WordPerfect Auto Numbering Made Even Easier!

Let’s break this up into three parts, shall we?

1. How to use a custom outline/auto paragraph numbering macro I may have written for you.
2. Tips for working with the WordPerfect auto numbering/outline feature.
3. Issues with using auto numbering when allowing MS Word users to edit your document.

Part 1: Using Pragmatic Macros

To format any document with a custom auto numbering style using a WordPerfect macro written by me:

1. Place the cursor where you want the numbering to begin or at the top of the document. (I always put it at the top of the document so it’s easy to find later.)

2. Play the macro. Depending on your preferences, I’ve either given you a shortcut key (ALT+O) or placed a button on your toolbar which shows a I.A.1. descending top left to bottom right of the button. So either type your shortcut key or click your button. The screen will flash a few times and insert the first number at the location of the cursor. If you don’t need a number in that exact spot (like at the top of the doc), turn it off with “CTRL+H”

3. Once the macro has been played in a document and the document has been saved, the macro never needs to be run in that document again. (Unless you accidentally delete it – another reason I place it at the top of the document instead of placing it at the first numbered paragraph).

Part 2: TIPS for Working with Auto Paragraph Numbering: Continue reading “WordPerfect Auto Numbering Made Even Easier!”

Should your firm switch from WordPerfect to Word?

Be warned, if you want a yes or no answer, you won’t find any bobble heads here. Rather than say “Yes! Switch!” and ride the gravy train through your conversion, I’m going to suggest you take a step back and objectively think this through with me.

Let’s start with your goals. What are you trying to accomplish by converting to MS Word? What do you want/need to do that you can’t do now? Why can’t you do it? Are you having trouble with document formatting? Is it that you just don’t know how to successfully convert your documents from Word to WordPerfect and back? When is the last time you had computer training? What version of WordPerfect are you currently using? Do you need to upgrade your software to WP13?

(If you switched to MS Word, it wouldn’t be to Word 97, Word XP or Word 2002, so why expect an outdated version of WordPerfect to work “perfectly” with the newer versions of MS Word your clients may be using?)

Why does any “WordPerfect Firm” consider switching to Word? Time and time again, the reason has been the same: To allow clients to revise their documents and . . . “everybody uses Word.” If that’s your answer, I have two responses:

1. If you regularly update your software, you have always had the ability to successfully convert documents from Word to WordPerfect and back.

Even if you have an outdated version of WordPerfect, there is a “trick” you can employ. For more information, see my post entitled “Converting Between WordPerfect and Word

2. If you currently grant your clients the right to edit their own legal documents, consider a change in methodology to eliminate the risks associated with doing so, while eliminating extra work at the same time.

What do I mean by “a change in methodology?” Collaborate on document content instead of sharing editing rights. When I say that out loud, I’m often asked to explain the difference, so let me say it another way: Just because you collaborate on document content, doesn’t mean the document must be edited by all the collaborators. Doing so exposes you to risk.

(Risks? What risks? Sharing document revision with clients and outside attorneys puts law firms at risk. To better understand the risks, read my posts entitled, “Metadata, Shmetadata. It won’t happen to me.” and “Just because we can, doesn’t mean we should.”)

The following alternative should be considered: Continue reading “Should your firm switch from WordPerfect to Word?”

Just because we can, doesn’t mean we should.

The fastest increasing quantity on this planet is the amount of information we are generating. It is (and has been) expanding faster than anything else we create or can measure over the scale of decades. Information moves faster too. Sometimes instantaneously. In our struggle to keep up, we sometimes adopt new technology without considering the unintended consequences.

So are you ready to click away from here, thinking, “What is she talking about?”

I’m talking about the technology driven methodology we’ve adopted to create and revise legal documents. Providing clients with the ability to edit their own legal documents seemed harmless in the beginning. In the beginning, we talked to the client about every single change. We still proofed our documents, revision by revision. Some of us used boxes of red felt tip markers to check off each completed revision. We didn’t worry about the content of the documents because we always read them when they came back to us.

