June 2016

Top Five Tricks for Rehabilitating Old Transactional Agreements

By Lauren Doucette

Ferris & Britton, APC

The following article was originally published in the SDCBA's weekly e-newsletter This Week at the Bar on May 31, 2016.

For many transactional attorneys, reusing an old operating agreement template or a buy-sell agreement from a prior deal years back is more appealing than starting from scratch.  But after hours of working in Microsoft Word to remove formatting flaws or wrestle with making similar sections uniform through styles, starting from scratch sometimes seems like a better solution.  Here are the top five tricks when trying to rehabilitate templates with unwanted formatting issues:

1. Utilizing Paste Options To Your Benefit

Microsoft provides several Paste Options when Copying + Pasting language in a new document:
  • Keep Source Formatting
  • Merge Formatting
  • Keep Text Only

If the new document reflects a similar style to the old document, select the first option.  If the two documents have significantly different formats and you would like to maintain the new document’s formatting, select the second option.  If formatting is giving you trouble altogether, select the third option and all formatting will be removed.  Many attorneys merely allow the default Paste Option to apply (Keep Source Formatting) and then struggle for hours trying to make the entire piecemeal document look uniform.  Help yourself out by toggling through these three options to match the format most similar to the new document.

2. Learn a Few Short Cut Keys

  • Control + Home will jump you all the way to the top of your 150 page agreement without the time consuming scrolling.
  • Control + End will jump you to the bottom of your agreement where you can modify signature blocks or continue typing where you left off.
  • Control C when you have text highlighted to quickly copy it to your clipboard.
  • Control V to paste the copied text where you indicate.
  • Control B to make the highlighted text bold.
  • Control I to make the highlighted text italicized.
  • Shift + Home to highlight the text within the line your cursor currently is through until the very beginning of the line.
  • Shift + End to highlight the text within the line your cursor currently is through the end of that line.

3. Turn on Formatting Marks

Many of you may have begun your word processing careers on Word Perfect, before Microsoft Word became the norm.  There is a way to still show all formatting marks, just as Word Perfect used to do automatically.  The button is on the top toolbar and is the paragraph symbol (¶).  Showing the formatting marks within the document can give you better clues as to formatting issues, such as show you hidden Page Breaks or Section Breaks, or can give you hints such as when a Style is taking over on formatting controls.

4. Use Rulers to Realign Misshapen Paragraphs and/or Sections

Rulers are the numbered toolbars on the top and left-hand side of the page that look similar to rulers.  To show Rulers, select View and select the box next to Rulers.  To hide Rulers, simply uncheck this box.  Each new paragraph or section in the document will move the trapezoid-looking icon somewhere on the ruler.  This is your indentations.  To realign all sections to start at a particular indent, simply highlight the text and move the indent symbols to the desired location. 

5. Automatic Numbering

When copy and pasting previously used language into a new document, many times the bulleted formatting or automatic list numbering will transfer over and wreak havoc on your current numbered list.  To continue the same numbering sequence or style currently being utilized in the document, right click on the trouble auto number.  Word gives you a few options such as Continue Numbering, Restart at 1, and Set Numbering Value.  All of these modifiers are helpful when unifying former lists with new lists.

To learn more tips and tricks for Microsoft Word, attend the SDCBA’s Technical Skills Series on Microsoft Word for Legal Professionals. Part Two of the four-part series will take place on June 29 at the SDCBA Conference Center. For details and to register, click here.    

This article is for information purposes and does not contain or convey legal advice. The information herein should not be relied upon in regard to any particular facts or circumstances without first consulting with a lawyer.