I’ve noticed a few folks tweeting about their keyboard shortcuts for legal writing symbols, likely related to this new keyboard for lawyers. Seriously! If you’re not already using custom keyboard shortcuts in MS Word, you should be. Here’s one way to easily insert commonly used symbols into your legal writing (if you use MS Word):
1. Pull up the “Symbol” window as if you’re going to insert a symbol. Here, I’m pretending to create a shortcut for the symbol μ, because my imaginary law practice includes many briefs involving the coefficient of friction.
See how the “Shortcut key” is assigned as “Alt+0181”? What the heck is that? Well, we can change it by clicking on the “Shortcut Key” button.
2. That pulls up a separate window, which lets us assign a new shortcut key. Just put your cursor in the “Press new shortcut key” window and press whatever key combination you want to insert your symbol.
3. For μ, you might choose Alt-m, since that’s easy to remember. However, you need to make sure you’re not overwriting an already-existing shortcut. Double check to ensure that your shortcut is not already assigned to some other task or symbol. You don’t want to eliminate your Ctrl-F find functionality, for example. Here, it looks like we’re safe.
4. You can also create shortcuts for things like em dashes by using the “Special Characters” tab.
And that’s it. The specific tasks of setting up an em dash shortcut or a section sign shortcut are left as exercises for the reader. Enjoy!