July 19, 2024

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The Ten Most Popular Office 365 Tips For Lawyers

The Ten Most Popular Office 365 Tips For Lawyers

Office 365 is so very helpful in so many ways, but most of us are really underutilizing its capabilities. Sharon Nelson and Jim Calloway chat with Danielle DavisRoe about ten simple tips for getting more out of your Office 365 experience. Check out Danielle’s LinkedIn post, The Ten Most Popular Office 365 Tips For Lawyers, for insights that will save you time and boost your productivity.

Danielle DavisRoe is a senior consultant at Affinity Consulting Group.

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Intro: Welcome to the Digital Edge with Sharon Nelson and Jim Calloway, your hosts, both legal technologists, authors and lecturers, invite industry professionals to discuss a new topic related to lawyers and technology.  You’re listening to Legal Talk Network.

Sharon D. Nelson: Welcome to the 179th edition of the Digital Edge Lawyers and Technology.  We’re glad to have you with us.  I’m Sharon Nelson, President of Sensei Enterprises an information technology, cybersecurity, and digital forensics firm in Fairfax, Virginia.

Jim Calloway: And I’m Jim Calloway, Director of the Oklahoma Bar Association’s Management Assistance Program.  Today our topic is the ten most popular Office 365 Tips for Lawyers.  Our guest today is Danielle DavisRoe, a Senior Consultant at Affinity Consulting Group, where she focuses on helping legal professionals get more out of the software, they use every day.  She has co-authored legal specific manuals on Microsoft Word, Excel, Outlook and Teams, and produced digital courses on Microsoft Word and Outlook.  So, thanks for joining us today, Danielle.

Danielle DavisRoe: Well, thank you very much.  It’s great to be here with you guys.

Sharon D. Nelson: Well, we’re delighted to have you and I must tell you that I love your first tip, which is stop typing and start dictating documents and emails.  So, it sounds great, how do we do it, Danielle?

Danielle DavisRoe: You can do it from just about any of the Microsoft Office applications, but the two places I find people doing it most often are Microsoft Word and Microsoft Outlook, right?  Because we’re doing documents and emails all day, we’re not doing PowerPoint all day typically unless you do a lot of trial preparation.

You will find that when you’re drafting a document or you have an email up that you’re drafting on your screen, on the Home ribbon, there is a dictate button.  And if you click on it, it’s going to open up a little tiny toolbar and it takes it a moment so be patient with it because it’s out talking to the internet takes it a moment to get going and it’ll let you know that it’s listening.  And once it starts listening, it will start typing everything that you say, which is really pretty fantastic for those of us who prefer not to be typing all day every day.

Jim Calloway: Well, that’s a great tip, Danielle.  In fact, I remember the day that the microphone magically appeared in Word after an update and I clicked on it before they’d even announced it.  I used to be a big user of Dragon Dictate naturally speaking and haven’t turned it on in months now.

Danielle DavisRoe: Well, I’m glad to hear you’ve been using it to replace Dragon.  You know, Dragon has a lot of power built into it.  You can really train it.  Microsoft is getting better and better and better by the day, but it doesn’t have all the training features that Dragon has just yet.  But if you can do more with the technology you already have, that saves you money in the long run.

Jim Calloway: Well, I agree.  Let’s talk about how do we use Office 365 to become better writers?

Danielle DavisRoe: So, they have got an editor in Microsoft Office and it’s been there for a few versions, but for people who have 365, it has some new features that they didn’t have all that long ago, where it’s really looking to replace Grammarly or WordRake for those of you who have those add ins to make you a better writer.  So if you haven’t checked out the editor recently, you’ll want to check it out.  You can find it from the Home ribbon as well and it will do things like look to see how clear your writing is.  Is it concise?  Are you using appropriate formality?  Are your words inclusive?  Are you using consistent punctuations?

So, I would check that out, see if you already have Grammarly or WordRake, if you feel like it could replace those and save you some money.  And if not, maybe it can help you simplify some of your writing and help you trim out some of the legalese that doesn’t need to be there that I think was trained into all of us when we went to law school.

Sharon D. Nelson: Well, that sounds wonderful to me.  That one I’m going to look up too.  I can see this is going to be very useful here.  I know that I hear people talk a lot online about the capabilities of To Do, which I have never used, but I think I probably should be using.  So how can that help me?

