Tools of the Trade

10 Technical Tips
guest author: Candy J. Ryan, CRP, BA

  1. View Hidden formatting codes in Microsoft Word - use the show/hide feature on the tool ribbon located in the Paragraph section and select the icon in the upper right hand corner the paragraph symbol () it will show you the formatting within your document. To go further with this you can get deeper into the formatting by using the Reveal Formatting feature: Shift + F1, a pane opens on right hand side which corresponds to your location in document, this pane shows font, spacing and paragraph formatting and sections formatting, margins, header footers, etc. You can select different sections to show the paragraph formatting. This feature shows you all formatting added to the document, if you are having a problem figuring out why a document is doing something this feature may help you out.

Here are a few Google Legal Research search tips:

  1. Using Google Scholar you can do legal research using features which allow you to enter the parameters like case law and state courts, you can then enter search terms to find your case law.
  2. You can also use Google Advanced Search this feature opens a dialog box prompting you for different searches if you don't know how to do it. Entering all words or quotes. You can also search for date ranges and file types.
  3. Google Guide this one is good because it allows access for novices that shows you different ways to make your searches and assists with selecting search terms and outlines the best way to search. Some of the tips are avoiding stop words, words you shouldn't use because they won't be looked at in the search. An important feature is using the ~ which is a helpful in searching. It also provides a downloadable cheat sheet.
  4. Google Alerts a great way to keep an eye on the status of a subject, website or item. You can access through your gmail account, by creating an alert, like when your name is mentioned or your firm is mentioned. It is a good way to track current information on subjects relevant to your firm or pending cases.
  5. Printing an email from someone else, i.e., client, witness or attorney without your name on the top. There are two ways to do this, one is simple and does not change the native formatting of the email. First go to "File" then select "Print Options" select "Page Setup" and reset the Title Font to 1 pt. and your name will be unreadable. The other option is to save the email as a PDF and then redact your name from the Title of the document.
  6. Redacting a PDF using Word: Select on Insert tab on toolbar, Select Object and select "Create from File" browse to the PDF to redact, select "Insert" and "OK" to add the PDF to the word document. Select the "Shapes" button, choose the rectangle, when the cursor turns into a plus sign, and draw a small rectangle over the words/sentences to redact. Select the border of the rectangle to open the orange "Drawing Tools" tab, select the "Shape Fill" button and select on the black square, the line is now redacted.
  7. Redacting a word or phrase in a PDF, you can search for and redact a word or phrase throughout the document. Go to "Document" on the tool bar, select "Redaction", select "Search and Redact" the Search window allows you to insert a phrase and match case or words. Select "Search and Redact" and it will highlight the phrase to be redacted. When you are sure the phrases are correct then right click on the image and select "Apply" the redaction is then applied throughout the document.
  8. Redacting a phrase or word on PDF at a certain location on each page throughout the document. Go to "Document" on the tool bar, select "Redaction", select "Mark Redaction" when the cursor appears mark the location on the page which is to be redacted, right click on the box and select "Mark Areas on All Pages". This will redact the same location on each page. Then apply the redaction.
  9. Convert a table or chart in PDF to an Excel document; this can be done in Adobe. Select "File" "Save As" "Spreadsheet" it automatically names the new document and puts in the same folder with the same name. You should also check the "Settings" option and make sure that OCR is run for it and any numeric settings that may be needed. You will need to edit a little like header rows or alignments.


Candy J. Ryan, CRP, BA, is currently employed as a litigation paralegal at the firm of Parsons, McEntire, McClearly & Clark, PLLC. She has extensive experience handling such diverse matters as commercial litigation, insurance defense, bankruptcy, business and corporate, probate and trust, real estate, and trucking and railroad, as well as family law. Ms. Ryan has ably assisted attorneys with commercial and business litigation case management, including but not limited to, preparing and responding to discovery requests; records retrieval; review and analysis; as well as preparing for trials, arbitrations, depositions and hearings; and has participated in evidentiary presentations at trial and arbitration. She is experienced in the preparation and filing of pleadings, documents and discovery in both federal and state courts in numerous jurisdictions, including, Texas, California, Washington, Oregon, Arkansas, Oklahoma, and others. Ms. Ryan has been an active part of the legal community since 1980, having worked in Seattle, San Diego, and Dallas. She earned her B.A. degree in paralegal studies from California Creek University. She is a graduate of the University of San Diego, ABA accredited Paralegal Studies Program, and has specialized in litigation for more than 25 years. In addition, Ms. Ryan is one of the initial 16 paralegals to be certified by the National Federation of Paralegal Association (NFPA) as a CORE registered paralegal in the state of Texas and one of the first 200 CRPs in the United States. She has also served as Chair of the Dallas Area Paralegal Association's Litigation Section since 2009, was former President (2011), President-Elect (2010), Education Vice President (2012-2013, 2016), and has served as an Advisory Board Member for various paralegal programs in the Dallas Area since 2009.

Institute for Paralegal Education • 1218 McCann Drive • Altoona, WI 54720 • © 2016, Institute for Paralegal Education, a division of NBI, Inc. All Rights Reserved.