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On occasion at work, I have to call the help desk with a question that requires someone to take remote control of my computer. And, during those times, I wonder if the techie gets a chuckle when he sees the icon I’ve renamed “Word ImPerfect.” Hopefully, he appreciates the joke. Old habits do die hard, don’t they? We get attached, to a certain degree, to our equipment and to software so that even new advances — that can make your job easier — seem like stumbling blocks to make the job harder. I’ve been word processing for a long time. And, I had my love affair with WordPerfect. I can remember being thrilled to have my work actually displayed on a screen. Quite honestly, I’m not long past my WordPerfect infatuation. Several years ago I was content working in Word and WordPerfect. I had a lot of experience in both, and jumping back and forth between the two wasn’t a challenge. But, then came the arrival of WordPerfect Version 8.0; the romance was over. Subtle differences combined with a too-similar appearance and the expectation that applications would be the same made the new version of WordPerfect confusing and cumbersome. I thought it was a less-than-perfect imitation. Most of us have experienced the problematic results of dealing with converted documents. We are familiar with those times when stripping down a document is the only way to get the formatting, numbering, headers/footers (let alone the table of contents) back to an acceptable (and recognizable) presentation. I could swear — and there are some folks who’ll back me up — that a stripped-down document can hold onto corruption that even an exorcist can’t get rid of. The basic fact that we’re all confronted with in the long run, though, is that no matter how attached we become to our way of doing things, or how proficient or comfortable we are with our preferred software and methods, the word-processing industry has adopted Word as its standard. Our clients and business contacts predominantly use Word for their document-processing needs and most software vendors design their products to integrate with Microsoft products. Transferring documents via e-mail with clients becomes a way to deal in the moment with the processes of review, revision and input. Compatibility is the key for effectively sharing documents electronically. Facing the challenge of staying at the cutting edge of technology is where our respective firms find themselves. Since, as professionals, we are called upon to have this same mission, let’s look at some ways to ease our transition. Now, what’s the first thing I always hear when someone expresses that Word is not as user-friendly as their tried-and-true friend, WordPerfect? “I want my reveal codes.” Choose Shift, F1. Word actually does have its own version of reveal codes. When the question mark appears, click on anything you want to see the formatting for and Word will reveal it to you. Once you’ve determined the inherent formatting, you can go to “styles” and customize with ease if you wish. No more searching around for imbedded and forgotten fonts, styles and footprints. “I miss my flush right key.” Grab that reversed “L” for a flush right tab and take it to your far right margin, hit Tab and type your text. I keep a flush right tab as a standard in all my customized styles; it always comes in handy. Does anyone really miss Footer A/Footer B? Headers and Footers can be daunting in the beginning for those accustomed to WordPerfect, but once the logic is apparent, it’s an easy process to have a basic document followed seamlessly by as many separately titled exhibits as an attorney can come up with to attach to it. First, remember to end your basic document as well as each exhibit or attachment by inserting a “section break — next page.” Then, if your attachments need to begin with new titled footers and page numbers, make sure the “same as previous” button in your header/footer toolbar is off, and you will have the ability to distinguish each attachment as necessary. HAVE SOME STYLE Styles give the user many pre-set formatting options for all types of documents as well as the versatility to customize to your specific requirements. Format painter (the brush you see on your toolbar) is an exceptionally powerful and effective tool in Word that allows you to carry forward the formatting you set up flawlessly. Here are some tidbits of significance. Compatibility.Word is inherently integrated with most other software applications you typically use, such as Excel, PowerPoint, etc. Tables.Using Word to do your tables and charts combines simplicity and versatility to create outstanding, professional-looking documents. Automation.Custom templates and time-saving enhancements are an exciting aspect of using Word, and the opportunities for these will only increase. Conversion.No more damaged and corrupted documents. (I’m tempted to list this one twice.) Transition can be difficult, and it can seem like things change so rapidly at times that we scarcely assimilate a software change or upgrade before yet another change comes along. Now, as many of us say goodbye to good old WordPerfect, it may be encouraging to realize that advances within today’s integrated technologies will take us in the direction of progressively building on the skills we develop rather than starting over. Word is definitely today. All indications are that Word is the future as well. The first step is always the hardest, but it’s a step that will reap rewards not only for our industry, but also for all professionals who need to stay on the cutting edge. Jesse Parraine is an executive legal secretary at Dallas-based Munsch Hardt Kopf & Harr. Her e-mail address is [email protected]. She would like to acknowledge her co-workers, Donna Bowen, Melinda Platt, Jean White, Brenda Rowe and Lenetta Guthridge, for their time and “brainstorming” assistance.

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