My new Word 2016 book is now available on Amazon

My new book, Formatting Legal Documents With Microsoft Word 2016, is available on  Not merely an update of my Word 2010 book, it contains many brand-new tutorials (including the ones about creating, generating, and troubleshooting a Table of Contents and a Table of Authorities).

Here is a link to the book’s page on Amazon:  Formatting Legal Documents With Microsoft Word 2016

There is no preview available on the Amazon page.  However, you can view and/or download the Table of Contents by clicking the following link: Word 2016 Book – TOC

Please keep in mind that, like my other two books, this is a publish-on-demand item – meaning that the book will be printed after you order it.  Therefore, it will take somewhat longer to receive your order than if it were a standard book (i.e., one where copies are “in stock” at all times).  I appreciate your patience!

February 9, 2016 at 9:38 am

Office 2016 update (patch) disables customizations

Microsoft recently confirmed that its December 17, 2015 update (patch) for the Office 2016 suite[1] wiped out customizations for some users, including AutoText entries, AutoComplete entries, styles, macros, and similar items.  In particular, customizations stored in the Normal.dotm template (the default template in Word) and the NormalEmail.dotm template (the default template in Outlook) might be – or appear to be – missing.[2]

Apparently, the customizations still exist, but the update changed the name of one or more files where they are stored, so the programs can’t find the file(s).

For more information, see this blurb from Microsoft, which contains a link to a Microsoft Knowledge Base Article that provides step-by-step instructions on how to fix the problem:

Missing autotext, styles, and other customizations in Word 2016?

Here is a direct link to the Microsoft Knowledge Base article that details the resolution:

Missing customizations in Office Word after an update

It appears to be a rather complicated fix, consisting of nearly a dozen steps.  If it makes you feel more comfortable, do some additional research first.  Also, read through all of the steps before starting, and then go slowly!

It’s a good idea to make copies of / back up your Normal.dotm and NormalEmail.dotm templates on a regular basis anyway in case of file corruption or some other problem. The default location for those files is:


With luck, you will be able to make backups before your version of Office 2016 is patched (to build 16.0.6366.xxxx).[3]  If your version is patched later on and you lose your customizations, you can browse to the problematic versions of Normal.dotm and NormalEmail.dotm, rename them (e.g., to NormalBad.dotm and NormalEmailBad.dotm[4]), find your backups, and rename those files Normal.dotm and NormalEmail.dotm, respectively.  CAUTION:  Be sure to exit from Word and Outlook before renaming these templates.


[1]  From what I’ve read, it sounds as though the update that caused the problem was a Windows 10 update, which suggests that only users running Windows 10 are affected.  People have reported problems with both Word 2016 and Outlook 2016.

[2]  I discovered the problem quite by accident after experiencing some odd changes in the behavior of Word 2016 on my Windows 10 laptop.  And after a crash, I noticed that a recovered file was missing my custom styles – so I ended up opening the original file (which still had my custom styles available), copying text that I had added to the recovered file, and then re-saving / backing up the original file.  A good reminder to save frequently, as well as to create backup copies of important documents and to store them in the cloud and/or on external media.

[3]  To determine the build number of your version of Word 2016 (or Outlook 2016), click the File tab, Account (or Office Account).  The build is displayed at right, in the section labeled “Office Updates.”  As for backup copies of Normal.dotm and NormalEmail.dotm, there’s nothing wrong with naming the copies Backup of Normal.dotm and Backup of NormalEmail.dotm.  You might want to include the current date in the file name (Backup of Normal 1-3-2016.dotm, Backup of NormalEmail 1-3-2016.dotm) so that you know when the file was created.

[4]  When I rename a Normal.dotm or NormalEmail.dotm template, I usually use the current date in the name – such as Normal 1-3-2016.dotm or NormalEmail 1-3-2016.dotm.  If the templates are problematic, I put that into the name, too:  NormalBad 1-3-2016.dotm or NormalEmailBad 1-3-2016.dotm.

January 3, 2016 at 2:12 pm

Happy Thanksgiving 2015 – and thanks to you!

Best wishes to all of you for a lovely and restful Thanksgiving.  May you experience the comforts of home, hearth, family, good friends, and a pleasurable repast – and may you never lack those comforts.