Danielle DavisRoe: So, Microsoft To Do is Microsoft’s latest task management software and it has been around for a while.  It’s not brand new, but what is brand new is they are rolling it into Microsoft Outlook.  Now, if you’re one of the people who already has had all of your important buttons in Microsoft Outlook, the ones that allow you to switch between your email, your calendar, your tasks and your people if they’ve moved on you from the bottom left hand corner to the upper left hand corner you’ve got access to To Do, it is the blue checkmark.


Now, if you don’t have access to that yet, you might need to toggle on the coming soon features in the upper right hand corner.  They are slowly rolling it out to everyone.  But it’s going to let you use a much more modern interface for managing your tasks than Tasks and Outlook.  Tasks and Outlook are really powerful, but the interface looks like it crawled out in 1992 and never got updated.  To Do has features like My Day.  If you look at all the research regarding task management, they say that we’re all overwhelmed because let’s be realistic, we have what, 50 things we need to do, 150 things on our task list.  And if you go back to that long list every single time you need to get to your next task, you just get overwhelmed and I don’t know, you decide to go play some game on your phone instead of actually getting work done.

So My Day allows you every day to start over the blank slate and select from your whole task list the three to five things you want to prioritize, which is great.  It also integrates with tasks that are assigned to you in Microsoft Planner if you’re using that, which is Microsoft’s Lite Project Management tool, and integrates with your existing Outlook Tasks.  So, if you’re using Outlook Tasks right now, you can switch over To Do and you won’t lose a single beat.

Sharon D. Nelson: You can just switch over from your task.  You import them into To Do.  Is that what you do?

Danielle DavisRoe: They automatically sync?  If you were to go to To Do and you’re currently using Tasks, all of your Outlook Tasks should just automatically show up there in To Do.

Sharon D. Nelson: Wow, you are a wizard.  I am loving this.

Jim Calloway: Automagically, one of my favorite technology words.

Sharon D. Nelson: It is my favorite word of all time.  Definitely a word.

Jim Calloway: Okay, let’s get a real specific question here.  How can I show multiple months next to my inbox?

Danielle DavisRoe: All right, so I’m a big fan of working from my inbox, but I have meetings all day, every day.  I’m pretty sure I’m not alone there.  And if I have to constantly toggle back over to my calendar in Outlook, I just find it to be incredibly distracting.  So, I like to use the To Do bar in Outlook to show my calendar.  You can find that — if you can’t currently see your calendar on the left hand side of your inbox, if you go up to the View ribbon, there’s a To Do bar button, drop that down and select “Calendar”.  And historically, it’s only allowed you to see one month at a time.  It gives you a little snapshot of what the month looks like, and then it gives you an agenda of everything you have going on during the day, which I love.

But now with 365, if you take the horizontal dividing line between the month view and today’s agenda, you can actually drag and drop that down and show multiple months.  So, if you’re trying to schedule things out months into the future, which I bet many people are, you can drag that down, and then you can click on a day in a future month to easily see what you’ve got going on that day if you’re trying to schedule things over email.

Jim Calloway: Well, I have a feeling that many of our listeners by now have opened up Word and Outlook to play along with the podcast so that’s great, Danielle.  Before we move on to our next segment, let’s take a quick commercial break.

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Sharon D. Nelson: Welcome back to the Digital Edge on the Legal Talk Network.  Today, our subject is the 10 most popular Office 365 Tips for Lawyers.  Our guest today is Danielle DavisRoe, a Senior Consultant at Affinity Consulting Group, where she focuses on helping legal professionals get more out of the software, they use every day.  She has co-authored legal specific manuals on Microsoft Word, Excel, Outlook, and Teams, and produced digital courses on Microsoft Word and Outlook.  Danielle, I confess that I do not use Quick Steps and I feel somewhat guilty about that.  So, tell me what it can do for me.

Danielle DavisRoe: Quick Steps are my all-time favorite feature in Outlook.  They allow you to combine multiple steps that you would manually take into a single step.  So, for example, if you delegate to the same person a lot, and you’ve got a person you delegate to that’s really, really good at handling things.


But you forward the email to them, maybe you type in the email, can you please handle this or something to that effect?  And they’re really good at handling it.  Then you click Send, and then you have to do something with the original email.  Quick Steps can allow you to combine that all into a single click.

