Thursday, June 26, 2014

Enhance Your Office Experience – Tabs in Word, Beautiful PPTs, Automated Proofreading and much more

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It’s a product which we use everywhere and we will tell you the tricks to take the experience a notch higher!
MS Office has become indispensable part of many of our lives (Open Source just died a silent death somewhere?)  Though office on its own is pretty complete in itself I would tell you here of some add-ons which will take your Office experience to the next level. I would be mainly focusing on Word and PowerPoint in this article as these two software are what mainly used by legal fraternity.

Yet to get that law firm job, Outlook will come after that ;)

Automated Proofreading – Remember that time when your supervisor at your internship took your case because of that missed comma/bad formatting/ misspelling etc. We all hate Grammar Nazis, don’t we?  At least I hate them for sure.  (Pro tip – When confronting a Grammar Nazi, softly say to them, “There, their, they’re”) So now to avoid this not so welcome situation, I offer you Ginger. Yeah sounds funny name for a proof-reader but believe me it’s a life saver. Ginger has many medicinal benefits, the first one being that it saves you from headache.
But do remember that Ginger at the end of the day is a software prone to err, use your brain before accepting the recommended changes by the software. Add Consistency Checker to Word and your formatting is also taken care of.

ginger proofreading app for ms word

Tabs in Office – We all love Tabs, don’t we? One of the most horrid aspects of MS Office and especially word is that each document opens in a different window making use multiple windows simultaneously a PITA. Well we have a solution here all you need is Office Tab and you are good to go.

office tab

Better Presentation – I suck at making presentations. I am pretty sure there are many of you who fail miserably when it comes to making an attractive PowerPoint presentation.
Yes, we all dream of that powerful and beautiful board-room presentation, even though it’s going to be presented in class.

I have a way out! Add Visual Bee to PowerPoint make a simple PPT and click on enhance PPT. Select a nice theme and you are good to go. Alternatively you could also use import PowerPoint in Prezi and come up with an attractive flash based presentation in a single click.

Flowcharts – Remember that Property or Family case law which had more parties to the case than characters in the Lord of the Rings? The only way to remember who was who was by making a flowchart. Lucidchart and Gliffy Diagrams are two great free add-ons which let you make complex flowcharts in MS Word. Yes, absolutely free!

Citation Management – One bane that legal writing suffers from is citation. Often I found easier to write a legal paper than correctly cite it. These guidelines are so stringent that it takes forever to cite only. The details are too many, italicize the author’s name, and write this in upper case, that in lower case and so on. Zotero is the solution. Just feed the basic info to Zotero and it will generate the correct citation for you.  (I personally prefer CiteThisforMe for one or two citations). Zotero’s integration with MS Word is quite handy and makes life a bit easier. Mind you, just a little bit J

zotero at work

Dictionary – How about Merriam Webster Dictionary, integrated in MS Word itself? You know what the best part about it is, it’s completely free and yes, it’s authoritative too.

Drafting – Ever heard of legalzoom the legal documentation website? Well, you have now.  They have created a free nifty addon for MS Word which provides common templates used for drafting. (You could also check out kagzaat, a simple legal documentation site).

Note – Some of the suggested apps above may not be compatible with your version of MS Office.

If you liked this, do also check our series on enhancing your web browser over here and here.