The Ultimate Word Set Up for Lawyers

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Attorneys are always under pressure to increase efficiency. Clients are pushing for better drafts, produced in less time. One easy way to do more with less might be right under your nose: making simple changes to the way you use Microsoft Word. 

To celebrate the recent launch of Compose for Microsoft Word, we recently co-hosted a webinar with our friends Ross Guberman from BriefCatch and Alma Asay from Litera to share tips and tricks for using Microsoft Word. (You can watch the recording of the full webinar here.) 

Our panelists shared a ton of great Microsoft Word tips for attorneys. Here are five things lawyers need to know about using Microsoft Word: 

1. Don’t waste time reformatting. Make sure you know which “paste” to use.

One simple but often overlooked trick to Microsoft Word is “paste special.” If you want to make sure that whatever you’re pasting — a case citation, for example — matches the formatting of the rest of your document, don’t just paste it in. Instead, right click, and click “paste special,” then select “Unformatted text.” 

One thing to remember for case citations in particular: this will remove all formatting from what you’re pasting, so you may need to go back and add in italics. 

Want to paste from a numbered list and keep the formatting consistent? You can use paste special for that too — for that, you’ll select “paste values” instead of “unformatted text.” 

2. Find what you’re looking for with wildcards.

Search for words and phrases that might not have the same prefixes or suffixes — for instance, maybe you want to find places the same verb appears in various conjugations.. This will make it much easier to find (and replace) complex text. 

You can find wildcards under the “Find and replace” menu in Microsoft Word. 

3. Make the most of Macros.

Macros are the key to all kinds of Microsoft Word hacks for lawyers. Word macros for lawyers can enable you to do many different things in Word, from formatting legal documents with Microsoft Word to adding in symbols or even blocks of text. Essentially, the way macros work is you record yourself taking an action in Word, then set a keyboard shortcut to repeat that action at any time. This allows you to create your own Microsoft word shortcuts specifically for lawyers. (You can see an example of Alma walking Jake through setting up a custom shortcut for the section symbol below.)

4. Find plug-ins that meet you where you like to work.

One way to increase efficiency in your drafting process is to look into tools that you can easily access in your existing workflow. Litera, BriefCatch, and Compose are all examples of tools that you can access from within Microsoft Word, enabling you to do things like conduct research and easily edit your drafts, all without having to disrupt your workflow by moving to yet another tab. 

5. Make the most of your screen set up.

Found a tool you like in Microsoft Word? Make the most of your screen set up. If you’re an attorney who likes to use multiple screens or an additional monitor, you can pull out plug-ins into separate screens to keep them handy while you’re working.

Want to get even more out of Microsoft word for lawyers or Microsoft word for legal professionals? Visit to see how Compose puts all the arguments and case law you need at your fingertips, all from your drafts in Word, making using Word for legal documents easier than ever.