Over the next few Tech Tip Tuesday posts, I’m going to show you how I created an appellate brief template in Word.

The back story

Several years ago, I became the go-to person in my office for technology related questions. After we made it through the first level of tech support (“have you restarted your computer?”), one of the most common issues we faced was formatting an appellate brief. Generally, the attorney would draft the brief and ask one of the assistants to create the table of contents, table of authorities, and format the brief. Usually, these tasks needed to be accomplished in a relatively short time period.

To alleviate this issue, I created a template in Microsoft Word for an appellate brief. So long as the attorney or assistant started the brief with the template, finalizing the brief took much less time (and stress) then the previous method.

Previous Tech Tip Tuesdays have touched on skills needed to complete this process (see here, here, and here).

Step One – Open a Blank Word Document

It’s always good to get a quick win. Double-click on your Word icon.

Step Two – Set Up Your Styles

If you haven’t had the opportunity to set your default styles, now is a good time. For the appellate brief, I set up five (5) different heading styles as shown below. These styles can be set up to your own preferences.

Example Heading 1

04 heading 1








Example Heading 2

05 heading 2







Example Heading 3

06 heading 3






Example Heading 4

07 heading 4







Example Heading 5

08 heading 5









Example Document with Styles

09 body text








Step Three – Save Your File

Now, save this file as a template file. Click “Save”. In the “File Name” box, type the name of your template. Before you click “Save,” change the file type to template.

Name the File
09 Save as Template






Choose The File Type

10 Save As Template





Click Save

11 save as template







Note the .dotx file extension

12 template file





If you double-click the template file, it should open a blank template that you can type in and later save to the file. It will have your heading styles available for you to use.

Note, when you are ready to change the template, right click on the file and choose “edit.” The template file will be opened and you can edit the template and save when you are complete.

The benefit of using a template file is that others in the firm can use the same file without saving over the settings you worked hard to create (unless they right click and edit the template).


In future posts, I’ll show you:

  • how to add appropriate numbering (e.g. small roman numerals (i, ii, etc.) for the table of content and table of authority pages, and numbers (1, 2, etc.) for the remaining pages);
  • how to add the table of contents, creating a summary of your argument;
  • how to create a table of authorities, including all the legal citations in the document; and
  • how to quickly adding the caption to your document.

Stay tuned.


Legal in Texas · February 23, 2017 at 3:28 pm

When I create brief shells for my attorneys I like to add “practice notes” — tips taken directly from the appellate rules to help guide them when creating their documents. This includes things like whether the appellee’s brief needs to contain certain things (usually it does not unless the appellee has an issue with that section in the appellant’s brief), whether that section is or is not counted when calculating word counts, etc. I basically track the appellate rules of procedure in those notes. They seem to help.

    Seth Wilson · February 27, 2017 at 2:03 pm

    That’s a great idea!

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