AppellaTech: Overview of Creating Your Own Electronic Brief

by Derek D. Bauman

Over the course of a number of posts, I've given you instruction on how to automate certain parts of brief writing and how to convert the final draft into a PDF ready for filing. I thought it might be helpful to provide an overview of all of the instructions so you don't have to go searching through the newsletter's archives to find them.

The first thing you need to do to create a good looking brief is set up your paragraph styles so that you can quickly and seamlessly format your block quotes, headings, and all other portions of the brief. If you set this all up in a template file that you use every time you start a new brief, setting up styles is a one-time cost. I devoted two articles to this endeavor. The first covers the basics of setting up styles in a document. The second covers how to set up headers through styles.

Setting up headers in styles is particularly important because it allows you to quickly create and then update a table of contents for your brief. The second article on styles also covers how to do this. As an added advantage, using headers through styles creates correlating bookmarks when you convert to PDF. The second article on styles covers that as well. (Let's be honest, the second article on styles is pretty great.)

So now that you have your template document set up with all of your preferred styles, you're ready to begin writing. And since you're writing an appellate brief, it won't be long until you need to start plugging in legal citations. Did you know there's a really quick way to plug in your citations? You didn't? Lucky for you, I wrote an article on just that topic.

And now that you've plugged in all of your legal citations so quickly, wouldn't it be just grand if you could quickly create a table of authorities that is easy to update every time your brief is revised? You know where this is going, don't you? I wrote an article about that, too! I know!

Most of your heavy lifting on getting your electronic brief ready will take place in your word processor. It is sometimes more useful, however to hyperlink your citations after you have converted the document to PDF. For hyperlinking your record citations, you don't have many options. And none of them are great. Nevertheless, I wrote an article explaining the process for the more determined.

The options for hyperlinking to legal authority is a little better. Not great, but better. This article guides you through the various considerations and links to various instructions on the process.

For at least the near future, this is all I have to guide you through the process. Good luck on your brief writing. I hope I have been able to make the process a little easier for you.