On this day when we contemplate the things, tangible and intangible, for which we are thankful, I want to extend special thanks to you:

My wonderful, inimitable friends and family;

My loyal (and often thought-provoking – in the best possible way!) training and consulting clients;

My delightful trainees (who also keep me on my toes);

My colleagues, many of whom are also dear friends;

The folks at the larger training companies who (to my ever-lasting gratitude) continue to provide me with interesting and enjoyable training gigs;

The amazing IT people and in-house trainers who make my work significantly easier – and sometimes send me clients;

Those of you who have bought one or more of my books; and

My faithful blog readers, of course!

(I hope I haven’t forgotten anyone…  if so, it was entirely inadvertent.)

I am incredibly appreciative of your support, assistance, kindness, humor, patience, and constructive criticism over the years.  You are the best!

November 26, 2015 at 10:44 am

Reassigning Ctrl O to “File Open” in Word 2013 and Word 2016

In a recent blog post, I provided instructions for bypassing the so-called Backstage view (i.e., the File tab’s Open screen / menu) when opening a file with Word 2013 or Word 2016.  I suggested using the keyboard shortcut Ctrl F12, which takes you directly to the Open dialog in Windows.  That keyboard shortcut comes in handy because in the latest versions of Word, Ctrl O, the once-standard keyboard shortcut for “Open File,” doesn’t work the same way as in previous versions. Rather than producing the Windows Open dialog, it takes a detour through the Backstage view.  (But note:  If you click File, Options, click the “Save” category, and uncheck “Don’t show the backstage when opening or saving Files,” then click OK, Word automatically reassigns Ctrl O to “Open File.”  That step also changes how the Open icon on the Quick Access Toolbar works so that it, too, goes directly to the Open dialog in Windows.)

I thought it might be useful to write a follow-up post that walks people through the process of reassigning the Ctrl O keyboard shortcut in Word 2013 / Word 2016 so that it behaves as it did (does) in older versions.  Here are the steps:

  • Click the File tabOptions, and when the Word dialog opens, click the Customize Ribbon category at left.
  • Toward the bottom left side of the Word dialog, you’ll see an item labeled “Keyboard shortcuts:  Customize…”  Click the “Customize… button.  The Customize Keyboard dialog will open.
  • At the left side of the Customize Keyboard dialog, under “Categories,” File Tab should be highlighted.
  • Navigate to the right side of the dialog, under “Commands.” Scroll down to FileOpen and click it. [1]   When you click FileOpen, you might notice that some keyboard shortcuts already have been assigned to the command.  (If so, they appear in the “Current keys: box at left.)
  • Click in the “Press new shortcut key” box and press and hold the Ctrl key, then tap the letter O.  (Be careful to press the letter O, not a zero.)
  • Note the message below the “Current keys” box: “Currently assigned to:  FileOpenUsingBackstage.” (This is essentially a warning in case you didn’t realize that the key combination you chose is already assigned to another feature or function.  If you want to retain the original assignment to that other feature or function, you can select a different key combination.)
  • OPTIONAL STEP: Note the “Save changes in” drop-down at the lower left side of the dialog box.  By default, Word will save your keyboard reassignment to the NORMAL template (the one that affects the formatting of a new blank document).  If you have created your own templates and wish to reassign keyboard shortcuts within one of your own templates, you can click the “Save changes in” drop-down and choose a different template.
  • The “Assign” button is now active (no longer grayed out). To proceed with the key reassignment, click the button.
  • Click Close, then be sure to click OK to save your new shortcut.  CAUTION:  If you click the red “X” in the upper right corner to close the Word Options dialog, Word will not save your configuration changes!

Now Ctrl O should bypass the Backstage view and go directly to the Open dialog in Windows.  And now you know how to create your own custom keyboard shortcuts![2]


[1] The item immediately below FileOpen, which is labeled FileOpenUsingBackstage, is the command to which the keyboard shortcut Ctrl O is assigned by default in Word 2013 and 2016.  If you click that command, you will see Ctrl O listed in the “Current keys” box at left.

[2] The trickiest aspect of customizing keyboard shortcuts in Word is figuring out the command names that Microsoft uses for features and functions.  “FileOpen” is pretty straightforward, but for many other commands, intensive brainstorming and/or the patience for seemingly endless scrolling will be required.

