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How to Combine Multiple MS Word 2007 or 2010 Documents in a Master Document

© Ugur Akinci

Follow these steps to combine multiple MS Word 2007 or 2010 documents into a single document.

General steps:

1) Create your individual documents by using as much the same paragraph styles as possible. If they are already created, make sure they share the same paragraph styles as much as possible. This step makes combining them a simpler process.

2) Create a blank Master Document.

3) Combine the individual documents in that Master Document.

Detailed steps:

1) Backup all your individual documents before attempting anything.

2) Open your individual documents. For the purposes of this exercise, we’ve created Document 1, Document 2, and Document 3.

3) Create and save a Master Document — which is nothing more than a new Word document referred to as a “Master” Document.

At this point all your documents should be OPEN — both the Master Document and the other individual documents.

4) In the Master Document, select View tab > Document Views pod and select the OUTLINE view:

5) Click the SHOW DOCUMENT button to display additional controls:

MS Word 2010 Outlining - Show Document

6) Click the INSERT button to display the documents you’ve created or opened with the intention of combining into a larger document:

MS Word 2010 Outlining - INSERT Button

7) Select “Document 1″ to insert into the Outline. If there are any styles named the same both in that document and the Master Document, Word 2010 will give you an opportunity to change the style name (or keep it the same).


This is how Document 1 inserted into the Master Document looks like:

MS Word 2010 Document 1 in Master Document

8] Repeat the same for the other two remaining document. This is how Document 2 is added right after Document 1:

MS Word 2010 Document 2 in Master Document


9) Click CLOSE OUTLINE VIEW to shift back to the default PRINT LAYOUT view.

WARNING: Always keep backup copies of your individual documents since Word Master Documents sometimes do get corrupted. Read the comments following this post please.

ALSO SEE: Factors Determining Success of Master Documents

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25 comments to How to Combine Multiple MS Word 2007 or 2010 Documents in a Master Document

  • Marissa

    Another way is to use OneNote 2010 creating a page in a notebook where you “insert printed files”. It then lets you save as a Word or .PDF file.

  • cindy

    Why can’t I use RD field codes to create an index from multiple files in Word 2010, the way I used to in all other Word versions? There was no need to create a master document. I copied the RD codes from the table of contents, and created an index in one file, from many files, using these codes. Is this feature completely gone, or is there still a way to do this? Thanks.

  • Takis

    No it’s not gone you can do it! The only problem when you do not have a master document is that you must manually change the page numbers of every document, or else in the index doc you will have recuring first pages

    • Cynthia M.

      I used RD fields to create a Master TOC from multiple subdocs (in Word 2010) and it worked great. Then I created cascading links among the subdocs and updated their page number fields to reflect the link, and now all my subdocs have continuous page numbers. However, the RD fields only see the simple PAGE value, not the updated value, so each section appears to restart at 1 even though in the actual documents they do not. Can you please suggest any way of asking the RD fields to use the complete, updated page number value, not simply {PAGE}, so that the page numbers showing in the TOC are the ones showing in the document? Thank you!

  • Crystal

    Is it possible to share a master document w/someone not on your network? I’m helping compile articles for a magazine publication and thought this might be a good way to organize them and stay on top of it but it’s useless if I can’t send it to my editor for review. Any suggestions or comments are appreciated!

    • Dear Crystal, thanks for your feedback. A Word master document is nothing but a collection of links pointing at each subdocument. The content of the subdocuments are not actually imported into the Master document. Thus, when you email just the Master document, you need to send the subdocuments as well — and not only that, the person receiving the subdocuments must save it on the other local machine by using exactly the same path that is embedded into the master document. Otherwise the master document will not show the subdocuments properly.

      I prefer document-sharing platforms that lock the document in use and do not allow any other reviewer to access it until the document is checked back in. MS SourceSafe does that, for example. That prevents the confusion of one person correcting something in one way while, unknown to that person, the same or a similar correction is made to the same document in another way by yet another reviewer. That kind of overlapping and simultaneous reviews create a lot of headache in a hurry. I hope this answers your question. If not or if I missed something please let me know. Best regards, Ugur

  • Mart

    Hi, is this safe now with 2010 version? All previous versions seem to corrupt the files (I have experience losing lots of data this way)…

  • Mart

    Hi, is this safe now with 2010 version? All previous versions’ Master Documents seem to corrupt the files (I have experience losing lots of data this way)…

    • Mart, thanks for your feedback. The answer to your question depends on so many different factors like the length and complexity of individual documents, the number and depth of paragraph styles, RAM and power of your machine, etc. I of course tested Word 2010’s Master Document functionality with test documents that shared identical paragraph styles. However, one should proceed cautiously and ALWAYS keep a backup of the original documents since things can and DO go wrong when working with Word documents in general, and when generating Master documents, in particular.

