If you follow my twitter stream at all, you know that I am an advocate of Excel. Why? Because it’s simply more efficient and versatile than Word charts and indexes. Yes, I know that Word will allow you to sort data, but beyond that, manipulation of your information is limited.
A couple of weeks ago, I inherited an index of documents that totaled 40 pages – in Word. That wouldn’t have been a problem if I were only searching for a particular document where a simple word find would have sufficed, but it was not. I was trying to organize documents into separate folders based on several attorneys’ “hot docs” classification. Yes, that’s right. Five attorneys had gone through the index and marked what they felt were hot docs depending on what they were individually working on. Trying to organize, pull, copy, and re-index those documents was a nightmare. After going through the index once, I decided to just put in the effort on the front end and import the entire index into Excel. Because the formatting on the original index had been corrupted, it was a harrowing, frustrating process.
After importing everything, I created columns for each attorney and remarked their hot docs. Because the index could be easily sorted and unneeded portions deleted, I handed off the pertinent sections to an assistant who had no question what to reproduce. The index could be printed from there without any need to “re-index.” And the best part? When/if any attorneys want to add to their hot docs list, all I have to do is re-sort and re-print.
Excel is your friend. Learn it. Use it. Love it.