November 26, 2015 at 1:23 am 1 comment

Word: What are “points,” anyway?

One of the line spacing options in Word is “Exactly” line spacing, which almost always is configured in points.  In my experience, although many people have heard the term “points,” few have a clear understanding of what it means.

In typography, a point (abbreviated “pt”) is a fixed unit of measurement representing the height of the characters.  (Some of you might know that the term “pitch” represents the width of the characters.)

There are 72 points in an inch.  Twelve (12) points – 1/6 of an inch – is approximately one line.  However, text to which Exactly 12 points line spacing has been applied is more compressed vertically (i.e., more “squished”) than single-spaced text created with the same font.  Likewise, text to which Exactly 24 points line spacing has been applied is more compressed vertically than double-spaced text created with the same font.[1]

You can test for yourself.  Type two short paragraphs that are at least two lines long.  Apply single spacing to one of the paragraphs and Exactly 12 spacing to the other.  Can you see a difference in terms of the height of the characters and how much white space exists between the lines of the paragraphs?  It is even more noticeable if you apply double spacing to one of the paragraphs and Exactly 24 to the other.

When should you use points (i.e., “Exactly” line spacing)?  Typically, you’ll use points only in pleadings (litigation documents) where the text is supposed to align with line numbers embedded in the left margin.  This is a standard requirement for California pleadings (including documents filed in Federal District Court in California), as well as for pleadings in certain other jurisdictions.

For letters, contracts, estate documents, and the like, simple single and double spacing usually work fine.  (However, if you are comfortable working with styles, you might want to create a style that uses single line spacing plus 12 points of After spacing.  Or you can change the default line spacing to single spacing plus 12 points of After spacing.[2]  The 12 points After spacing adds a line of white space after the text of a paragraph so that you can press Enter once, rather than twice, to start a new paragraph two lines below.)

NOTE:  The ideal setup for a California pleading template, in my opinion, involves line numbers that use Exactly 24 point line spacing.  When Exactly 24 point line spacing has been applied to the line numbers, you need to use Exactly 24 points – not actual Double Spacing – for  any “pleading double spaced” paragraphs (my term) and Exactly 12 points – not actual Single Spacing – for any “pleading single spaced” paragraphs (again, my term).

Don’t assume that Exactly 24 points / Exactly 12 points will always work; the spacing of the pleading line numbers can vary from document to document, especially if you are working with pleadings obtained from different organizations.  To determine the correct setting for line spacing (in points) in a specific pleading, you must go into the document’s header, right-click within the pleading line numbers, choose “Paragraph,” and make note of the line spacing – that is, the number of points displayed under Spacing, Line spacing, Exactly.  Your “pleading double spacing” must match that figure; your “pleading single spacing” must be half of the figure.  (Word usually rounds up to the first decimal place, so if your pleading line numbers are set at Exactly 22.75 points and you configure your “pleading single spacing” to be 11.375 points, Word probably will change that figure to 11.4.)

See my blog post, Aligning text with pleading line numbers, for a fuller discussion of this issue.


[1]  For a more in-depth discussion about points, line spacing, and paragraph spacing, see my blog post “Understanding line and paragraph spacing in Word”.  Note that even that post provides a somewhat simplified overview of typographical concepts, which are highly complex.

[2] To do so, open the Paragraph dialog, set the line spacing to Single and the After spacing to 12 pt – making sure that the Before spacing is set to 0 (zero) – and then click the “Set As Default” button at the bottom of the Paragraph dialog.  Word will prompt you to make the setting the default only in the current document or in the template that the document is based on.  Do think twice before changing the default setting in the underlying template.  That might or might not be a desirable outcome.

November 16, 2015 at 4:50 pm 1 comment

Clear paragraph and font formatting in Word

Even if you have been using Word for a long time, you might not realize how easy it is to remove paragraph and/or font formatting from text. This post highlights a few different methods for stripping formatting, all of which work in recent versions up through and including Word 2016.

You can clear paragraph and/or font formatting with the mouse or with keyboard shortcuts.

Using the Mouse

The techniques outlined in this section require just a mouse click or two.

