What to do if you forgot to save your work and the Recovery menu doesn’t appear

Oh no! Did you forget to save that Word 2013 document or Excel 2013 spreadsheet? It may not be lost if you know where to look, and the process is very similar for both programs. The first step is to restart the program. This should prompt the Document Recovery menu to appear.



From the Document recovery menu, you can open, save, or delete the files. If the document recovery pane does not appear, there’s still one thing left to try.  Under the “File” tab, click “Open” and then click “Recent Documents.” Scroll to the bottom of all of your recent documents, and you will see a button that says “Recover Unsaved Documents” (in Excel, it will say “Recover Unsaved Workbooks”).



A menu will pop up with all your unsaved files.


Find the document you are looking for, open it, and then save it right away. If you can’t find the document there, but haven’t given up hope, there are more methods to try on this support page: https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/kb/316951 The article also provides steps for locating missing files in older versions of Word.

Restrictions and Permissions Settings for Editing a Microsoft Word Document

Do you need to share a word processing document with someone but want to limit what text the recipient can edit? For instance, would you like to create a pre-approved contract that allows some clauses to be editable? Or do you have standard internal documents that you would like to make available to everyone but limit editing of certain portions? Did you know that, unlike PDF creation tools that only allow a user to apply copy, print and edit restrictions to the whole document, Microsoft Word gives the document creator a number of granular editing restrictions?  Just go to the Review tab and click on “Restrict Editing”  in the “Protect” group.

Restrict Editing toolbar

To apply editing restrictions in Microsoft Word 2010 or 2013 open the “Review” tab and click on “Restrict Editing” in the “Protect” group. This will open a new pane with two restriction options. If your firm makes extensive use of Styles and templates the first option “Formatting restrictions” may be of interest because you can keep others from changing formatted Styles, which includes auto-numbering, table of authorities and citations.

Exceptions to Read Only

The other restriction option is “Editing restrictions”. Check the box and then choose from the drop down menu to limit use of the document to track changes, add comments, or fill in form fields (see how to turn a MS Word document into a fillable form in our How To… Automate Functions in Word 2013 video). The last option in the drop down menu is “No changes (read only)”.

If you select to restrict a document to “Comments” “Filling in Forms” or “No changes (Read only)” another option appears, which is to allow exceptions to the editing restrictions. Simply select text in the document that you will allow users to have full editing rights to.  Click “Everyone” allow people to edit the selected sections.

Finally, click “Yes, Start Enforcing Protection”.  You will be prompted to create a password and confirm it. If you skip this step anyone who has access the document can stop enforcement of protections.

highlight editable regions

After you start enforcement anyone who opens the document (including you until you enter the password and stop enforcing protection) will be restricted to commenting, filling in forms, or merely viewing the document EXCEPT the portions that they have full edit rights to, which are highlighted for them.

Now that you know you can do this, I bet you can find some reasons to put it into action!

Manage Your Excel Spreadsheet with a Table

If you’re working with a list of data, you can turn it into a Table.  Excel gives you some features that make manipulating this data much easier. Your column headings will always be visible, and your rows are now formatted with alternating, colored ledger lines (like a checkbook register), which makes your data easier to see. Each column now has the AutoFilter dropdown menu. You can use AutoFilter to filter or sort columns of your data. It will sort everything all together at once, so you don’t run into the common problem where you sort one column, and then everything is no longer corresponding to the cells around it.


To convert your data into a Table, select your data. On the Home tab, under the Styles group, select “Format as Table” and choose the table formatting that looks best to you.



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Now that you’ve converted your list into a Table, you’ll see that the Ribbon has now given you a new tab called Table Tools Design. You can check “Total Row” in the Table Styles Options group. When checked, a row will appear at the bottom of your data that calculates different totals you can toggle for sum, average, and count.

To take advantage of the AutoFilter feature, scroll up to the top with the column labels. Click the dropdown arrow of the column you want to sort. In my this case, I will sort the Date Opened column.


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As you can see in the dropdown menu, I can sort Oldest to Newest or the opposite, but what’s cool is that I can quickly check and uncheck the months. If I only want to see what happened in November, I just uncheck October and December and now my table is only showing November.


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If I want to see October and December data again, I just go back to the dropdown menu and recheck the boxes. Nothing’s been lost!


You can go back to a regular Excel range by clicking “Convert to Range” in the Tools group of the Design Table Tools ribbon.


For my example, I am using a spreadsheet of 140 pro bono clients that are in nine clinics. You can get a copy of this spread sheet to fiddle around with yourself here: https://excelesquire.wordpress.com/2015/07/19/analyze-matter-data-with-pivot-tables/

Quickly Change Letter Casing in Microsoft Word

It was there all along, but you may not have noticed it: the capitalization menu in Microsoft Word.


