Microsoft Word “Styles” cuts down on repetitive manual formatting and ensures consistent styling—when the relevant settings are configured for the legal writer. The template (.dotx) files are intended to be: Plan once, use often, and change/update only when necessary.
But there are practical reasons why many brief writers haven’t bothered to customize or use their Word Styles.
1. Microsoft lacks on-point Styles resources for the non-specialist user.
2. Styles’ user interfaces are not intuitive to browse through, even for the most curious.
3. There are over 120 default Styles and settings (not counting Tables). Most brief writers will only ever use a fraction. Wading through all of that—without a useful point-of-reference—just doesn’t seem worth the decision fatigue to puzzle through.
The problems grow, however, because more time is wasted on day-to-day repetitive manual formatting and reviewing for each document. Worse, many of Word’s default settings are flat-out unhelpful for the legal-reading audience.
This Guide will show you how things don’t have to stay that way.
Strategic formatting is a brief preparation and reading/understanding advantage! Professional typographer and lawyer Matthew Butterick reminds:
You choose what to wear in court based on how you want to be seen. You choose a speaking style for an oral argument based on how you want to be heard. The reason we care about clothing and speaking style—and typography—is because they’re all part of the presentation of an argument. And presentation matters specifically because it’s not meaningless. It reinforces our core message by adding its own complementary meaning.
This Word Styles mapping tool only focuses on the elements commonly used in brief writing.
- Around twenty-five topics are covered.
- Space is reserved for you to pre-identify your setting preferences before you go to your keyboard.
- Annotated images aid as commonsense, step-by-step, walk-throughs.
I hope this is something you put into your workflow practice if you haven’t already. Your digital-reading audience expects it. Once you have templates in place, you’ll wish someone had shown you much earlier in your career. (Thanks for nothing, Microsoft.)
Interested to see how things “could be”? Here’s a link to a .docx modified federal court filing that you can download right now. Just follow the “click here” instructions in the Word comments. https://bit.ly/3gbXUfc [Warning, the matter involved late-night comedian John Oliver and the filing includes mild profanity.]
Not up for kicking the tires on a demo file? Simply want the how-to? Here you go!Fullscreen Mode
[Interested in more? You’ll likely appreciate Linda Foulkes’s Learn Microsoft Office 2019: A comprehensive guide to getting started with Word, PowerPoint, Excel, Access, and Outlook.]