style to meet the needs of your law firm. Styles save a lot of time and are a quick way to apply important formatting changes to your entire document. Instead of using the Format Paint button to edit each heading individually, you can use preset styles to make formatting changes to your document with just a few clicks. This means that finally, all the text in section 1, heading 2 is consistent and only a few clicks of a button are necessary. If you`re not using Microsoft Word (or trying to create your own), set the margins manually. As a general rule, the top margin should be two inches and the bottom margin one inch. Most legal documents use a spacing of 1.5 or double.
There are a few other tricks you can do to make your Word documents work better for legal documents, such as hanging indents for certain titles and block quote styles. I highly recommend exploring these features when you start creating your own templates. In the meantime, here`s a link to download the document I created while writing this article. Do not hesitate to optimize it and make it your own. Remember that even a good document with too many bad edits can become a bad document. Don`t trust a document to work: Document formatting relies on the compiled effect of many different formatting decisions. For formatting, see Your Old Friend again, Rule 33.1. According to this rule, briefings in Century family fonts must be set in 12-point font, with 2 or more dots between the lines. If you have footnotes, put them in 10-point font.
In almost every role in a law firm, you create multiple documents for clients, files, and financial purposes. Each type of document often requires the same format with headings, logos, fonts, spacing, etc. Your team does a lot of work in a single day and you generate a lot of documents. These documents each have their own unique content, which means they all have their own formatting guidelines. If you`re using an enterprise-wide template, you`ve probably already set up predefined styles in your legal document. If so, you can first select the article you want to format, such as applying an existing title and style from the Quick Styles gallery. Watch our video to learn where to find styles in Word and how to apply them. To update styles quickly, I have a little trick. I select all the text, and then apply basic formatting: black text, the same font as the normal style, and a uniform size and weight (usually bold for titles). Sometimes I`ll also change the indentation, but you don`t have to. Once you know the basic formatting rules, you can go through the legal document templates and fix potential claims. After you automatically number the titles, you can create a title in the Quick Styles pane.
Simply hover over the text you want to format as a title and click Heading 1, Heading 2, or Heading 3. It`s hard to overstate the time auto-dialing saves you when you`re working on a briefing.