How to Format the Same Appellate Brief with WordPerfect

In How to Format an Appellate Brief, 1 Deborah Savadra shows the steps needed to produce the format of an appellate brief for the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals using the most recent version of Microsoft Word. I had recently done the same thing for the same court using Corel’s WordPerfect, so I read the article and watched the videos with considerable interest. Though the programs do many things similarly, Word requires an absurd amount of work to do some things that are easy in WordPerfect.

This article shows how to format the same appellate brief in WordPerfect and how much easier it is to do so. To reach the same starting point, I stripped out of my template all of the formatting discussed in the article on Word. That starting WordPerfect file can be downloaded by clicking here. Then I followed Ms. Savadra’s steps through the six stages she identifies. Comments on the relative ease appear below.

1. Pagination, simple in WordPerfect, “tricky” (to say the least) in Word

Step One for Word is to create a series of “sections” that Word needs to handle the page formatting. WordPerfect does not need such sections. This is not a trivial difference.

Sections and pagination in Word. For Word,“sections” are needed for this brief because there are three (actually four) different ways that an Eleventh Circuit brief numbers its pages. Since the cover has no page numbering, it is one section. The author lumps into a second section several elements as using roman numerals (though the first element has its own numbering system, and thus needs to be a separate “section”), followed by the main text of the brief as a third section. Eleventh Circuit briefs end with a couple of certificates that need not be paginated, so yet another “section” could be created for them, but they can be paginated with impunity, so no new “section” is actually required.

A seven minute video then shows how to follow up in Word, a process that the video describes as “one of the trickiest you’ll encounter in formatting an appellate brief.” Simply in order to put page numbers centered at the bottom of the page, the Word user has to make some formatting graphics visible and then make some selections that show the current section number at the bottom of the screen. This allows one to see what one is doing. One creates sections by putting the cursor where the “sections” should be divided and by clicking Page Layout | Breaks | Next Page (under the Section Breaks section), which puts a section-break between the sections. Putting the section break into the brief duplicates the page-breaking function of existing page breaks, so the page-breaks had to be deleted. (The author knew where to put the cursor to cause a delete button to pop up; hard-page codes are obvious in WordPerfect’s reveal codes.) The user must then click the footer area of the second “section” to insert a number, but when that happens, an indicator pops up showing that this section has the same characteristics as the preceding section. Since pagination will be added, the user has to break that “link” between sections. One breaks the link by going to a newly-appearing “Design” tab, and then to its “Navigation” section, and then clicking the “Link to Previous” item in order to disable it. Now, we’re finally ready to insert the page number by going back up to “Design” and then over to “Page number” on the left, then use the drop-down to select “Current position,” and finally click “Plain number.” That inserts a number in the footer which “may be the wrong number or the wrong format, but don’t worry, that’s fixable.” If it needs fixing, select it, go back up to “Page Number,” and then click “Format Page Numbers.” Then a dialog box appears with different numbering formats and starting numbers; make the changes and click OK. Then repeat for each new “section.”

While going through these steps, I wondered several times whether this was supposed to be a parody of Word. Apparently not.

WordPerfect’s simple approach. WordPerfect does not need sections, and it isn’t “tricky” at all. Where one needs to change the pagination system, one simply applies a page format command with the cursor anywhere in the page where Word needs a new “section” to begin. The resulting pagination will continue in effect until the next such code appears, or until the end of the document.

The steps are simple. Where a new “section” would begin in Word, the WordPerfect user simply pulls up the pagination dialog box by clicking Format | Page | Numbering. 2 The user will select one of the standard numbering schemes in a listbox, such as roman or arabic (or create a custom numbering scheme), and then set the page number at 1 (for this brief anyway) with the “Set Value” button. The default location is (I believe) bottom, center. So click OK, and you’re done. No “sections” needed, just a few mouse clicks (usually 8 for everything), and just one trip to a dialog box, not a scavenger hunt with ribbons and dialogs. The whole thing takes about ten seconds per “section.”

The entire process is shown on the page, Paginating an 11th Circuit Brief in WordPerfect. Going beyond the Word video, this page shows how to create the custom pagination for the Certificate of Interested Persons that the Eleventh Circuit requires. And that turns out to be a pretty simple process too.

Word revisions and retraining. One more thing before leaving this “section” of Word. The web site has an alternative video for doing this same process in the 2010 version of Word, which means that Microsoft has changed this “tricky” process in the last few years, presumably requiring more training. WordPerfect has applied the same consistent approach since forever. Users got all the training they needed 25 years ago, and it should last another 25 years.

