I have drafted many legal forms in my law practice and have published many of them in book form through West Publishing. Back in the days of standalone word processors and WordPerfect DOS, we could easily set the forms up to merge specific client information to generate documents for clients. Not so with Microsoft Word. We had to use Hot Docs for Word.
I switched my law practice from PC to Mac in October 2009. Alas, there is no Hot Docs for Mac. Then I switched my word processor from Microsoft Word to Apples Pages in February 2010. Alas alas, there is no Hot Docs for Pages. So, I have been hunting for software that searches and replaces multiple variables of text in an Apple Pages document in one pass. And I found it…from Apple. It’s built in. You just use Numbers to hold the client’s variable text, and you use Pages to generate the documents. Both Pages and Numbers are included in Apple iWork ’09. Pages is Apple’s answer to Word, and Numbers is its answer to Excel.
Apple Pages mail merge can merge variable text from an Apple Numbers document into an Apple Pages document. You usually think of mail merge as creating letters and envelopes. That’s how it works with Word, and that’s how it works with Pages, too. But Pages also lets you merge your own variables from a Numbers document into a Pages document.
The instructions for merging with your own variables, instead of just Address Book variables, are on page 236 of the Apple Pages ’09 User Guide. It’s really easy since it involves just two files, but I will walk you through the steps I go through to create legal form documents for merging with Apple Pages. Here goes:
- Find the legal form. Texas lawyer J. Harris Morgan taught lawyers years ago to throw copies of legal documents into whiskey boxes next to our desks. So, go to the whiskey box and pull out the form you want to “mergify”. Let’s assume it’s a deed. Print it on page for convenience.
- Mark through the variable text. Now, go through the deed and strike through all the variable text, like the grantor name, grantor address, grantee name, grantee address, property address, property legal description, county, etc. Take your time. You don’t want Client A’s name to be on Client B’s deed.
- Create the form document in Pages. Open Apple Pages and type that legal form document into it, or cut and paste it from an actual client file. This is your template. Save it with a name like “Deed template 2010.03.27.pages”. Note that I always put the date in the file name so that I know when I created it. Also note that you don’t need to save the file as a template. Saving it as a .pages file works just fine.
- Create the fill-in document in Numbers. Now open Apple Numbers and create a blank spreadsheet and save it with a name like “Deed fillin 2010.03.27”. This will hold the specifics for your client. This is the variable text.
- Enter the variable names in Numbers. In the first row type a variable name in each column. For example, in row 1 column A type the variable name “grantor name”, and in column B type “grantor address”, etc. Enter a column name for every variable text item in the deed (property address, property legal description, county, etc.) Each name must be different. Save this file for future use. The second row will contain the client’s specific information in each column for those variables.
- Enter the variables in the form document in Pages. Go back to your legal form document in Pages. Using your paper mark-up of the legal form as a guide, go to the first variable text item that you struck out and rename it with its variable name. I add 3 asterisks around it for ease in viewing. So, the first variable might be ***grantor name***. Then select that variable name and do the following in this order:
- In the form document in Pages, select the variable name including the asterisks so that it is highlighted;
- Click on the Inspector at the top of the Pages document’s bar;
- Click on the Merge button;
- Click the radio button for Numbers document;
- Navigate to your saved Numbers fill-in file and select it;
- Click the plus sign in the lower left of the Inspector window;
- Click Add Merge Field;
- Pages will insert your highlighted text into the window under the Merge Field column;
- The Target Name to the right is probably not the correct variable name that appears as a column in your Numbers file, so in the Inspector window click to the right of the Target Name that Pages inserted for your Merge Field and a drop down list will appear with all of the variable names you entered in the first row of your Numbers file; just select the correct Target Name for the variable text you are trying to insert in the form at that point (e.g., ***grantor name*** Merge Field should have “grantor name” as the Target Name if that is what you typed as the column heading).
- Do the above for every variable text entry in your legal form in Pages.
- Save your Pages document file for future use.
- Enter client’s variable text in Numbers. The hard part is done. Open the Numbers fill in document. Enter the client’s information in row 2 of each column. So, under the grantor name column you would enter “John T. Jones”. Do this column by column. Save the Numbers file to your desktop or other location you can find.
- Merge in Pages to create the client’s document. Now go back to your form document in Pages and do the following:
- Click Edit;
- Click Mail Merge;
- Click Numbers Document and choose your fill-in Numbers document by clicking Choose and navigating to it if not already shown;
- Select Merge to New Document;
- Click Merge, and Pages creates a new Pages document by merging the client’s variable information into the Pages form.
So, this worked for me. I just discovered it today. So these instructions are still in beta, even if Pages and Numbers are not. Let me know if this works for you or if you have any tips or tricks of your own to make this work better. Thanks.
St. Petersburg, Florida
March 27, 2010