A lot of people use Outlook Rules which automatically process email as it comes into your inbox or as you send email.  Quick Steps don’t automatically happen.  You have to select an email and then select the Quick Step and tell it, okay, on this email, I want you to do this thing.  But it can automatically click the forward button.  It can type anyone’s email address in to two or the BCC or the CC.  It can add the body.  It can then click Send if you want, or it can let you edit it.  It can move the original email into another folder, my all-time favorite, it then marks it as red when I do this because I’m really good at moving things over to folders without having to look at it long enough in the reading pane to the market is red.  It can clear any flags.  It can create calendar appointments, it can create tasks, it can apply categories.  A whole bunch of things that you might do to a given email.  If there’s a set of them that you do to the same emails, you can do it with one click.

I want to make sure everyone who uses 365 knows now is they’ve just introduced them recently for the web.  So, if you ever check email on the web, you didn’t used to be able to access your Quick Steps there, and you can now, which I am super excited about.

Jim Calloway: Danielle, let’s discuss the Quick Access Toolbar.  I know it’s a tool that I use a dozen times a day to save me a few seconds every time.  But I understand some people need tof irst figure out how to unhide it.

Danielle DavisRoe: Yeah, the Quick Access Toolbar has been around forever.  But when they updated the user interface recently if you had not already customized your Quick Access Toolbar, perhaps because you didn’t know you could, it’s one of my favorite features, it hid it on you.  And for all new installations of Microsoft Office, it’s going to be hidden by default until they change the setting.  So, if you want to be able to have one, click access to any button in Microsoft Word, for example, although it’s available across all Microsoft Office products, you have to unhide it so you can see it.  And to do that, you need to right click on the “Ribbon” and click on “Unhide” Quick Access Toolbar.  Now, if it says Hide, yours is available, and it’s not hidden, but they’ve hidden it on most people.

Jim Calloway: Well, that’s excellent.  Again, why don’t you elaborate a little bit on this one click to almost anything.

Danielle DavisRoe: Sure.  So, the Quick Access Toolbar is designed to be 100% customized by you.  And so, if you’re in Word, for example, and maybe you’re doing a lot with cross references and bookmarks, I highly recommend creating automatically updating cross references based on bookmarks in your document.  And so, you’re perhaps on the Insert ribbon, inserting those.  But then you’re also working on the Home ribbon because you want your bold and your other features there, and you’re clicking back and forth from ribbon to ribbon.

It gets really irritating really fast.  What you can do is, I have recommend doing this for anything that’s not on the Home ribbon, because most of the time around the Home ribbon, so I would add those buttons from the Insert ribbon in that case to your Quick Access Toolbar and you can do that for anything on the ribbon by right clicking on the button telling it to add your Quick Access Toolbar.

And then you will have access to those buttons regardless of what ribbon you are on.  The Quick Access Toolbar either shows up above your tabs or below the ribbon.  You can change in your options where you want it set, but then you can be on your Home ribbon using all the tools there.  Insert a bookmark, insert a cross reference without having to click on the ribbon.  You can also add in features that aren’t available on the ribbon, like the Paragraph Keep with Next.  You normally have to go into the Paragraph dialog for that.  You can go into your File options to customize the Quick Access Toolbar and add those sorts of settings so then you don’t have to go into your paragraph settings.  Go to that tab, check the Keep with Next button.  You’ll have a single check box that you can just click in the Paragraph.  Click on that and you have much faster access to that setting.

Sharon D. Nelson: I know that you have a tip about collaborating with others in real time.  I know a lot of people would like to hear how to do that.

Danielle DavisRoe: If you save your files into OneDrive, you put them in Microsoft Teams if you’re using Teams or SharePoint.  When someone else open sit up, you’re going to be able to collaborate with them in real time, just like Google Docs.  A lot of people have used Google Docs for that for a long time because they didn’t realize that Microsoft has this capability now.  It will show you in the upper right hand corner who all is in the document.  It will add a little circle for them.  You can hover over them, see more information.


And then it will show you a color-coded cursor in the document to let you know where they’re clicked and as they type, you will be able to see it.  It works really well and if you were using Google Docs to collaborate with others, but you normally use Word because it does a much better job of formatting legal documents, you can now use Word for that.  It’s just a matter of where you stored the document, making that possible.

Sharon D. Nelson: Excellent.  Thank you.

Jim Calloway: Many lawyers use Track Changes, but a lot of lawyers wonder how they can track only their changes in the document.  What’s your tip there?

Danielle DavisRoe: Well, this is a pretty new feature to Microsoft Word.  I’m really excited about it.  When you go to turn on Track Changes, which most people do from the Review ribbon, the Track Changes is a double button where the top half of the button, if you just click on it, it turns Track Changes on and off.  But if you click on the bottom half of the button, there is now two options.  You could either turn on Track Changes for everyone, or you could turn on Track Changes just for me.

