Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Help with Tables of Contents & Authorities

As first-year students work diligently on their appellate briefs this semester, they will undoubtedly discover that good legal writing involves more than canny research and sharp analysis. There’s also some technical wizardry involved in crafting the perfect court filing.

Court rules (see research guide) usually provide detailed formatting requirements for court filings, from word limit to margin size to color of the cover sheet. In law practice, failure to conform to these rules can result in the rejection of a filing by the court clerk...but in LARW, failure to conform to the formatting specifications can result in the entirely preventable loss of precious grade points.

Perhaps the most difficult formatting issue that 1Ls encounter involves generating tables of contents and tables of authorities, which were most likely not required in undergraduate writing projects. Fortunately, there’s no need to create these tables from scratch—most word-processing programs can generate these tables automatically. The basic processes are similar, but vary depending upon the program you are using. Here are “how-to” links from four of the most popular word-processing programs: Microsoft Word 2003, Microsoft Word 2007, OpenOffice, and WordPerfect 12.

Microsoft Word 2003
Microsoft Word 2007
WordPerfect 12
Do you have a favorite formatting tip for legal writers? Perhaps you use a word-processing program that we didn’t cover? Let us know in the comments section.