Many of Word’s most useful features, such as page numbering and cross-referencing, are implemented with fields. Most of Word’s fields act as placeholders, gathering, updating, and displaying content that may change throughout a document’s lifetime.
For example, when you insert a
DATE field, rather
than just inserting today’s date as plain text, Word
inserts a special code that says “Whenever this
field is updated, go and find out what the current date is and
display that.” (Of course, Word says it a bit more
tersely.) To see a
DATE field in action, press
Ctrl-F9 to insert a pair of field
braces—special characters that
can’t be typed in using the standard keys—and
type the word
Date in between the braces.
Select the field you just created and press F9 to update its
contents. Word will gladly report today’s date.
The hacks in this chapter show a few ways to take fields beyond the basics—in some cases, way beyond the basics. Working with fields isn’t for the easily frustrated, and the learning curve is on the steep side. But once you’ve seen what they can do, you’ll find that fields are a very useful addition to your Word toolbox.
Many of the fields in this chapter are quite complex, and Word is unforgiving of incorrect syntax. Many of the fields in this chapter are also quite long. Optional line breaks have been inserted, as indicated with the “” character, so that the fields can fit the width of a printed page. A line break is inserted ...