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Word Tips for Legal Writers

Word tips for law students and other legal writers.

Automatic Formatting

Word is set up to do a lot automatically. For instance, if you start a line with a number, it assumes that you want the next line to be numbered too. If Word's defaults work for you, great. If you find that they get in the way, you can turn them off.

Tinker with the Defaults

File > Options > Proofing

screen snip Word Options Proofing box

Click AutoCorrect Options. Work through the menus for AutoCorrect, AutoFormat, and AutoFormat As You Type.

We recommend unchecking "Ordinals (1st) with superscript." This is not just our taste: it's consistent with Bluebook R. 6.2(b). You want to discuss the 101st Cong. and the 9th Cir.—no superscripts.

It's also a good idea to change the AutoCorrect options that change (c) to ©, (e) to €, and (r) to ®. Otherwise you will find yourself writing about statutes that have subsections (a), (b), ©, (d), €, etc.

 

Word > Preferences > AutoCorrect

screen snip Word Preferences

screen snip Word Preferences in Mac

 

Click AutoCorrect Options. Work through the menus for AutoCorrect, AutoFormat, and AutoFormat As You Type.

We recommend unchecking "Ordinals (1st) with superscript." This is not just our taste: it's consistent with Bluebook R. 6.2(b). You want to discuss the 101st Cong. and the 9th Cir.—no superscripts.

It's also a good idea to change the AutoCorrect options that change (c) to ©, (e) to €, and (r) to ®. Otherwise you will find yourself writing about statutes that have subsections (a), (b), ©, (d), €, etc.

AutoCorrect & AutoText

Word automatically corrects some common typos. For instance, if you type "acheive," Word corrects it to "achieve." This is a good thing—unless you're trying to write about someone whose name is "Moeny" and Word keeps changing it to "Money."

You can take words out of the AutoCorrect list.

You can also put in words that you know you mess up. For example, if you type "appealate" for "appellate" and can make it so Word catches your mistake.

Adding to & Subtracting from the AutoCorrect list

File > Options > Proofing > AutoCorrect options

If you want to stop Word from correcting something (e.g., if you want to be able to type "moeny"), scroll down to the word and delete it from the table.

If you want to add something (e.g., correcting "appeallate" to "appellate"), fill in the line: Replace: ___ with ___.

 

Word > Preferences > AutoCorrect

If you want to stop Word from correcting something (e.g., if you want to be able to type "moeny"), scroll down to the word and delete it from the table.

If you want to add something (e.g., correcting "appeallate" to "appellate"), fill in the line: Replace: ___ with ___.