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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Legal IT Consulting - Green Printing for Law Firms

We recently completed a consulting engagement with a large international business law firm in Toronto (One of the Toronto's Seven Sisters) with offices all over North America and Asia. We were engaged to customize their Microsoft Word 2010 environment as part of their migration from Windows XP/Word 2003 to Windows 7/Word 2010.

One of the major components of this migration was to support the firm's "Green Initiative" whose goal was to reduce the consumption of paper and printer ink used in their daily operations. ( According to a recent article published in American Bar Association "A typical lawyer uses 20,000 to 100,000 sheets of paper per year, 100,000 sheets = 4.5 tons of greenhouse gas emissions!!"). 

While printing documents in law firms cannot be completely eliminated, the consumption of paper can be drastically reduced by printing wisely.  One of the easiest ways to reduce paper usage is to print duplex or on both sides of the paper as often as possible. For instance, when printing a draft copy of a document, duplex printing should be selected by default.

Although double-sided printing seems like a straight forward solution, the implementation is tricky. There are several scenarios where you don't want to print dual-sided  - client letters, contracts, etc. Trying to switch between dual sided and single sided printing is very cumbersome and will lead to poor adoption of any policy requiring the use of dual sided printing. 

To address this problem, we developed a Word print addin to standardize the printing throughout the firm, across all offices.  Our addin created predefined settings for various "Print Profiles". For example:
  • Draft Profile would preselect duplex(double-sided) printing and low print resolution(uses less ink) as the default print setting. The user would just have to select "Draft Profile" and hit Print to automatically print a draft copy using both sides of the paper and a low ink resolution. 
  • Letter Profile would auto select  single-sided, high resolution and letterhead tray as the default print setting.
  • Green Print would preselect duplex, low resolution and 2 sheets per page (In effect, this would print 4 pages of a document in a single sheet of paper - drastically reducing the amount of paper used)

Our addin gave the employees the ability to quickly print documents using various profiles ( Draft, Letter, Memo, Fax, File Copies) with a single click operation!

The addin was built using Microsoft's .net technology and  interfaced directly with the Windows spooler to change printer settings.  The addin worked with all the printers  in the firm and controlled several printer attributes such as duplex settings, resolution settings, trays, orientation, sheets per page, etc.

Since the  deployment of this functionality, the firm has seen a big reduction in paper consumption and savings in printer ink consumption, and the addin has simplified the printing process for various types of documents and improved user productivity.

PS: If you want to try out our Word addin to simplify your printing process and save paper, please contact us at

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Improving Readability of Microsoft Outlook Calendar

This is the fourth in our series about Microsoft Outlook 2007/2010 zoom functionality.  In this post, we will talk about how to improve the readability of the Calendar view (weekly, daily or monthly views).

Please note that in the calendar view grid, the zoom slider does not increase or decrease the text size of the grid for better readability. The zoom slider is used to change time intervals in the calendar. Please click here to learn more about changing time intervals.

Improving the readability of the Calendar View grid:
In order improve the readability of the appointments and other calendar events displayed in the
calendar view, you have to change the properties of the font used to display the events. Here are the
steps to do it:

  1. Go to the calendar in Outlook.
  2. Open the “Advanced View Settings” dialog box:
    • For Outlook 2010 – From the “View” tab, select the “View Settings” button
    • For Outlook 2007 - From the "View" menu, select Current View and then select Customize Current View.
  3. In the Advanced View Settings dialog box, click on the “Other Settings…” button to launch the “Format/Day/Week/Month View” dialog box:
  4.  The “Format Day/Week/Month View” dialog box allows you to manage the fonts for different parts of the calendar view. In order to change the font used to display the appointments and other events in the calendar view, click on the “Font…” button. This will launch the Font selector dialog.   
  5. In the Font dialog box, change the font size and weight to the one that is most comfortable for you. By default, Microsoft uses “Segoe UI” font, and I wouldn’t recommend changing this font. Note: As you change the font, font size and weight, you can see the effect of you selection in the little preview window (“Sample” box) at the bottom.

  6. Save and close all the open dialog boxes:
    a.     Click OK to save and close the “Font” dialog,
    b.    Click OK to save and close the “Format Day/Week/Month View” dialog box
    c.     Click OK to save and close the “Advanced View Settings: Calendar” dialog box.
  7.  You will notice that the font sizes have changed in the calendar view. 

Monday, July 23, 2012

Microsoft Outlook Zoom while composing an email

This is the 3rd part of our series discussing about zoom functionality in Microsoft Office 2007/2010.  In this post, we will talk about using zoom functionality while composing emails. The compose email window or Message Window is the window used for composing new emails, replying to an email or forwarding an email.

It is important to note that any changes made to the zoom percentage in the compose email window is persisted or saved – that is  the next time you use the compose email window, Outlook will remember and apply the previously saved zoom settings (This functionality is different from the read email window or the reading pane).

To change the zoom percentage in the Compose Email Window:
  1. Launch the compose email window (In Outlook 2007, click on the "New Email" button on the top left corner of Outlook; In Outlook 2010, click on the "New Email" button in the "Home" tab). 
  2. Click into the message body of the email.
  3. Locate and click on the Zoom button in the Ribbon on top(as seen below).

  4.  This will launch the Zoom Dialog window.

  5. Click on any desired percentage and preview the changed text in the Preview window. If you are satisfied with the readability, click OK.
  6. Close the compose email window and Outlook will remember the zoom settings going forward.
Note that changing the zoom percentage on the compose email window also impacts the zoom settings for the create new appointment window in the calendar. (We will talk more about the zoom functionality in our next post).

Please let me know if you have any questions or need clarifications about the zoom functionality and I will be glad to answer your questions.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Microsoft Outlook Zoom – Zoom for reading emails

In Microsoft Outlook 2007/2010, you can read emails either in the reading pane or in a separate window. In this blog post, we will show you how to change the zoom settings for both of them.
Two important things to note:
  •  Microsoft Office 2007 does not have a zoom slider in the preview pane. 
  • Changes made to zoom settings while reading emails will not be saved in both Outlook 2007 and Outlook 2010.  So when you read the next email, you will have to change the zoom settings again.
Reading Pane There are a couple of ways to change the zoom in the reading pane (or the preview
  1. Zoom Slider – The zoom slider is usually located in the bottom right-hand corner of the preview or reading pane. You can move the slider up and down to change the zoom level.
  2. Ctrl + Mouse Wheel – Press the "Ctrl" key and roll your scroll wheel  to increase or decrease the zoom level. (Note that the mouse icon has to be positioned over the reading pane while you perform this action). The wheel in the middle of the picture is the scroll wheel.  

Read Email in a separate Message Window - There are a couple of ways to change the zoom in the Message Window:
  1. Zoom Button  - When you open an email or calendar item to read in a separate window, the Zoom can be changed using the Zoom button which appears in the ribbon on top. The Zoom button launches the "Zoom Dialog" where you can adjust the Zoom setting.
  2.  Using Ctrl + Mouse Wheel as mentioned above.