      I thank you for your reference. Here is another one.

  • Sarah

    Hello,

    Having set up a master doc that links to a number of separate documents, is it possible to save the whole thing as a normal Word document so that I can email it to someone else and they can make comments on it?
    Sarah x

    • Sarah, excellent question! The short answer is, “no, you can’t do that.” A Word master document is nothing but a collection of links pointing at each subdocument. The content of the subdocuments are not actually imported into the Master document. Thus, when you email just the Master document, you need to send the subdocuments as well — and not only that, the person receiving the subdocuments must save it on the other local machine by using exactly the same path that is embedded into the master document. Otherwise the master document will not show the subdocuments properly.

      The upside is, you can mail each subdocument to different writers or reviewers and when you get them back you can save to the same previous address. When you relaunch the master document, it will pull in the edited copies of the subdocuments (since you have not broken the path links). That’s why master document is a good way to distribute work among a team of writers or reviewers and then get it updated by relaunching the master document. That eliminates the need to email the whole document itself. If you are dealing with a 10,000 page document, emailing just a 50-page chapter for review is much more practical, provided that chapter is one of the subdocuments linked to your master document.

  • Sarah

    Hi,

    thank you so much for your reply, this has probably saved me hours trying to do something that is actually impossible. Its a shame there’s no function for this however as I want my superviser to be able to see my entire PhD thesis as one document rather than sending him 7 separate ones. Not to worry though, in general using Word in this way has been extremely useful.

    I’ve noticed also that you CAN save the entire thing as a PDF so it is possible to see it and presumably send it as one document like this, just your reviewer can’t comment on it.

    Anyway, back to work for me, but thanks again for your help with this!

    Sarah

    • Sarah, have you tried combining your subdocuments into one “master document” by inserting them through the INCLUDETEXT field? A detailed (but introductory) tutorial will be published here on Monday (Nov 22). INCLUDETEXT can also have its problems. It can get buggy especially if your subdocuments are not all in the same directory. But you can email the content of the “master document” without also mailing the subdocuments. Thanks for the PDF tip.Great idea. Best regards, Ugur

  • gautam

    can i combine multiple master documents created in the same way in to one super master document???if yes how…i ve combined multiple word files in to many master document n i would like to make one super master document?

    • Gautam, a Word Master Document is nothing but a collection of ordered links pointing at individual files. By importing all the files into the same master document and organizing all the links under the same outline structure you can in effect create a “super master document.” But you cannot simply “add” two master documents together and create a single “Word super master document.”

  • kate

    I created a master document using word 2010 from sub documents and save it. When I tried to open it again, a lot of the inserted sub doc are missing. How can I avoide this?

  • Kate

    All sub documents are 2010 documents. No problem in inserting sub documents, inserting a heading and table of contents. I have fixe sub docs in all. I then save the master doc as a word doc which looks and prints perfectly but when I open this saved document only the heading, table of contents and only the last sub doc is there. All other sub doc are lost.

    Any assistance would be very much appreciated.

    • Kate, without looking at the file it’s hard to say anything from a distance. There could be a number of things that’s wrong but one needs to look at the sample file in question.

  • Ed Paulson

    How can I create one Word document having six pages formatted as follows?
    pg 1 – A large header with two columns below.
    pg 2 thru 5 – A small header with two columns below.
    Pg 6 – Three columns with a footer.

    I now have each page as a separate file.

    I want to work an this newsletter and email it as one file. Thank you.

    • Ed, please follow the procedure described in this post. We have tested the same procedure once again according to your file specifications and it still works. All you need to do is create a blank Word file and save it as a “Master” file. Then insert the three individual Word files into this master file by following the steps described in the post. When you switch to the PRINT VIEW, you’ll see that all your columns, headers, footers etc. are all preserved even though it does not look like it in the OUTLINE view. Don’t let the outline view fool you. The final “Master” file is the Newsletter you can send to your subscribers either as is or after re-saving it as a PDF file. Let me know how it goes. Good luck! Ugur

  • Lee

    This is a nice procedure – but I have 1 problem:
    A blank page is always inserted at the beginning of this newly created file, which I cannot delete – says this action cannot take place on a Master file.

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