Tools of the Trade – TextPad

One of the first tools I recommend to someone that is new to litigation support tasks is a text editor called TextPad. There are several text editors that have become favorites among litigation support professionals. Personally, I use both TextPad and UltraEdit and I prefer each of them for different reasons.  However, for someone just starting out with litigation support tasks, there is a reason I suggest TextPad initially.

In the world of litigation support, we deal with files that are large in size.  Many of these large files will include all of the words on every page of every document.  If you imagine the large file containing information about 1,000 or 5,000 or even 10,000 documents and some of those documents are 50 or 100 pages long, you can begin to see how the file might contain a large volume of words and therefore be large in size.

If someone is not familiar with litigation support tasks and they receive one of these large files, from opposing counsel, for instance, they will most likely try to view the large file with NotePad.  Depending on how large the file is, NotePad may struggle to open the file.  In addition, once the file is opened in NotePad it may be difficult to read or interpret the contents.

I believe that the only way someone can truly learn, and more importantly retain, something new is for that person to perform the actions themselves.  I like to refer to it as letting the learner “drive” (as in mouse in hand) versus the trainer demonstrating the actions (and doing the “driving”).

I have provided the necessary steps in the exercise below.  If you are new to litigation support tasks, please take the time to walk through these steps on your own and let me know if you have any questions by leaving a comment below so that others can learn from your question and my answer.


1.  Install a trial version of TextPad.  You can download it here.

2.  Download a sample text file that I created.  You can download the Export.DAT file here.

3.  Open the NotePad software application.

In Windows XP, select Start | Run | type Notepad and click OK.

In Windows 7, select Start | in the “search programs and files” box, type Notepad, and hit Enter on the keyboard.

4.  From NotePad, select File | Open and navigate to the Export.DAT file that you downloaded and saved to your computer.

5.  The text file should look something like this:

6. Each of the blue outlines represents the beginning of a new document (ENRON0000037, ENRON0000038, ENRON0000039, and ENRON0000040).

7.  Now open the same file with the TextPad software application.

8.  The text file should appear differently and look something like this:

9.  You will notice that the file is much easier to interpret.  For instance, each document is displayed as one line only.  If this sample file was larger, you would have noticed a distinct difference in the amount of time each application took to open the file.  Text editors like TextPad handle large files easily.

10.   If you are new to litigation support tasks, TextPad is a good initial software resource.  For example, large text files like these will be included in an electronic production received from opposing counsel.

Note:  Obviously, there is so much more to learn about these files and text editors, but as I mentioned in my post called What's In It For You, I will purposefully break this content down into small and simple-to-learn components.


  1. I have been doing e-discovery as a paralegal in law offices for a while, but this it the first time I have used a text editor. It makes those files much clearer and easier to use. Thanks Amy!

    1. It’s one of those things you don’t know about until you do. Usually a paralegal can get the firm to purchase a single license of TextPad and it makes the tasks that much easier to deal with.

  2. Pingback: Tools of the Trade – Avery DesignPro | Litigation Support Guru | The Paralegal Support Site

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