Easily Create a Table of Authorities for a legal brief with Microsoft Word

posted by Michael R. Fortney  |  Sep 29, 2014 1:43 PM in Employment Law

As a fresh law school graduate I remember well what we did and did not learn in law school. Writing was very high on the list and was a subject taught, at least in some regard, in every single law school class I took. 

However no one, including my legal writing professor, spent much, if any, time on formatting. We did spend some time on basic formatting (double spacing, underlining, using the spacebar key), but not nearly as much as I think would really benefit future lawyers. Like most law school students I spent a lot of time searching through tutorials on how to put Microsoft Word to better use. There was a problem that I kept running into though, these tutorials either do not exist or are hidden within the walls of the large firms who create them (for fear that if they got out the other firms would gain a competitive advantage). So instead of having information, such as how to create a table of contents in Microsoft Word, available to law students so we can focus on honing our writing skills, law students have to search for tutorials on how to create a brief that lack the information they really need. 

Every legal tutorial on the internet is on the things learned in legal writing class: never use passive voice, make sure your headings tell the story, avoid legalese, and whatever you do avoid block quotes at all cost. 

Someone needs to create tutorials on actual brief construction and how to use Word to do this. This can and should change everything in the legal community, from making briefs more uniform and thus evening out the legal system, to giving legal writing professors a short guide they can show to students so the students don't have to spend hours searching the internet instead of practicing their new craft. This is what I intend to do. 

Our prjoect today is using the Mark Citation function to create a Table of Authorities for a legal brief using Microsoft Word. For this project I am using Microsoft Word 2007, but the steps are the same for 2010 and 2013. After using this tutorial you can use my next tutorial to learn how to Create a Table of Contents for a legal brief with Microsoft Word

For this project I am using a sample brief found on the website for Ohio's 12th District Court of Appeals. For our purposes I removed the Table of Contents from the sample brief and otherwise left the brief alone. Our final Table of Contents will not look exactly the same as the Table of Contents in the sample brief, as that is not what this exercise is about. I am merely using that sample brief so I do not have to use a real brief, which raises ethical questions. 

Here is what the brief looks like right now. 

Easily create a table of authorities for a legal brief with Microsoft Word, first 2 pagesFirst 2 pages

Easily create a table of authorities for a legal brief with Microsoft Word, p. 3-4Pages 3-4

Easily create a table of authorities for a legal brief with Microsoft Word, last pageLast page. 

1. Our first step is to find an authority in the document that calls for a citation. The first authority in need of a citation in this brief is the R.C. 4511.19 cite. Since both Sections (A)(1) and (A)(3) are cited I am simply going to insert the highlighted part, R.C. 4511.19, into the Table of Authorities. You can choose to insert both citations if you like. Whatever text you highlight here is what Word will consider the long citation form for that authority. As you will see, after an initial long-form citation is marked in Word you may add additional short-form citations to it so that Word knows what authorities appear on which pages. 

Easily Create a Table of Authorities for a legal brief with Microsoft Word, first cite

2. Once we have the text selected using the mouse or cursor we want to navigate to the References tab and then click on the Mark Citation button. 

Easily Create a Table of Authorities for a legal brief with Microsoft Word, mark citation

3. Next we want to make sure that we are citing the authority to the proper category. As you can see the default category of "Cases" is selected here. However, an R.C. citation is not a case. 

Easily Create a Table of Authorities for a legal brief with Microsoft Word, change category 

4. Since the category is not correct we need to change that category to Statutes and then click the Mark button. 

Easily Create a Table of Authorities for a legal brief with Microsoft Word, mark citation with arrow

After hitting Mark you will notice that the document has changed dramatically. After marking a citation Word turns on the function to show paragraphs and other functions. This is helpful later on when you want to make sure you have marked all of your citations, but it is confusing to us right now so we should turn it off. 

5. To turn off the Show Paragraphs function we need to navigate back to the Home tab and simply press the button to turn off the function. 

Easily Create a Table of Authorities for a legal brief with Microsoft Word, turn off paragraph marker

6. Once that is done we need to mark our next citation. Our next citation is really the other cites to R.C. 4119 but we are going to go to the Complaint cite in the same paragraph instead. My reasons for doing this are as follows. The only reason to mark a citation multipltimes is if you know or believe that the citation will appear on multiple pages in your document. Here the citation for R.C. 4119 onl appears in this paragraph on this page, so marking the citation over and over is a pointless exercise. Later on we will see how to mark citations multiple times so the Table of Authorities can properly list all the pages which an authority appears. 

