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Formatting an Appellate Brief in MS Word: Quick Tips and Tricks

Guide to formatting an appellate brief using MS Word on a PC or Mac.

Font Formatting: Superscripts and Small Caps

Superscript ordinal numbers are the default in MS Word:

Ordinal numeral "fifth" in superscript

However, the Bluebook forbids the use of superscript ordinals, and so many legal professionals do not use them. To change a superscript ordinal to ordinary font, highlight the superscript portion, right-click, choose Font, then un-check the box for Superscript in the Effects pane.

To turn off the default superscript setting entirely, go to File > Options > Proofing > AutoCorrect Options > AutoFormat As You Type > uncheck the box for "Ordinals with superscript."

To enable or disable small caps font:

Image of text in small caps font

Highlight the text, right-click, select Font, then use the Small Caps check box in the Effects pane.

Section and Paragraph Symbols

Windows Instructions

To insert a section symbol (§), Insert > Symbol > More Symbols > Special Characters > §. Your most recently used inserted symbols will show up after you go to Insert > Symbol, so the process will get shorter. However, since as a legal writer, you will probably be using the section symbol regularly, you may as well go ahead and set up a keyboard shortcut.

To create a keyboard shortcut: Insert > Symbol > More Symbols > Special Characters > choose § > Shortcut Key. Enter a keyboard combination you will remember (I use CONTROL + ALT + S), click Assign, then Close.

To insert a paragraph symbol, follow the instructions above but select ¶ instead of §.

Mac Instructions

Insert > Symbol > Symbol Browser to choose either section or paragraph symbols. Or just use Option+6 to use the preassigned shortcut for §, and Option+7 to use the shortcut for ¶.

Deleting Personal Information and Hidden Text

Microsoft Word automatically saves the name of a document's author, as well as the history of changes to your document. If you are turning in an electronic version of your paper for grading, you will need to remove your name from your document to ensure anonymous grading. If you are submitting an electronic version of your document to a court, opposing counsel, etc., you will want to remove the history of changes to your document so that your efforts at crafting your legal arguments and presenting the facts are shown in their final version, rather than all of your initial efforts being available for comparison.

On a PC, In your document, click File and then Info. Click on the Check for Issues button and select Inspect Document. On the Document Inspector screen, click Inspect.

After the document has been scanned, the inspection results will be displayed. If your information, such as your name, was found in the document, this will be indicated under Document Properties and Personal Information. Earlier versions of and changes to your document will be indicated under Comments, Revisions, Versions, and Annotations. Other content that you may want to delete could be indicated under Invisible Content and Hidden Text.

Click the corresponding Remove All buttons to remove this information and then click Close. Save your document.

On a Mac, you will need to adjust your Word Preferences. To start, click on Word and select Preferences.

Select the Security option, and then select Remove Personal Information From This File on Save.

Click OK and save your document.

To delete hidden content, versions, and text on a Mac,

  1. Click the Review tab.
  2. In the Tracking group, click Final Showing Markup.
  3. Click Show Markup.
  4. At a minimum, make sure a check mark appears next to each of the following items:
         - Comments
         - Insertions and Deletions   
         - Formatting
    Also highlight Reviewers and make sure all All Reviewers is selected.
         - All Reviewers
  5. In the Changes section of the Review tab, perform one of the following:
         - To accept all changes in the document, click the down arrow next to Accept and select Accept All Changes in Document.
         - To review each change, click Next or Previous. Then click the down arrow next to Accept or Reject and select Accept/Reject and Move to Next or Accept/Reject Change.
         - To reject all changes in the document, click the down arrow next to Reject and select Reject All Changes in Document.
  6. In the Comments section of the toolbar, perform one of the following:
         - To delete all comments, click Next or Previous. Then click the down arrow next to Delete and select Delete All Comments in Document.
         - To review each comment before deleting it, click Next or Previous. Then click Delete.
  7. When finished, click the File menu and select Save.