The “Clear Formatting” Icon in the Font Group (Home Tab)

Did you ever notice the icon in the top row of the Font group on the Home tab that looks like a little eraser?  Most people probably don’t even see it, especially in versions prior to Word 2013, where the icon is so pale that it blends in with the background of the Ribbon.  (In the two most recent versions, the eraser has a reddish tint, so it stands out slightly.)  In any case, despite its location in the Font group, that icon – labeled “Clear Formatting” in some versions and “Clear All Formatting” in others – actually can be used to remove both font formatting and paragraph formatting from text.

If you have applied a paragraph style, such as a heading style or block quote, you can strip the style by placing your cursor anywhere in the paragraph and then clicking the “Clear Formatting” icon.  This method won’t clear any font formatting that you have applied directly to text after you’ve applied a paragraph style.  However, if the paragraph style itself incorporates font attributes (e.g., bolding, italics, a size or font face other than the default, etc.), clicking the icon clears those font attributes as well – even if you don’t select / highlight the entire paragraph first.

If you have manually applied a font attribute to some text, you can strip the font formatting by selecting / highlighting the affected text, then clicking the “Clear Formatting” icon.  (If you want to remove font formatting from a single word, just place your cursor somewhere within the word and click the icon.)

What’s particularly useful about this tool is that you can use it to remove both the paragraph style and any “direct” font formatting within a paragraph by selecting / highlighting the entire paragraph, then clicking the icon.  And yes, you can clear formatting from multiple paragraphs by selecting all of them and then clicking “Clear Formatting.”

By the way, it’s super-easy to add “Clear Formatting” to your Quick Access Toolbar (QAT).  Just right-click the icon and choose “Add to Quick Access Toolbar.”  The icon will appear at the right side of your QAT.

The “Clear All” Style in Styles Pane

Another item you might never have noticed is the “Clear All” style at the very top of the Styles Pane.  (To open the Styles Pane, either click the dialog launcher – the small gray square with a diagonal arrow at the right side of the Styles group on the Home tab – or press the key combination Ctrl Alt Shift S.)  This style works exactly the same way as the “Clear Formatting” icon in the Font group on the Home tab.

Incidentally, there’s also a “Clear Formatting” icon on the Quick Styles Gallery drop-down.  (To open the gallery, navigate to the right side and click the arrow with a horizontal line above it – the “More” menu.  The “Clear Formatting” icon appears near the bottom of the menu.)

Using Keyboard Shortcuts

Ctrl Shift N – Apply the Normal Paragraph Style

You might know that positioning your cursor within a paragraph to which a style has been applied and pressing Ctrl Shift N strips out the style and reverts to your Normal (default) paragraph style.  Like the “Clear Formatting” icon, Ctrl Shift N will not strip font formatting unless the font attributes are part of the paragraph style.[1]

Ctrl Q – Clear Manually Applied Paragraph Formatting

The keyboard shortcut Ctrl Q clears direct (manually applied) paragraph formatting.  Typically, that means any attributes applied via the Paragraph dialog, such as indents, line spacing, before or after spacing, widow/orphan control, and the like.  It also applies to justification applied via the Paragraph dialog, the icons in the Paragraph group on the Home tab, or keyboard shortcuts such as Ctrl E (Center) or Ctrl R (Right).  And it applies to tab stops applied from either the Ruler or the Tabs dialog (opened by clicking the button at the lower left side of the Paragraph dialog or by double-clicking the Ruler).

Ctrl Q does not remove paragraph styles (heading styles, block quotes, body text styles, etc.) or font formatting.

Ctrl Spacebar – Clear Font Formatting

Ctrl Spacebar is a handy keyboard shortcut to clear direct (manually applied) font formatting. You can remove font formatting from a single word by placing your cursor somewhere within the word and then pressing Ctrl Spacebar, but more often you’ll select / highlight a larger block of text to which you’ve applied font formatting, and then press the key combination to remove that formatting.

Keep in mind that Ctrl Spacebar does not remove font formatting that is incorporated within a paragraph style.  So, for example, if you are using heading styles that apply boldface and underlining as part of the paragraph style, you can’t strip out the bolding and underlining with Ctrl Spacebar.[2]



[1] In my tests, Ctrl Shift N sometimes did remove manually applied font formatting if I selected the entire paragraph first – but sometimes it didn’t do so.  Therefore, I would say that this keyboard shortcut is not a dependable way to clear both paragraph and (manually applied) font formatting.