Then we discovered metadata. We discovered our clients computing skills were . . . different than ours. Rather than discuss every single revision, we spent time comparing the content of the returned document with our version of it. Then we spent additional time cleaning up the format of those returned documents. When we did read an entire document, we sometimes discovered the content wasn’t “right.” If only word processing software came with a “content” checker along with a spell and grammar checker.

Some firms have tackled the problems head on. They’ve researched and implemented proactive solutions, whether they be software purchases and upgrades, staff training, methodology changes, or a combination of the three. Good for you!

Many firms have dismissed the risks and continue to allow clients to edit their own documents without implementing procedures to effectively and safely manage the process. Not so good for you.

How Did This Happen? The impetus for change was that the client wanted editing rights to their own legal documents. Feeling the pressure from clients to adopt MS Word as a primary word processor, many law firms converted. Other firms adopted a “dual platform environment” whereby they continued to harness the power of WordPerfect to edit their documents and converted them to Word when sending them to clients.

With more recent advancements in technology, the issue isn’t whether your firm uses Word or WordPerfect. What matters is that you protect yourself, your client’s interests and the integrity of the documents for which you are responsible. Admittedly, you have choices as to how that can be done. Continue reading “Just because we can, doesn’t mean we should.”

Metadata, Shmetadata. "It won’t happen to me."

What is Metadata and why do you care?

Simply? Metadata is information about information. In Microsoft Word documents, it includes information about how and when a document was edited as well as the edits themselves. The edits themselves? Yes.

As you create and revise documents, your edits (document revisions, document versions, hidden text, comments, file property and summary information, non-visible portions of embedded objects) are saved, along with information about you (your name, initials, firm name, the names of previous document authors, the name of your computer, network server name, template information).

Why? Metadata isn’t a mistake or a recently discovered computer “bug.” It’s included in Microsoft Word by design. Computer programmers work in a collaborative environment and they need to document changes to program code. Metadata allows programmers to “see” who developed the code, when those developments occurred, and how those developments are manifested in the application. Unfortunately, programmers don’t practice law, so while Metadata makes logical sense from a programmer’s view of the world, it doesn’t work well in the rigorous, document-centric world of law firms.

For law firms, a big reveal comes with the use of the Track Changes feature. If Track Changes are used, but not accepted, all tracked changes are saved with the document. (Switching the display view from “Final Showing Markup” to “Final” isn’t the same as accepting the changes.) And even if the software is used correctly, look what I found:

Excerpt from the Microsoft Word Legal Users Guide
for Word 97 and Word XP (2000) (LOTS of people are still using Word XP)
Microsoft’s warning regarding the use of its Compare Documents Feature

“IMPORTANT NOTE: Microsoft recommends that most law firms use a third party solution for document comparison, such as Lexis-Nexis’ CompareRite, or Workshare’s Deltaview. See the chapter on third party solutions for more information about these products. Microsoft Word’s compare documents features works on relatively simple documents that do not contain too much complex formatting. Because of the complex nature of most legal documents, Word’s compare documents feature does not produce as good a result as the third party products mentioned above. Microsoft is currently working to address this shortcoming, but in the meantime the third party solutions are recommended.” (emphasis added)

“As good as a result.”

What does that mean? In my experience, it means that when you accept changes, maybe it will. Maybe it won’t. You need to proofread the document to be sure your intended changes actually appear before you send it to anyone for review. But here’s the kicker. Others who revise the document must do the same. Will they? What version of MS Word are they using?

Follow me here:
A document leaves your office. It is edited by your client using the track changes feature. The client “accepts” the changes in the document. One (or more) of the changes they made to the document isn’t accepted and doesn’t appear. Assuming the software performed as requested, the client doesn’t proofread the document before he/she sends it back to you. You get the document and run a “compare” on it. The revised language wasn’t there when the document left you. It isn’t there when you get it back. Comparing the documents will not pick this up. Who is responsible for the missing or (UN)revised language?

Who will the client say is responsible?

The answer? Offer the client the value added service of legal document creation and revision. Furnish the client with the document in PFD for review. Accept all document revisions via a separate document or within the content of an email. Protect yourself, your client and the integrity of the document. Eliminate your risk.

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