Me and my partner, Jennifer Ellis, just returned from presenting numerous seminars at The Paralegal Institute and The Law Practice Management and Development Institute, both of which were held at the beautiful Lancaster Marriott Hotel & Convention Center. I presented, among others, a session on Word for Paralegals, and Word for Attorneys, respectively, at each institute. I ran into a frustrating and embarassing problem when demonstrating Outline Numbering in Word. I promised those who attended I would get to the bottom of the problem and post the resolution on my blog. I am making good on that promise with this post.
While still at the conference, I contacted our Microsoft trainer, Judith Kraft, to see if she had a solution. Judy’s suggestion was worth noting, however it was not the cause of the problem I experienced at the conference. I had already detected that a Microsoft Word default setting was, ahem, wrong, and fixed it. But it’s likely that you haven’t, so you will want to check this first, before you attempt to follow my instructions.
It seems that by default the automatic numbered lists check box might not be checked in the Autocorrect section. To get there: Click the Office button / select Word Options in bottom right / Proofing / Autocorrect / make sure that “autoformat as you type” is checked. If not, click in the box to turn it on. The default is NOT turned on in the 2007 and 2010 versions out of the box.
Ok, but as I said, that isn’t what was causing the pesky problem during the demonstration. Then I remembered that when I last suffered a similar embarassment, it was demonstrating the exact same feature in Word 2003. And I further recalled having the problem as far back as Word 2000, when I first encountered it.
The resolution at the time was to accept the fact that the one outline numbering format/style which seemed to be the most popular and appropriate with/for attorneys was in fact the only one which was buggy. It just doesn’t work. Could it be that all these years later, the problem had not yet been fixed? Inplausible. Impossible. Yet, unbelievably, absolutely true!!
Since every outline style is completely customizable — one of the reasons for the demonstration — I decided to prove the hypothesis by using a different style, and making it look like the other one. In doing so, I also discovered yet another shortcut which you will find makes it even better and easier to do this. Here are the steps I performed:
- From the HOME tab, click on the Multi-level List Icon (the main icon, not the pull-down arrow next to it).
- When the menu opens, I noted that “None” was selected. I immediately scrolled down to the bottom section of the dialog box and selected “Define New Multilevel List”.
- I clicked on Level 1 to modify in the top-left box.
- I went to “Number style for this Level” and clicked on the down arrow, and selected “I, II, III” for roman numerals.
- I went into “Enter formatting for number box” immediately above. I removed the right parentheses and replaced it with a period. [Remember, you format this the way you want. Just because I choose to put in or take out a parentheses or period, doesn’t mean you have to do the same. You format each level how you want.]
- I clicked on “Font” immediately to the right. I picked the font I normally use for default, since it’s pretty likely it will match whatever document I use it in. While you are in there, you should notice whether your font color says “No Color” and if so, change it to “Automatic”. [If you want your numbers to stand out, you can pick whatever other color you want.] I also chose to make the numbering Bold. I also noticed that all of the “Effects” were shaded. Just to make sure there were no errors, I purposely checked, and then unchecked each, so no special effects would be inadvertently applied. [Remember, if you do this right, you won’t have to do it again, so take the time to do it right.]
- You’ll note that if you use the up and down arrows, by default the increments will change in 6 pt increments. But you can just select (click and drag over) the number and type in anything you want. If you’re using 10 pt for your font, then putting a 10 pt space after your paragraph will give you the equivalent of one blank line. If you’re using a 12 pt font, then you’ll want to space 12 pt after the paragraph for the proportionate blank line. And so forth.
- When you correctly include the extra space within the paragraph, you’ll discover that when you move things around you won’t wind up with blank paragraphs (your extra blank lines) getting numbered in error, and having to turn numbering on and off manually. Again, your current technique may look like it’s working, but it’s actually putting errors in your document side-stream which can eventually cause it to corrupt. By building the space into the paragraph, Word intelligently selects the paragraph with the extra space, and moves them together without causing numbering errors.
[Note: some of you may not know about intelligent selection. If you put your mouse in the gutter to the left of any paragraph you want to select – you’ll see an arrow instead of the blinking cursor — and double-click, Word will intelligently select the paragraph in entirety, including any spacing before or after, and including what looks like multiple paragraphs thanks to soft returns.]
SAVE YOUR DOCUMENT. Even if you’ve tested the outline with total gibberish for text, it doesn’t matter. As long as you’ve got all nine levels on there and looking as you want, and the spacing between paragraphs just as you want, give it a name and save it. Why? My next post will tell you how to make a style out of the outline in this document, so you never have to do this again. Ever. You’ll only have to turn on the style, and it will be perfect every time. So stay tuned!