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"Beware the Hidden Costs of Bad Formatting"

Pretty poor reaction to need for increased training given that documents produced by law firms are so important!

"When talking to law firms about training, I often hear the following statements: 'It's so easy, you don't need training'; 'If you can't learn it in an hour, it's not worth knowing'; and my favorite, 'We're getting documents out the door.'

"Law firms often use arguments like those mentioned above to skimp on training. However, there can be real bottom-line consequences to this kind of thinking. Training your users on proper document formatting can mean the difference between a document that will cost your firm unnecessary time, money and productivity and one that won't. For example, you can compare two visually identical 30-page Word documents side by side. They may look exactly the same, but one could require 2 1/2 minutes to make three basic changes while the other takes more than 60 minutes. What makes the difference? Formatting!

"Document formatting is not a sexy topic, but if you run the dollars on how much money it saves, you quickly realize how important a consideration it really is. A document that is poorly formatted [PDF] behind the scenes is full of tabs, hard returns and manual numbering. With these documents, every time text is added or deleted, someone must go into the text and remove tabs, adjust hard returns and page breaks and manually renumber the paragraphs. All formatting is direct formatting so that if the point size for 50 paragraphs needs to be changed, all 50 paragraphs must be formatted."

Good examples of formatting problems are included in the complete article.

Author Roberta Gelb, a member of the Law Technology News Editorial Advisory Board, is also president of Chelsea Office Systems Inc., based in New York.