Word Processors on iPad for Lawyers: Word Compatibility Shootout (Part II – Pleadings)

This is a follow up to the post I did a couple weeks ago about the Microsoft Word compatible word processing apps for the iPad. In that post, we compared how the different iPad apps handled some basic Word formatting that a lawyer would use in notes, correspondence, memoranda and the like. In this post, we’ll see how the different iPad apps handle pleading specific formatting.

Once again, our four major contenders are:

My methodology for this test was the same as the first test. First, I created a basic pleading on my desktop using Microsoft Word 2003. I made sure to include the major types of formatting one might find in a pleading: line numbering, caption, case citations, a text box, a footer and footnotes.

Click on the image for a larger view of the original file.

Once I had an original, I imported it into four iPad word processing programs. Within each app, I made a change to the document to ensure that the file was being saved anew by the app. I then exported the file from the iPad back to Word on my desktop. I created a pdf of the resulting output for use in this post.

A quick note about WYSIWYG performance. The iPad version of the file and the ultimate output often bore no resemblance to one another. While the ultimate output from a couple of the iPad apps was very good, you wouldn’t know it from looking at the iPad screen. In other words, the iPad, while having Word compatibility, does not provide a WYSIWYG experience. To highlight this, I captured a screen shot of the iPad screen of each app as I was editing the. Those images are also pasted below.

QuickOffice Connect Mobile Suite (iTunes link). QuickOffice did a great job. All formatting elements in the final product appear to be intact. Footnote preserved (even though not visible while editing on iPad). No WYSIWYG on the iPad. No line numbering, no text box, lost the footnote.

QuickOffice final output

QuickOffice on iPad

Pages (iTunes Link). Far from great. Caption has been moved around a bit and a bunch of extra space has crept in beneath the caption. The pleading now takes up a page and a half rather than one page like the original (only first page below). Footnote was also lost. Pages is closest to WYSIWYG on the iPad. Line numbers and text box made are showing up, but some formatting and spacing problems have already crept in distorting it from the original.

Pages final output

Pages on iPad

Documents to Go Premium (iTunes Link). About tied with QuickOffice. Caption, line numbering, case formatting, footnote, text box all appear intact in the final product. Terrible WYSIWYG performance (no line numbering, butchered caption, no text box), but gets top marks for final output.

DTG final output

DTG on iPad

Office2 HD (iTunes link). Sadly, Office 2 HD turned in dead last. Lots of formatting changes, caption is a wreck, line numbering lost, line formatting lost, pleading pushed onto a second page. Oy. Far from WYSIWYG performance on the iPad.

Office 2 HD final output

Office 2 HD on iPad

Verdict. As before, the ultimate output from Documents to Go Premium and QuickOffice Connect Mobile Suite are best. Both of these apps preserved line numbering, the caption box, case citation form and the footnote. Sadly, the output from Office 2 HD and Pages isn’t even a close second. Interestingly, the app that provided the best WYSIWYG experience on the iPad was Pages by handling the line numbering successfully.

I have all of these apps on my iPad for testing purposes, but QuickOffice Connect Mobile Suite (iTunes link) is the one that I use when I need Word compatible functionality. Even though the final output is on par with Documents to Go Premium (iTunes Link), I find the file management capabilities of QuickOffice to be superior (or at least easier for my brain to understand). That said, I am still muddling around in these apps a bit. I do most of my iPad writing in SimpleNote, so I haven’t had the experience with the full  featured word processing apps on the iPad to learn all their respective quirks yet.

Next in this series I think we are going to tackle contract drafting. I think the most notable formatting element there is use of outline numbering of various styles (each with differing indentation) and automatic cross references. Let me know in the comments if there is something you’d like to make sure I address.

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