"Linking" cells in Word
April 29, 2006 10:24 AM   Subscribe

How do I link tables in the same document in such a way that, when I change the text in a cell in the first table, the new text also appears in the same cell in (let's say) the other 3 tables.

The tables in this example are identical; there are more than one on the same page in order to save paper when it comes time to print them. TIA for any help.
posted by zephyrbill to Computers & Internet (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I assume you're talking about MS Office. IANAOGuru, but I think in this case your best bet would be to use excel for the tables- it will much more easily do the autocalculations.

If you are using tables in Word, they're just for formatting that I know of; however, you can embed an excel sheet into a word document, so you can get the best of both worlds: an excel dynamic table, but inside a formatted word document. However, if you just insert excel as an object, it becomes a simple chart independent of the originating file- and while useful, doesn't solve your problem of making multiple excel objects in a doc equal.

If however you insert excel from file (Insert -> Object -> From file), but check that "link to file" option, then this could work for you: your chart in the word document will depend on the existence of the excel chart, but it also means that when you double click on the chart in Word, it'll spawn excel, and let you edit any cells normally. When you save that excel file, the Word document instantly updates all instances of that chart in your word document to reflect the new values.

I think that accomplishes what you're looking for, but I don't know if there is a more elegant method to do this in Word/Excel.
posted by hincandenza at 11:06 AM on April 29, 2006

Depending on your printer('s drivers) you can probably print "4-up" (or "2-up", etc.). When you hit print, chose printer properties or advanced options or something like that, (sorry, I'm not currently on a computer where I can confirm the exact labels), and you should be able to find an option to print 4-up. What this does is shrink your page to fit in a quarter page, and then prints 4 to a piece of paper. If I understand correctly, this is what you want to achieve and you only have to have one copy of the table.
posted by winston at 11:46 AM on April 29, 2006

I'm using Office 2000 (Mac). The help suggests this is possible, but I don't believe it, having just messed around with it. Try searching on "referencing cells in a table."

According to the help, you insert a bookmark on the table being referenced. They don't make it clear whether you should select the whole thing, or just one cell, or what, but my trial-and-error suggests you need to select all the cells, but not the weird characters at the end of each row, before hitting "insert bookmark"

Let's say you name the table "table1"

In the analogous cell in table2, you create a formula that references this cell, like table1a1 for the cell at A,1. Here's where we run into trouble: I've tried following their examples exactly, and I get syntax errors. I've tried every obvious variation and gotten syntax errors.

I thought maybe bookmarking individual cells would work, but that seems to bookmark the row. Go figure.

There may yet be some arcane incantation that'll make this work, and perhaps if you've got phone support for Office, you could get a MS person to figure it out for you.
posted by adamrice at 12:27 PM on April 29, 2006

If I remember correctly, you can set editable fields in Word 2003 to use equations similar to equations in Excel. Theoretically you could use these fields to "slave" to a single set of "master" fields somewhere else in the document.

Check the menu item "Insert >> Field..." when in Word 2003.
posted by yellowbkpk at 1:21 PM on April 29, 2006

If you get your choice of application for this, Adobe FrameMaker does this very easily, & there are many examples in the help. No clue if you're using Office. Sorry.
posted by devilsbrigade at 1:21 PM on April 29, 2006

As long as you're embedding the Excel tables, it's easy. If the changing data is in (say) A1, then in the relevant cell in the other tables, just put '=A1'. Done.
posted by dirtynumbangelboy at 8:18 PM on April 29, 2006

You can make Word insert automatically-updated duplicates of any part of your document, and this works for whole tables as well as for anything else.

The first step is to make a bookmark for whatever you're trying to duplicate (in your case, the master copy of the table). Select the entire table, then choose Insert->Bookmark. When the Bookmark dialog box pops up, type a bookmark name (alphanumerics and underlines are OK in these, no spaces) and click Add.

The next step is to insert a reference to this bookmark wherever you want it to duplicate itself. Click in your document where you want the duplicate to go, and choose Insert->Field. When the Field dialog box pops up, choose "Links and references" in the "Categories:" box, then choose "Ref" in the "Field names:" box. This will make a "Bookmark name:" box appear in the "Field properties" section, and you should see the bookmark name you created earlier listed in there. Click on that, then click OK.

This will insert an exact duplicate of whatever you selected when you created the bookmark. You can insert as many references as you like to any given bookmark.

If you make changes inside the region you originally bookmarked, the duplicates will not immediately update themselves. Updating happens when you (a) print or print preview your document or (b) force the reference to update by selecting it (the reference, not the original bookmarked region) and hitting the F9 key. These are the same rules that apply to Tables of Contents.

Every reference inside the current selection gets updated when you hit F9, so you can force every reference in the entire document to update by hitting Ctrl-A then F9.
posted by flabdablet at 7:03 AM on April 30, 2006 [2 favorites]

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