[2] You can, however, use Ctrl B / Ctrl U or the icons for bold and underlining to remove those font attributes, then right-click the icon for the style in the Quick Styles Gallery and choose “Update style to match selection,” which will clear those attributes from the style within the current document.  But that’s a topic for a different blog post…

October 26, 2015 at 2:38 pm 1 comment

Three features to customize in Windows 10

When I received my new Windows 10 laptop, the first thing I did was customize it.  My goal in so doing was to increase productivity, and also to make the computer look and feel more like the venerable Windows 7 that remains on my everyday laptop.  (As a software trainer, I need Windows 7, Windows 8.1, and Windows 10 machines in order to emulate my clients’ systems.  My primary laptop runs on Windows 7, in part because that’s the operating system most of my clients have and in part because – as most people probably would agree – Win 7 is a user-friendly, highly stable workhorse.)

Some of the customizations I undertook were quick and easy.  A few required a little ingenuity and/or digging.

What follows is a list of three of the features I customized – some in multiple ways.

Sign In

By default, Windows 10 prompts users to sign in (log in) to the computer with a Microsoft account.[1]   The advantage of doing so is that whatever you do in Windows can be synced with the Web, with OneDrive (Microsoft’s cloud), with the Microsoft Store, and with social media.  In addition, you can take full advantage of the features of Cortana, the new voice-capable search assistant (similar to Apple’s Siri, Android’s Google Now, and Samsung’s S Voice).  And you can use Microsoft’s “lite” mail and calendar apps.[2]

However, even though I have a OneDrive account, I chose to sign in with a local account.   I’d rather not have my entire computer be Web-enabled; I’m not a heavy user of social media; and if I want to search using a personal assistant, I can do so via my cell phone.  Furthermore, if / when I decide to save a document to OneDrive, I have the option of doing so directly from within the application I’m using, such as Microsoft Word or Excel.

You should be able to choose Local Account during the sign-in process, but if you do set up a Windows account and then decide, later on, that you prefer to use a local account, click the Start Menu, Settings, click Your account, and click “Sign in with a local account instead.”  Then follow the instructions for setting up a local account.

Start Menu

Adding, Deleting, Moving, and Resizing Apps / Tiles

By popular demand from Windows 8 users, Microsoft reinstated the much-loved Start Menu in Windows 10.  However, the Win 10 Start Menu differs in significant ways from the one in Windows 7.  For one thing, you can’t change the order of the items on the left side (the most used apps / settings and what I think of as the “core features” – Documents,  File Explorer, Settings, Power, and All Apps).

You can, however, remove items from the “Most used” list by right-clicking any of them, and you can move, delete, and resize the icons (called “tiles”) on the right side of the menu.  To delete a tile, just right-click it and choose “Unpin from Start.”  To move a tile, just drag and drop it.  After deleting tiles for programs or utilities that I probably won’t ever use, I dragged and dropped a bunch of tiles so as to line them up in only two columns – I prefer a narrow, if somewhat long, Start Menu.

I also resized some of the tiles, another right-click option.  “Resize” typically offers at least three choices:  Small, Medium, and Wide.  (Depending on the app, there’s sometimes a fourth choice:  Large.)

Turning Off “Live” Tiles

Because I’m easily distracted, I turned off most of the “live” tiles – the apps, such as Weather, that are linked to the Web and are animated.  To do so, right-click a tile and choose the option to “Turn live tile off.”

Pinning Items to the Start Menu (and/or the Taskbar)

You can add tiles for your favorite programs and utilities to the right side of the Start Menu and/or add icons to the Taskbar.  In fact, you can do so for most of the core features on the left side of the menu, including Settings and File Explorer.  But if you don’t find the item you want to pin to Start or to the Taskbar, click “All apps,” and then either scroll down through the alphabet OR click any of the numbered / lettered headings (0-9, A, C, etc.) to view a sort of index, then click any letter, such as “W,” to take you to the features that start with that letter.

I chose “W” as an example partly because there are a lot of cool features under “W” that you can pin to Start (or the Taskbar).  To name just a few, under “Windows Accessories,” you will find such classic utilities as Sticky Notes, Paint, Notepad, and Wordpad.   Any / all of those features can be pinned by right-clicking.

