© Ugur Akinci
Combining individual files into one large “Master Document” is a task that most technical writers face frequently during their careers.
Perhaps you work in a large company and you need to pull together separate Word files into an updated document; or perhaps the task is to combine files written by different writers (like the chapters of a book) into one final document.
One way to do that is by using MS Word’s “Master Document” functionality, which is covered by other posts in this blog. (Please search for keywords “Master Document”).
But Master Document has one important drawback (other than the fact that it’s buggy and does not work the way it’s supposed to all the time): you can not send the final document to others for review or edit without also sending all the individual subdocuments that make up the Master Document since the master document is actually a collection of links to those individual files and does not really contain their content.
One way to come up with a composite “master document” that would display all the content of its subdocuments is to insert such files into the target file through the IncludeText field.
This field is also known to have its problems (like the famous “Error! Filename not specified” error). But when it works it enables you to send the content of multiple files to others through a single “master document”.
Here are the basic steps:
(1) Create or locate your subdocuments. Here we will have two such files: Doc1 and Doc2. IncludeText works best if the subdocuments are all saved within the same directory (folder). If they are in different directories, make careful note of their full paths (addresses).
(2) Open your target Word 2010 document; that is, the document into which you’d like to import the subdocuments to create an overall “master document.”
(3) On the ribbon, select the Insert tab.
(4) Select Quick Parts > Field to display the Field dialog box.
(5) Find and select the IncludeText field to display its respective attributes.
(6) For Doc1, enter the correct path into the Filename or URL field:
(Click to enlarge all images)
(7) Click OK to insert the content of Doc1 into the target document:
(8) Do the same for Doc2:
(9) Now you if you go back and edit Doc1:
(10) Target document will pick up the changes with some errors. For example, in this case, the COLOR of the edited text is not displayed in the target document:
(11) You can go ahead and do any kind of edits you like in the target (“master”) document. However, this won’t affect the content of the subdocuments: