Table of Authorities and OpenOffice–How-To

This morning I was griping about operating systems, and I mentioned that I would like to use Linux, but OpenOffice seemed a limiting factor in that decision, because of the near impossibility of easily generating a Table of Authorities. Well, after playing around with the latest version, 3.0, available here, I can firmly state that I have generated a Table of Authorities, and it wasn’t as hard as I thought it might be. It’s not quite as simple as using Word or WordPerfect, but, let’s be honest, it’s not like those programs were really that easy to learn and use; we’re just more used to them.  The “How-To” is after the jump.

I don’t know about you, but I prefer to do my ToA at the end, after I’ve written the brief, so my experiment reflects that. You might be different, not wanting to leave anything to chance. It should work, regardless of how you approach doing the ToA. So, let’s take a look at a fake brief I’ve written up (note, I always choose to see all paragraph markings, hidden characters, field shadings, et cetera):

Next, highlight the text you want in your ToA, and then go to the “Insert” menu tab, find “Indexes and Tables,” and then choose “Entry…” from the expanding menu:

You will see, in the dialog box, a little box with a green plus sign, and some lines:

Go ahead and select it, and type in the word “Cases,” as I have done:

Then, click on the box that says “Apply to all similar texts,” press the “Insert” button, and then “Close.”

You will now see that Bob v. Chuck has been highlighted in gray. It isn’t fool-proof. It’s not going to find your short-cites, for example, but then again, I never could get MS Word to do that for me reliably, either. In any event, you now have the ability to highlight the cases you want in your ToA, and then mark them as “Cases” in the New Entry dialog box. Repeat those steps, creating new user-defined entries for statutes, other authorities, rules, et cetera. Now, we’re ready to create the ToA at the beginning of the document, and this where it’s a little brutish. Heretofore, creating new index entries has been rather like we’re probably used to. But actually generating the ToA in OpenOffice is a multi-step process.

Anyway, go to the top of your document, and select where you want to place your ToA. Then, go to “Insert,” select “Indexes and Tables,” and then choose “Indexes and Tables.”

You get a dialog box that looks like this (I’ve already clicked on the drop-down box for “Type”):

Go ahead and select Statutes, and you will see that the “Title” goes from Table of Contents to “User-Defined Index.” You will also notice that the radio button for “Outline” disappears. Change the Title from “User-Defined Index” to “Statutes,” and then uncheck the box where it says “Protected against manual changes”; if you’re like me, you’re always needing to fiddle with things inside the ToA, anyway. Check to make sure that the preview panel on the left shows “Statutes” at the top and “User Directory Entry” below it. Then, click “OK.” You should get this:

Repeat the process for the rest of your entries, be they cases, rules, et cetera. NOTE: I don’t know why it does this, because it’s really annoying, but on subsequent index placements, the check box for “Index marks” is turned off, like this:

You need to make sure that you have it checked, or else it won’t enter the things you had spent all that time marking. As you repeat for all your entries, you will eventually get something like this:

You will probably need to do some trimming, and underlining, and consolidation, and sorting using the “sort” tool under the “Tools” menu tab. But I’m happy to report that I was able to generate a passable Table of Authorities in OpenOffice 3.0, a free and powerful office suite, and that means that untethering from Microsoft becomes a more distinct reality every day.