Creating Desktop Shortcuts

Once you have pinned a program or utility to the Start Menu, it’s easy to create a Desktop shortcut for that program or utility.  Simply drag the tile to the desktop.[3]  The only item for which I was unable to create a Desktop shortcut with this method was the Documents folder (formerly known as My Documents).  I had to open the File Explorer (formerly known as Windows Explorer), then right-click Documents and choose Send to > Desktop (Create Shortcut).

Adding / Renaming Groups

After adding and moving tiles, I decided I wanted a couple of new groups for my tiles, and I wanted to rename the existing groups.  To create a new group, drag a tile up or down until you see a thick horizontal bar, then drop the tile below the bar.  When you point to the bar, you’ll see two thin horizontal lines at the right.  After you click them, you’ll be able to type a name for the group (press Enter to set the name).  To rename an existing group, click the two horizontal lines and type a new name (again, be sure to press Enter when you’ve finished typing).

Finally, I made the Start Menu narrower and slightly shorter by dragging the right border inward and the and top border down as far as possible.  I would have preferred to make the menu still narrower, but couldn’t figure out a way to do so.  Even resizing all of the tiles to “Small” and arranging them as compactly as possible didn’t help.  Oh well.

Launching Programs / Apps / Utilities from the Start Menu

One quick note about tiles while I think of it, mainly for people who have jumped straight from Windows 7 to Windows 10.  You can launch a program / app / utility from the Start Menu by single-clicking it.  The same is true for the icons in the Taskbar.  However, you still have to double-click icons on the Desktop to launch a program / app / utility.

Search / Cortana

Disabling Personalized Suggestions and Reminders

If you have signed in with a Microsoft account, Cortana, the new Search Assistant, can make suggestions based on personal information that you provide and other data that Windows gathers about you.  To disable this feature, click in the Search box or click the Cortana tile in the Start menu, then click the Settings icon – the cog – and click below “Cortana can give you suggestions, ideas, reminders, alerts and more” so that the virtual button is set to “Off.”

Disallowing Web Searching

By default, Cortana will show you search results from both your computer and the Web – even if you have signed in with a local account, rather than with a Windows account.[4]  To configure Cortana to search your computer only, click the Settings icon and click to turn “Search online and include web results” off.

Turning Off “Popular Now”

In addition, Cortana displays a live news feed called “Popular now” or “Popular news.” Again, both because I’m easily distracted and because I use my computer for work / productivity, I turned this feature off.  To do so, click in the Search box or click the Cortana tile in the Start menu, then click the three dots at the top right side of the resulting menu, and click “Hide popular news.”

Search Box vs. Search Icon

Another change I made with respect to searching was that I converted the Search box into a Search icon.  The Search box was taking up too much space on the Taskbar, especially after I pinned my favorite programs and utilities (including the Snipping Tool and the Calculator) to the Taskbar.  So I right-clicked in the Search box – you can get the same menu by right-clicking in any empty space on the Taskbar – pointed to Search, and chose “Show search icon.”  There’s also a “Hidden” option, which will hide the Search box / icon entirely, but I like having the icon on the Taskbar.

BTW, if you do choose to hide both the Search box and the icon, you can still perform a search either by clicking the Cortana tile in the Start Menu OR, as in Windows 8.X, by pressing the Windows key – the one that looks like a flag – and the letter S at the same time (Windows S).

* * * * *

I actually customized a number of additional features in Windows 10.  However, this post should get you off to a good start with the new operating system.  I’ll provide instructions for further Win 10 customizations in one or more future posts.



[1]  If you don’t have a Microsoft account, you’ll need to set one up – and link it to an e-mail address.  

[2]  As it turns out, you can use the “lite” calendar app even if you don’t sign in with a Microsoft account.  I haven’t tried to use the “lite” mail app, since I rely heavily on both Outlook and webmail.

[3]  Note that you don’t have to press Ctrl before dragging (as is necessary in Windows 7 to avoid moving the shortcut from the Start Menu to the Desktop).

[4]  Windows 10 relies on Microsoft’s web search engine, Bing, for its online searches.


October 21, 2015 at 11:56 am 1 comment

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