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Quickly change the casing in any word document by highlighting the selected text, mousing over to the Change Case menu and click the dropdown menu.


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You can select sentence case, lower case, upper case, capitalize each word, or try the odd toggle case. Simple and no more retyping.

Use Ctrl+F to Search Data with Ease

If you’re confused about what CTRL+F is, you are not alone – according to Dan Russell, a search anthropologist at Google, 90% of people do not know how to properly use CTRL+F to locate a word in a document or on a webpage. This tool will save you time and the embarrassment of missing a keyword or phrase that should’ve been replaced. Whether you are using your browser or your word processor, CTRL+F will speed your work up immensely.

Ctrl+ F works wherever you are: web browsers (Google Chrome, Firefox, Safari, etc.) word processing programs (Microsoft Word, WordPerfect, etc.), or  PDFs viewers like Acrobat Reader. Pressing the keyboard keys “CTRL” (“Command” on a Mac) and “F” at the same time will help you find any specific phrase, clause, or word you are looking for by typing them into a box that appears on your screen. The “find” box may appear in different locations on the screen depending on which program you are using – but it will always appear.

In A Web Browser

When searching through an online document or a webpage for specific mention of a word, phrase, or number, CTRL+F can save a lot of time. Simply press the keys CTRL and F and enter the desired term, phrase, number, word, or clause into the Find box that appears. In Internet Explorer your search term will be highlighted and each time you select “Find Next” the search will move through the document highlighting the usage of the designated word, number, or phrase.


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For instance, say you need to find the contact information for a specific judge in the Criminal Division of the Circuit Court of Cook County, but you only know that his first name is John. Go to the court’s website listing of judges in this division, and then you can use CTRL+F to accelerate your search. Enter “John” in the search bar and press <Enter>. The search will bring you directly to any mention of “John” on the page. Pressing <Enter> again will bring you to the next entry of “John” on the page if there is one.

In Microsoft Word

When working in Microsoft Word, CTRL+F opens the Navigation pane and you can search for a word, phrase or number. You will see all of the instances of your search term appear in the Navigation pane with the word in bold and can quickly jump to that portion of the document. Take it one step further and use the Navigation pane to find a word or phrase – and then replace it! From the Navigation pane click on the “carat” (arrow) to open a toolbar with more options, including Replace.


For example, the client’s total damages have increased and a complaint must be updated before filing suit. Rather than locating each time the initial damages are mentioned within the complaint by scrolling through the document, you can quickly make the corrections by using CTRL+F. Just key CTRL+F,  type in the original dollar amount, click on the carat to show Options and click on Replace. The original amount will appear in “Find What”. You can then add the updated amount in the “Replace With” field. If you want to replace any incident of the number, phrase, or word in the “Find What” field, select “Replace All.”


There may be cases where you do not want to “Replace All” but only “Replace” some. For example, a brief cites Wickard v. Filburn in several locations, however sometimes the citation is not as appropriate as that of say, Horne v. Dept. of Agriculture.

“Replace All” would not work in this example because the initial phrase of “Wickard v. Filburn” would still apply in many of its uses. Instead, select “Replace” and let the find feature bring you through the entire document. When you find items you would like to replace, select “Replace” again; when you find items you want to leave as is, select “Find Next” and move on.



Once you get comfortable using CTRL+F in your searches and writing, you’ll wonder what took you so long to learn this important skill.

Set an Out-of-Office Reply for Better Client Communication

Thanks to modern technology client communication is easier than ever before. It is also a good reason to set realistic communication boundaries with your clients.  If you plan to be out of the office, whether for an extended period at court, at a retreat, or on vacation, you can set reasonable client expectations with help from your out-of-office reply. You can do this in both Microsoft Outlook and Gmail.

To set an out-of-office reply in Microsoft Outlook 2013, click the “File” tab.


You will be brought to the “Info” section by default. On this screen, click “Automatic Replies (Out of Office).”


The “Automatic Replies” box will now appear. Check “Send Automatic Replies,” and specify a set time and date range by selecting the “Only send during this time range” check box. The Automatic Reply will run only until the date you set and you will not have to remember to turn the feature off. Then set the “Start time,” and then set the “End time.”


In the “Inside my organization” tab, type the message that you want to send within your organization (those who share your domain). In the “Outside my organization” tab, type the message that you want to send outside your organization. You can make it the same message if you prefer by copying and pasting.

Click OK.

If you did not select a date range for your message to expire, you will have to go back into File à Info à Automatic Replies (Out of Office) and check the “Do not send automatic replies” option when you return.


For Gmail the process is a bit different. Sign in to Gmail, and click the gear icon in the upper-right corner. A drop-down menu will appear. Select Settings.


On the “General” tab, scroll down to “Vacation responder” and select “Vacation responder on.”