2. Heading styles - some differences

Though the two programs implement their styles interfaces a bit differently, the rationale and recommendations for setting heading styles in appellate briefs appears basically the same for both: (1) Defining them in advance allows the user to apply a consistent style to headings with a click or two (or in WordPerfect’s case, two or three keystrokes). (2) Changing that style will change all headings that use it immediately. (3) Heading styles are pulled into the automatic table of contents (almost) automatically.

No “normal style,” just document settings. There are a few noteworthy differences between the two. Instead of the separate “normal” style that Word uses, WordPerfect sets defaults for the document under File | Document | Current Document Style, where formatting selections apply to the main text, footnotes, and other “substructures.” Though the WordPerfect defaults may be the functional equivalent of Word’s “normal” style, and it is called the “current document style,” WordPerfect does not treat it in all respects as a style. For instance, it is not listed as a selection in the list of styles in the property bar.

Footnote text size. When it comes to footnotes, this difference gives WordPerfect an edge. Setting the font and font size in “current document style” (or the “default font” menu item above it) will cause the main text and footnotes to have the same font and size, as the Eleventh Circuit requires.

To see the simple steps in WordPerfect, click Changing the default text size in WordPerfect.

Changing the size of footnotes in Word, by contrast, takes more work. By default, Word makes footnote text smaller than main text (a reasonable default in many contexts, but not here), so additional steps are needed to change it. Apparently, Word’s footnote text style is “deliberately hidden,” so the user must click a “launcher arrow” to bring up the “Styles Pane,” on which one clicks the “Manage Styles” button to get a “Manage Styles” dialog, on which one deselects a box that limits the styles displayed to “recommended” styles. Then the “footnote text” style will appear as an item in the list of all styles. Select it, modify it, and save it. All of that is necessary simply in order to have the same font size for main text and footnote text.

It is not inherently a flaw in Word to hide system styles; WordPerfect does the same. But WordPerfect doesn’t regard footnote text formatting as something that should be difficult for the user to alter. (It is also substantially easier to display all system styles in WordPerfect.)

Creating and editing styles. The method for creating and altering styles seems to be similar in the two programs, though implemented differently. While the cursor is inside a WordPerfect style, clicking Format | Styles will pull up the styles dialog box and select the current style. (If the cursor not in a style, the dialog appears, and the user picks a style to modify or apply.) Clicking the Edit button opens another dialog that uses the “Reveal Codes” interface and a menu system like the main window’s menu system for adding/changing format codes, so it is familiar to the WordPerfect user. When the changes are saved, the style is modified and changes appear automatically throughout the document.

As in Word, you can create a style from the current formatting of the main text in WordPerfect, but Word apparently allows the user to modify an existing style to apply the current formatting of the main text. I’m not sure that I would ever want to do that, but it is an advantage for Word.

Fewer styles needed for WordPerfect. For this appellate brief, WordPerfect does not need any particular style for normal headings, like “Statement of the Case.” With the font and font size already set (see above), such headings only need to be in bold and centered in order to look right. The only other addition needed is to mark the heading with a Table of Contents code (see below).

The only styles that I find worthwhile in this appellate brief are the division headings in the argument section, which modify WordPerfect’s Level 1 to Level 5 styles. They automatically number themselves correctly and renumber themselves when divisions are added or removed, and they are placed in the correct position in the Table of Contents.

To see the codes in the template here, use Format | Styles to get the styles dialog box, select the desired Level style, and click Edit. To see these steps, click Viewing argument division heading styles.

3. Writing the brief – some Word pitfalls

The fragility of Word Tables. The author suggests writing the main text of the brief at this point, and deferring the tasks of marking authorities and creating tables of contents and authorities until the brief is nearly done. She recommends it because, due to the way Word works, “moving large chunks of text around or doing major editing with these fields embedded in the brief … risk[s] mangling a Table of Authorities beyond repair.”

Heavens. In WordPerfect, there is no problem with setting up the table of contents and tables of authorities in advance. My template has them set up. The marking of authorities should be reserved for the end of the process only for the pragmatic reason that doing so allows the user to do it in one pass through the document.

Copying and Pasting from other briefs. The author addresses the problem of copying and pasting from other documents, noting that doing so carelessly can copy “various codes that can mess up your current brief.” After copying from the source document, she recommends opening a new blank document and pasting the text there, rather than the current brief. In that new document, one can use the find and replace dialog to remove unwanted codes, and she uses the Table of Authorities and Table of Contents codes as examples for removal.

