Latest posts by techwriter (see all)
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Imagine you have a 200 page MS Word document with repeating text elements like an address, a name, or a date which repeated over and over throughout the document.
And imagine, after finishing the document, or when it’s time to update it, your boss tells you to change the name from “John” to “Bob.”
One way to do it of course is to use a global Find and Replace.
But what if you’d like to replace only some of the “John”s to “Bob”? Are you going to check them one by one? Or what if you want to do it automatically without the need to remember to do a Find and Replace?
It’s easy. You first mark the source text with a bookmark.
1) Select the text.
2) Select Insert > Bookmark from the main menu.
3) Enter a Bookmark Name (no spaces) and click Add. To see your bookmark on the screen, select Tools > Options > View Tab. Check the “Show Bookmarks” check-box.
The next step — for all the other instances of this text, enter a REF (Reference) FIELD that points to the BOOKMARK of your reference TEXT.
1) Place your cursor where you want the next instance of the source text to appear.
2) Select Insert > Field from the main menu to display the Field dialog box.
3) Find the REF field in the “Field Names” scroll-down list box.
4) Select REF and then select your BOOKMARK in the “Bookmark Name” list box in the middle.
5) Click OK and your text will be inserted with a gray background screen (which will not be printed), denoting that this is not normal text but a variable field.
Now, every time you make a change to your original text, all other instances will also be changed automatically AFTER you do the following:
1) Select the whole document by selecting Edit > Select All from the main menu, or pressing Ctrl + A.
2) Press the F9 key and BINGO! You’ve got all instances of your text updated automatically.
CAUTION: Be careful not to delete the bookmark markers when you are editing your original text. That’s why it is important to work by displaying your bookmark markers.
Creating RUNNING HEADERS and FOOTERS
Another great use of Bookmarkers and the REF field variable is in the Headers and Footers.
Imagine you’d like to include the Document Title (not the File Name but the actual name of the document printed on the front cover of the document) or a section title either in the header or the footer. This is also called a “running” header or footer since the header/footer on a page changes depending on selected section headings or titles like the way, for example, you’d see on any phone directory or dictionary page.
Adobe FrameMaker takes care of this much more elegantly by allowing you to assign one or more variables to your header or footer, variables that are fully customizable and indexed to your paragraph tags, so that you can actually have multiple levels of running headers and footers displaying on your pages.
Although MS Word does not provide the same easy functionality to key the headers/footers to paragraph styles, it still can be done by inserting bookmarks and REF variables.
This is how you do it:
Assign a bookmark to the title (or any other source text of your choice) and then insert its corresponding REF field variable into the header or the footer. After updating the text, go back to your header or the footer editing mode (View > Header and Footer) and press F9. All your headers or footers (within that given section) will be updated as well.
NOTE: There is a formatting problem with updating the headers and footers this way since MS Word has the tendency to insert the source text with its original formatting.
If, for example, you are referencing a 24 point document title in your header, your headers will look huge. You can of course select the header text manually and re-format it to a smaller size.
If the next time you update the source text, the length of the updated text is equal to or smaller than the original text, then the header/footer preserves its latest formatting properties.
If, however, your new updated text is LONGER than the previous one, then for only that part of the text which is longer, MS Word switches the formatting back to the original source text format.
For example, if your original document title is composed of two words, “Word Tricks,” and your updated document title is either “Word Techniques” or just “Word,” then the headers and footers are updated (after going into the header/footer editing mode) nicely by preserving your latest formatting corrections.
However, if your new title is “Word Tricks Explained,” then the last extra word “Explained” is displayed in the headers/footers with the original formatting of your document title, creating a lop-sided and aesthetically unpleasant header/footer. In those cases you need to go back to your header/footer and reformat the extra new word(s) as well to match the rest of your header/footer. This is a bug that I hope Microsoft will take care of in the future.