Enter the start day and the last day so that it expires. Unfortunately Gmail does not allow you to specify a time. Enter your subject and body of your message.


If you’ve enabled a personalized signature in your settings, Gmail will automatically append it to the bottom of your vacation response.

Click Save Changes.

While the vacation responder is enabled, you’ll see a yellow banner across the top of any Gmail page, displaying the subject of your vacation response. To stop Gmail from automatically sending the response, click “End Now” within the banner. You can edit the reply by selecting “Vacation Settings” in that same banner.


Out-of-office messages aren’t just for vacations. You can use out-of-office messages to establish working hour boundaries, or simply as an auto-reply to send any information to any in-bound email messages. Also, keep the message brief. There is no reason to provide more detail other than the dates you are away, whether you will be checking email during that time, and an alternate contact at the firm if available. It’s nice to be able to unplug for a little while, and this way your clients don’t feel in the dark.

Never Miss a Message with Outlook Search Folders

One of the biggest problems with email is that not everything that comes to your inbox is of equal importance. Email from certain clients needs to be addressed right away; messages from co-counsel need to be referred to repeatedly, yet all of this correspondence gets buried under a barrage of e-newsletters and less important correspondence. Outlook “Search Folders” solves this problem. With Outlook “Search Folders,” specified emails are always available no matter where the emails are located (folders, inbox, sent mail). Microsoft by default creates generic search folders such as “Unread mail” and “mail flagged for follow up”. Users can customized more search folders by following instructions to create “Mail from and to specific people,” or “Mail from specific people”. However, the most powerful and useful search folders are likely to be custom search folders. Here’s how to create them:


In Mail, click “Search Folders.”


Click New Search Folder, and a new window will appear. From the “Select a Search Folder” list, you can select several default options, like “Unread mail,” “Mail from and to specific people,” “Mail from specific people” and “Mail sent directly to me.” To create a Custom Search Folder scroll towards the bottom and select ” Create a custom search folder” and then select the “Choose” button.



In the window that appears, type a name for your custom Search Folder, and click Criteria, and then select the options that you want.



The Messages tab contains criteria on the message content or properties, such as sender, keywords, or recipients.



The More Choices tab contains criteria on other message conditions, such as importance, flags, attachments, or categorization.



Enter in your specific criteria, and then press “OK.” You’ll see the new Search Folder listed below “Search Folders,” but you can drag it under “Inbox” or add it to “Favorites” by right clicking and choosing “Show in Favorites” in the menu so that the search folder is always at the top of your screen.

How many days do I have again?

It’s hard to calculate how many days are between a certain day and another, especially if they are far apart. If your deadline to file a motion is 60 days before your hearing date on October 12th, 2015, what date is that? Luckily, there are several ways to determine that calculation. We’re going to cover Excel, Outlook, and a web tool called Timeanddate.com.

If you frequently need to keep track of court calendar deadlines, services like Deadlines.com (formerly Deadlines on Demand) or Juralaw (if you practice in Illinois) can keep the dates straight for a price. There are several ways to count how many days for free, however, and best of all you can use these tricks for all your deadlines—not just court specific ones.


The first is with Excel. In cell A1 type the date of your hearing: 10/12/2015. In cell B1 type “=A1-60” and hit enter. Excel will calculate the date automatically, changing the cell contents to say “8/13/2015.” If the date of your hearing changes, replace the date in cell A1 and the date of your filing deadline will automatically change with it.

excel screenshot


To find out if that date falls on a weekend, click cell B1, go to the cell formatting drop down menu under the Home tab and select “Long Date.”

long date excel spreadsheet


The cell data will change to tell you what day of the week 8/13/2015 is. In this example it is Thursday, but if it were on a weekend you could adjust your deadline as needed.

If you don’t have Excel handy, you can also add or subtract a date on the web. Timeanddate.com has several different calendaring calculators. Use their date calculator to add or subtract from a date. Still using the example of 60 days until your hearing date on 10/12/2015, enter 10/12/2015 as your start date. Select “(-) Subtract” from the dropdown menu, and enter “60” under “Days.”


Press “Calculate new date.” The result will be “Thursday, August 13, 2015.” Timeanddate.com also features calculators to determine the number of days between two dates, time duration between exact times and finding the week number of any date.

Finally, there’s Outlook.

Enter the October 12, 2015 hearing for your client on your calendar. After the appointment is on your schedule, bring up the Go To Date box by right clicking the date (or typing Ctrl – G if you’re a keyboard shortcuts person).

hearing for my client

In the box that appears, place your cursor before the date and type “60 days before”

60 days before

Press OK, and you will be brought to August 13, 2015, where you can now enter a new event for your motion filing deadline. You can also find out dates in the future by typing “x days after.”