Pasting directly from one WordPerfect document to another also risks pasting unwanted codes, but the problems of document corruption appear to be an order of magnitude less severe than in Word. When I copy from one brief to another, WordPerfect’s Find and Replace can eliminate the same table codes without needing an intervening document, if it is desirable to do so (it isn’t necessary to do so). Any other unusual formatting codes (usually relating to the font) will appear in Reveal Codes at the point of insertion, so they can be deleted immediately.

4. Table of Contents - the programs are similar

In Word, according to the author, the Table of Contents should only be created after the brief has largely been written. As noted earlier, the Table of Contents can be created at any time in WordPerfect. The process seems to be fairly straightforward in both systems.

Creating a Table of Contents in WordPerfect. In WordPerfect, place the cursor where the table should appear. Click Tools | Reference | Table of Contents to bring up the “Reference Tools” dialog box. Click the “Define” button, and click the number of levels in the table of contents. Up to five are available, though I believe that professionals recommend limiting the number to three.

To see the steps, click Creating a Table of Contents in WordPerfect.

Marking items for a Table of Contents in WordPerfect. To mark a heading (or anything else) to go into the Table of Contents, select it and click Tools | Reference | Table of Contents. Assign it to one of the five levels that can appear in the table by clicking the corresponding button. Or put it into a style. The divisions of the legal argument in my template put those codes into styles.

To see the steps, click Marking for the Table of Contents in WordPerfect. The last slides show how to generate the Table of Contents after marking.

5. Marking Citations - the programs are similar here too

The author says that one cannot create a Table of Authorities in Word at this point, but must wait until citations are marked. That is not the case in WordPerfect. My template has Tables of Authorities already in place. In fact, one should create the Tables of Authorities first, because in marking citations, one will need to assign the authority to one of the tables. (Any assignment can be changed later.)

Creating a Table of Authorities in WordPerfect. To create a Table of Authorities, place the cursor where the table should appear and click Tools | Reference | Table of Authorities to bring up the “Reference Tools” dialog box again. Click “Define,” name your own table or use one of the given names (like “Federal Cases” or “Federal Statutes”), click “Insert,” and “OK.” Add as many different tables as you need, at the places where you need them.

To see the steps, click Creating Tables of Authorities in WordPerfect.

Marking citations. The method for marking citations appears to be similar in both programs. One selects the full citation in the text. If the floating Reference Tools dialog is not already open, open it with Tools | Reference | Table of Authorities; it can stay open while you mark citations. Place the cursor in the “short form” dialog box. WordPerfect automatically puts the first 50 or so characters of the selected text there. Make a unique short form from those 50 characters, or substitute anything else, and click “Create.” 3 A dialog appears in which you can clean up the full citation and assign it to the correct table. Click “Close” and a Table-of-Authority code is created in the WordPerfect document.

As the user goes through the text, the user can see if the authority has already been “created” by looking in the entries in an alphabetically ordered dropdown box at the bottom of this dialog. If so, the user selects the entry in that dropdown box and presses “Mark” to create another code in the text that refers to the same authority. Unlike Word, the WordPerfect user does not need to select the entire citation to create a second or later reference to the same authority.

To see how this looks in WordPerfect, click Marking Authorities in WordPerfect.

According to the article, Word 2016 has changed Word 2010 on this point too, with presumably additional retraining necessary for Word users, while WordPerfect users get to use the knowledge they acquired 25 years ago.

6. Finalizing - basically the same

The brief in Word is finalized by re-hiding all of the codes that should be hidden (they don’t print in WordPerfect), and then the “fields” are updated by pressing F9, which apparently generates all of the tables. In WordPerfect, one presses Ctrl+F9 to do the same thing (or Tools | Reference | Generate).

Later: Making a Template - basically the same

After stripping out the case-specific materials, the Word user creates a template by saving the reduced file with a .dotx extension rather than a .docx extension. In WordPerfect, one saves it with a .wpt extension rather than .wpd.

To get the template in Wordperfect, click here.

It is unclear to me whether the Word template should be saved with a table of contents and tables of authorities. Ms. Savadra asserted that these tables should be created only at the end of the brief-writing process, which suggests that putting them into a template would be problematic. But she also says nothing about stripping them out before creating a template, so perhaps leaving them in a template would not necessarily “mangl[e] a Table of Authorities beyond repair.” In any case, the WordPerfect template should be good to go for another 25 years.