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October 5, 2011 12:42 PM   Subscribe

How can I make the changes to one section of a word document automatically update another? Please hope.

I know there's a way to do this and I'm having a hard time even thinking of what search terms to use. I have a document which, when one section (say page 1, paragraph 1) changes, I need it to auto-update a chart later in the document so that both sections mirror each other. How do I do this? I hope this question makes sense but I will follow up if you all say it doesn't. Thanks!
posted by SassHat to Computers & Internet (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I'm not quite sure it's exactly what you want, but field codes can do all sorts of wild things in word. I only know about their existence- I have no idea what can / can't be done with them..
posted by defcom1 at 12:46 PM on October 5, 2011

In earlier versions of Word I did stuff like this by setting document metadata values and pulling them into the text with the field codes that defcom1 mentions. I also fiddled around with pulling values out of fields in an Excel document.
posted by XMLicious at 12:53 PM on October 5, 2011

Hmm. Object linking and embedding (OLE) springs to mind, but that's usually when you link data from a separate document (like a spreadsheet) to the object in Word (like a chart). You update the spreadsheet, then when you open the Word doc the chart in the Word doc updates, too. Can't think of another way, but I'll be interested to see the answers.
posted by clone boulevard at 1:16 PM on October 5, 2011

The simplest way to do this in the version of Word I use (2000, yeah, I know, work won't update my licence) with the bookmark/ref method. First, bookmark the text you want updated in the location where you want to make changes manually. To do this, select the text and go to Insert>Bookmark in the menu bar (Alt+I,K) and give a unique name to the selected text, e.g. "pg1para1", next, replace every subsequent instance of the bookmarked text with a reference field. To insert a blank field code, hit Ctrl+F9 and word will insert a set of curly brackets (or braces if you prefer). Inside the braces, type "REF" and a space, followed by the name of your bookmark. The REF field code isn't strictly necessary, and you can enter just the name of the bookmark, but Word won't recognize it if the bookmark shares a name with a word-defined field code, e.g. "date".

On a more general note, I encourage everyone to play around with field codes. Once you have a decent understanding of them, they can make a lot of tedious clerical tasks mostly vanish.
posted by [expletive deleted] at 1:18 PM on October 5, 2011

are we talking about styles?
posted by b33j at 2:08 PM on October 5, 2011

I don't know if it will update a chart (are you wanting to refer to numerical values calculated in some function? That might be better handled in Excel), but as others are saying, field codes allow you to reference other bookmarks in the document that may change. The most common application that springs to mind are Table of Contents bookmarks, that can be tied to Heading styles used throughout the document - if you cut and paste a section or chapter, the TOC updates (although you may have to make it refresh manually - I can't remember if there's a setting that will do this automatically).
posted by ccalgreen at 2:31 PM on October 5, 2011

Have you tried Paste Special -> Paste as Link? That works if you need text in one place to exactly mirror text from somewhere else in the document, even if the original text gets modified.
posted by Lexica at 2:37 PM on October 5, 2011

Thank you Lexica. I think that is the easiest solution. Nothing else makes sense to me AT ALL. Thanks for the help everyone! I didn't think Word could be this intense.
posted by SassHat at 2:42 PM on October 5, 2011

I'm interested in doing this too. I just tried the two methods from [expletive deleted] and Lexica. They both work equally well. The important part is to 'Select all' and then F9 to update after the original text has been changed.
posted by unliteral at 8:52 PM on October 5, 2011

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