Editing TOA codes in Word

October 9, 2014 at 12:02 pm

Recently, I was teaching a class about creating and generating a Table of Contents (TOC) and a Table of Authorities (TOA) in Word at the Department of Justice, where I work part-time as a contract trainer / template designer.  One of the legal assistants in the class asked me what to do if she made a mistake while marking a citation — such as a court case — for inclusion in the TOA.  She said someone had told her she had to delete the resulting TOA code and start over.

Not so.  It’s quick and easy to edit the codes themselves.  I’ve been demonstrating that trick since the 1990s, when I taught computer classes for legal professionals at UCLA Extension and the University of West Los Angeles.

Here’s how it works.  After you mark a citation, Word automatically turns on Show / Hide (Show / Hide is the feature that displays non-printing characters such as spaces between words, tabs, the paragraph marks at the end of paragraphs, etc., as well as hidden text). The reason is so that you can view, and if necessary edit, the TOA code that gets inserted when you mark a cite. Ordinarily, the TOA codes are hidden, but it makes sense that you might want to view them immediately after marking a citation.  That way, you can see whether you made any mistakes and, if so, fix them within the code, rather than having to delete the code and re-mark the cite.

In practice, what might you want to edit, and how would you go about it?

Here’s what a typical code looks like (in Word, you would see the spaces between words represented by vertically centered dots, but I’m unable to replicate that feature easily in this post)[1]:

{ TA \ l “Flintrock v. Rabble, 324 F.Supp. 719, 724 (CD Cal. 2009)” \s “Flintrock” \c 1}

The “TA” at the beginning identifies the code as a Table of Authorities code.  The “\ l” (a slash followed by the letter “L,” which people often mistake for the number 1, but actually is an “L”) indicates the long form of the citation — in other words, the entire cite more or less as it first appears in your document.  Note that whatever appears between the quotation marks within the long citation section of the code is what will display when you generate the TOA.  If you like, you can make changes to that portion of the code.

For instance, most people don’t include the “pin cites” (secondary page references) in the generated TOA.  In this example, the primary page reference is the 719 (the first page where the court case appears in the actual Federal Supplement or other hard-cover book, which shouldn’t be deleted); the secondary page reference is the 724 (the specific page in the book that the person writing the document wants to point the reader to).  If you don’t want to include the pin cite, delete the comma, the space, and 724 so that the code looks like so:

{ TA \ l “Flintrock v. Rabble, 324 F.Supp. 719 (CD Cal. 2009)” \s “Flintrock” \c 1}

You can also edit the code so that the page citation (everything following “Flintrock v. Rabble”) is automatically bumped to the next line and indented when you generate the TOA.  To do so, simply position the cursor after the comma that follows the case name and press Shift Enter (not Enter by itself).  Shift Enter is the keyboard shortcut for a Soft Return, sometimes called a Line Break.  In Word, a soft return is represented by a broken arrow pointing to the left.  (I can’t replicate that in this post.)

The “\ s” — a slash followed by the letter “S” — is the short form of the citation.  The short form is what Word uses to locate additional instances of the cite when you click “Mark All” rather than “Mark” in the Mark Citation dialog box.  It’s also what you use to mark another instance of the same citation and/or any “Id.” that refers back to that citation.  Typically, I don’t change this portion of the code.

The final portion of the code is the “\c 1” (a slash followed by the letter “C” followed by a number.  I’ve used the number 1 in my example, but the number will not always be a 1.)  The “C” refers to the category that the citation falls into; the number represents the category itself. Word automatically creates headings for each category you use when you generate the TOA.

How does Word arrive at the category number?  It’s painfully simple once you know:  Literally, the number is the order in which the category appears in the “Category” drop-down list within the Mark Citation dialog box.  So if you inadvertently marked the cite with the wrong category (e.g., Federal Statutes), just open the Mark Citation dialog, take a look at the Category list, count down from the very top of the list, make a note of the placement of the correct category (e.g., Federal Cases) — let’s say it’s the fourth one from the top — and then change the number in the code from, e.g., \c 1 to \c 4.  The edited code would look something like this:

{ TA \ l “Flintrock v. Rabble, 324 F.Supp. 719 (CD Cal. 2009)” \s “Flintrock” \c 4}

Now when you generate, Word will put the citation into the correct category.

One more tip — and this one is CRITICAL:  Before you generate the TOA, or regenerate any portion of it, turn off “Show / Hide” (in other words, change from “Show” mode to “Hide” mode). Just click the icon for the paragraph mark in the top row of the Paragraph group on the Home tab in recent versions of Word, which should hide the TOA codes and all of the non-printing characters.  Or, if you prefer a keyboard shortcut, you can use Ctrl Shift * — i.e., Ctrl Shift plus the number 8 at the top of your keyboard — to toggle between Show and Hide.

The reason you must change to “Hide” mode is that if you don’t do so, the page numbers in the generated TOA might not be accurate. And that is because the codes, when displayed, take up so much room in the document that they can — and frequently do! — temporarily bump citations down to a different page. With the codes hidden, you can generate or regenerate the TOA secure in the knowledge that the page numbers accurately reflect the location of all of your cites.

I hope this tutorial about editing TOA codes saves you time and effort!

[1] As should be obvious, this is a fictional case.


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