So when someone sends me a document and they want me to review it, I turn it on just for me because I inevitably forget to turn it off when I go to send it back to them.  And then they go to make changes based on my changes.  They’re tracking their own changes and it just saves everyone time.  So, the key is to click on the bottom half of the Track Changes button.

Sharon D. Nelson: I did write that one tab too because I didn’t know that.  Click on the bottom half of the button.  It sounds so easy, but if you don’t know it’s there, you don’t use it.

Danielle DavisRoe: Exactly.  That’s the problem with all of these, right?  If you don’t know they’re there, you don’t know to use them.

Jim Calloway: Before we move on to our next segment, let’s take a quick commercial break.

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Sharon D. Nelson: Welcome back to the Digital Edge on the Legal Talk Network.  Today, our subject is the 10 most popular Office 365 Tips for Lawyers.  Our guest today is Danielle DavisRoe, a Senior Consultant at Affinity Consulting Group where she focuses on helping legal professionals get more out of the software, they use every day.  She has co-authored legal specific manuals on Microsoft Word, Excel, Outlook, and Teams, and produced digital courses on Microsoft Word and Outlook.  So I know Danielle that you have a tip about filtering your sheet view without disturbing others in a spreadsheet.  I think I am probably not alone among lawyers who hate spreadsheets, so please tell me how to accomplish this one task, because I need hours of tutoring to do anything constructive with spreadsheets.

Danielle DavisRoe: Yeah, I can tell you.  This one is really easy.  Some things in Excel are not as easy, and this is related to collaborating with others in real time, because what used to happen if you were in a spreadsheet with others in Excel and you were like, oh, I want to filter my data for just mine, right?  Maybe we’re looking at billable hours by attorney, and you’re like, I just want to see mine, and you’d filter it for your name.  All of a sudden, the view would switch for every single other person looking at the spreadsheet, which gets really annoying really fast.

They have added the Sheet View feature that allows you to say, no, not everyone else cares about what I’m filtering for.  And if you go to the View ribbon, there’s a whole Sheet View group.  It is over on the far left.  You can’t miss it, and you can create temporary views.  You can create Save View there, but it allows you to change the filters and the sorting that you’re doing just for yourself.  So, if other people are looking at the data in real time, their view is not affected.

Sharon D. Nelson: Perfect.

Jim Calloway: Danielle, you’ve been known to say that each application comes with some default settings that drive people crazy, and I know Sharon and I agree.  So, what settings should we change to better meet our needs?


Danielle DavisRoe: Well, there’s a whole bunch of them.  I feel like we could talk about that for an hour, but I’m not going to bore you guys for a whole hour.  But one of the most recent ones that’s been causing a lot of people problems, they recently changed a setting on people without telling them to automatically make every single meeting you schedule in Outlook a teams’ meeting, which is great if you use Teams for all of your meetings.  But for people who maybe use something like Zoom, it gets really confusing really fast, because you’ll go to schedule a meeting and you’ll use the Zoom add in, and you’ll make it a Zoom meeting, and then it has both a Teams meeting and a Zoom meeting, and you invite people, and they’re like, oh, where do I show up?  And the Teams button is the easy join button.  Outlook has made it very easy to join Teams meetings, but it gets a very confusing very fast and then it tells people when they change that setting.

So, I recommend going into your calendar settings and just making sure you have that setup for the way that works for you.  Turn it off if you don’t want it on.  Switch it to Zoom.  If you prefer Zoom, just be intentional about it.  But I’ve seen a lot of meetings come into my calendar that has both Teams and Zoom and it’s very confusing because you don’t know where to show up.

Sharon D. Nelson: Yeah, that would be a real problem.  Well, this has been just the most instructive podcast I can remember in a long time.  So, thank you for joining us today, Danielle.  I know that lots and lots of people got lots and lots of information out of this, much more so probably than usual, because you are an absolute fountain of these tips.  So, thank you very much for joining and sharing those tips.

Danielle DavisRoe: Well, you’re very welcome and thank you for having me today.

Sharon D. Nelson: And that does it for this edition of the Digital Edge Lawyers and Technology.  And remember, you can subscribe to all of the editions of this podcast at legaltalknetwork.com or on Apple Podcast.  And if you enjoyed our podcast, please rate us in Apple Podcast.

Jim Calloway: Thanks for joining us.  Goodbye, Ms. Sharon.

Sharon D. Nelson: Happy trails, cowboy.