Identifying the variables in your documents is an important first step with organizing your document.
The process is also an incredibly helpful tool: it gives you a guide for logically thinking through the different combinations of information your document or template might include.
Below are recommended tips for marking up your documents in a consistent format.
Standardization makes it easy for everyone to work with your documents, whether it be your assistant, paralegal, other attorneys, or the nice folks on the Woodpecker template development team.
Step 1: Identify your Variables and Rules
A variable is a piece of text or information that will be entered into the document. There are two types of fields that should be marked in your documents:
Static Fields: these fields don’t affect text, or don’t change based on other variables.
E.g., [Client Name], [Client Address], [Client State], [Client Zip]
Dynamic Fields: these data for these fields may depend on the data in another. The answer to another question will change the text dynamically.
E.g., Paragraph 8 changes based on the client's age. If the client is older than 40, the text will change.
PRO TIP: A rule dictates when certain text in the document will appear. Go through your document and think about what rules you have.
Step 2: Mark Your Documents Based on What Fields They Are
1) Mark your Static fields throughout the document.
Use [square brackets] and insert the field name you want to use in your template.
E.g. [Client Name], [Company Address], [Signing Date], [Today’s Date].
PRO TIP: Ask yourself if it makes more sense to have [Client Name] as two separate fields or if it makes more sense to separate these pieces of information into two different fields?
For example, if you use [Client First Name] or [Client Last Name] elsewhere in the document (for example: in a salutation), it might make sense to break up [Client Name] into two fields: [Client First Name] and [Client Last Name].
2)For Dynamic fields use the comment to describe the rule and provide instructions or guidance in the Excel document to make sure we cover all the options while converting your document.
A lot of complex situations can be represented in legal documents, some of which occur infrequently.
When building templates, focus on building for the most frequent client situations. If you try to cover every possible outlier scenario, you will spend far more time building your template, with a limited return on that investment of time.
Woodpecker can handle verb tenses and pronouns; they do not have to be marked up on the document.
Need some ideas on how to name your fields? Read more about: Best practices to name files and field
Example of how to add your Static and Dynamic fields in the Word document
Note: Make sure you use the same number in the comments and the Excel sheet!