First post in a very long time. Sorry about that. Been working, plus no one’s asked me any good questions… until now!

Today I’m writing about blanks.  Blanks are forms that you can fill in quickly and easily, and they make cover pages so much easier. These usually take a while to set up at first, but once you do, you save time on every job. Also, because they’re pretty noticeable, I find them to be pretty useful for reminding me to put in info that I won’t have until I’m done with the transcript, i.e., final page number.

Here’s a sample of what a caption page looks like with blanks.  With my color scheme, it kind of looks like an inverted redaction, doesn’t it?


As I write this, I realize I should really put a form field in front of “DEPOSITION OF” so I don’t forget to put in EXPERT or VIDEOTAPED when necessary. So why don’t I show you how to do that?

To insert a form field, press Shift + A. (Bonus points: If you have an existing form field you would like to change, you can bring up this menu by putting your cursor on the field and pressing Shift +A.) You will see a menu pop up. It will look like this.


Field Label: This is the name of your blank. It will show up so you can read it — see the blank underneath that says “Witness.”  This is to remind you of what you need to fill in and serve as a placeholder.

Field size: This is some weird sort of voodoo magic I still haven’t entirely figured out, but it had something to do with how many characters you can put into the field and how long the blank will look. From what I’ve seen it’s not quite as straightforward as that sounds. I usually leave it checked adjustable, but I guess if you’re really bad at filling in phone numbers or something, you can unclick the adjustable box and set a character limit on it.

Variable: You can link two or more blanks with this box. If you give two fields the same variable, the second one will automagically fill in with the same information as the first box. It’s a huge time saver! So, imagine I needed to put the same information, EXPERT/VIDEOTAPE DEPOSITION OF, on the first page of the transcript. What I would do is fill in the “Variable” box with something like “deptype” and then on the first page do another form field and fill in the “Variable” box with the exact same thing, “deptype”. Then when you’re filling in your caption page, you won’t have to fill in the second field. Eclipse will do it automatically, saving you precious SECONDS.

Another cool thing for this box is if you fill in the variable with “NUM” (no quotes when entering it in the box) then it will prefill the next blank with the next number in sequence. This is great for exhibits. If you fill in the first box with “10,” then the next time you hit an exhibit field, it will automatically fill with 11.

Prompt for Contents: Check this box if you don’t want it to be completely automatic. If you check this box, you’ll get a pop-up from the second box with the information prefilled, asking you to okay it.

Delete line if empty: This is good when filling in addresses. If you like to put the street address and the suite on separate lines, you can check this box for the suite blank, and it will delete the line if there’s no suite.

Last field: The cool thing about blanks is they will automatically jump to the next blank when you’re done filling in the first one. So as soon as I finished filling in COURT, it would jump to COUNTY, then NAME, etc., all the way down until it hits one that’s checked as “Last Field.” Then it stops. (You can, of course, push Escape if you ever want to abort filling out a blank for whatever reason.)

Capitalize contents: Pretty much what it says. If you want what you fill into be in all caps, check this.

Right flush contents: This is only useful if you have a specific field size. So, let’s say you set a field size of 20. That’s how long your blank will be. (The white blank space won’t always show up that long, but imagine it’s there.) If you fill in the blank with something short, it will usually fill in starting on the left side, and there will be a lot of space on the right. If you check this box, your info will fill in start on the right, and all the empty space will be on the left.

Use list file: These are the most useful, especially if you often work with law firms with ridiculously long names. I will explains these more in-depth later on.

Mathematical: I haven’t needed to do anything with this box yet, but let me know if you would like me to post on it. The help file seemed to suggest it could do some cool things, and I think it may actually be useful if you need to keep track of time. (In California they’re now limited most depos to 7 hours, so sometimes they attorneys will ask.)

Now that I’ve gone through the menu, here’s what my EXPERT/VIDEOGRAPHER field will look like:


NOTE: When you push enter and create the blank, remember that it doesn’t automatically insert a space between the blank and the next word. So if I filled in the menu and pushed okay and filled in the blank, it would show up as EXPERTDEPOSITION. Always remember to add that space after it.

Slightly less important note: Sometimes the blanks will show up abnormally long for what you need and that will sometimes make your line go over to the next one. You can just ignore it. As long as you’ve got the “Variable” box selected, the blank will shrink when you fill in the information and it will go back to one line. Or you could make the extra effort to set the field size and select right/left flush.

It’s getting a bit late, and this turned out to be a little longer than I expected, so I will get into the “use list file” bit in another post, hopefully in the not-too-far-future. As always, feel free to leave a comment if you have questions/comments.

Here’s a reward for making it all the way to the end!



About nerdformacros

Court reporter, Child of the Internet, Not Tech Support. Okay, maybe basic tech support, but that's it!
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