As I said our next citation is the Complaint citation. Again we have to select the text, then click Mark Citation on the References tab. Again the Mark Citation window will open. This time I am changing the category from Statutes to Other Authorities.

Easily Create a Table of Authorities for a legal brief with Microsoft Word, mark complaint

 

7. Next we are going to Mark the Citation for the Motion to Suppress. Again we want to highlight the whole citation, minus the page numbers, 

Easily Create a Table of Authorities for a legal brief with Microsoft Word, motion to suppress

We again click Mark Citation. The category should still be on Other Authorities, so we simply click Mark. 

8. Next we are going to highlight a case name and do a case citation. Our first case is the Erickson case. We want to highlight the case, then click Mark Citation on the References tab. We then need to change the category from Other Authorities back to Cases. Then we click Mark. 

Easily Create a Table of Authorities for a legal brief with Microsoft Word, mark a case

9.You can continue to mark all the cases until we get to an authority that has another citation. 

10. One of the authorities that appears multiple times and on multiple page numbers in my sample brief is the Motion to Suppress. The Motion shows up again on page 3. In order to associate this or any other authority with its long citation that you have already marked you need to follow the same first steps. First select the text, and then click Mark Citation on the References tab. Next make sure the category is correct. Then scroll down on the list of citations until you find the long-form cite that this short-form cite should match up with. Click on the long-form cite and then click Mark. Word now knows that this citation appears on multiple pages and will show as much in the Table of Authorities. 

Easily Create a Table of Authorities for a legal brief with Microsoft Word, mark motion

11. Next we are going to do the same thing with the Moeller case. Select the text, then click Mark Citation. Make sure the category you have selected is correct. Then scroll down until you find the long-form citation. Click the long-form citation and then click Mark. 

Easily Create a Table of Authorities for a legal brief with Microsoft Word, adding moeller

11. Next we are going to insert a page break after the caption so we can then insert the Table of Authorities. To insert a page break simply click the cursor anywhere below the captio, but on the same page as the caption. Then click on the Insert tab and click Page Break. 

Easily Create a Table of Authorities for a legal brief with Microsoft Word, page break

12. Now that the cursor is at the top of the next page we are going to insert the Table of Authorities. Click back to the References tab and then click Insert Table of Authorities near the Mark Citation button. 

Easily Create a Table of Authorities for a legal brief with Microsoft Word, insert table of authorities

13. Next a window will appear. We want all of the authorities we marked to appear in the Table of Authorities so we are going to check All on the category and then click the OK button. 

Easily Create a Table of Authorities for a legal brief with Microsoft Word, insert table 2

14. The Table of Autorities is now in the document and you can see that the Moeller case and the Motion to Suppress both appear on multiple pages.

Easily Create a Table of Authorities for a legal brief with Microsoft Word, table in

15. When you insert a Table of Authorities it is formatted the way Word wants it formatted. I would like to change this to be double spaced though. So I am going to click on the Table of Authorities, which highlights the entire Table (if it does not you can simply manually highlight all the text in the Table), and then I click on the spacing button on the Home tab to change the Table of Authorities to double spaced. 

Easily Create a Table of Authorities for a legal brief with Microsoft Word, double space

16. I just realized that I did not have the Table of Authorities on a separate page from the brief itself, which most courts require. This is a good learning moment though. First I am going to make the Caption and the Table of Authorities appear on their own pages i and ii. Then I make the rest of the brief start at page 1 and continue (if you don't know how to do this you can actually find tutorials on this subject on the internet). Now that we have done that the page numbers are not right and Microsoft, as intuitive as it is, does not figure this out unless we tell it to look for changes. To do this we need to right click on the Table of Authorities, anywhere, even on names of authorities, and then click Update Field. 

Easily Create a Table of Authorities for a legal brief with Microsoft Word, first step

And then we can see the finished product with all of the page numbers changed in the blink of an eye. 

Easily Create a Table of Authorities for a legal brief with Microsoft Word, finished

There you have it, everything you need to know to create a Table of Authorities in your brief. I hope this tutorial was informative and helps you create better briefs in the future.

Make sure to check out my other articles including this one on how to create a Table of Contents in Word. Thanks for reading. 

 

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