Home > Articles > Home & Office Computing > Microsoft Applications

Fields in Word 2003: A Toe-in-the-Water Introduction

  • Print
  • + Share This
Using a word processor is supposed to mean doing less work, not more. Laurie Rowell explains how to save time and effort by letting those zippy built-in field codes automate word-processing chores.
Like this article? We recommend

This article is not just for those confident users of Word who haven't worked much with field codes, but also for those writers who view the employment of anything called "codes" as only slightly more fun than, say, licking the garage floor clean. To be fair to this latter group, field codes can be fiddly. When you don't understand how they work, there's always the worry that something will go wrong—something as paralyzing and hard to counter as your dear Aunt Sally driving in and parking the SUV on your tongue.

The solution is to keep your approach simple: Get an overview of the basics, understand a bit about how they work, and then begin to build your repertoire. Once you get the hang of it, using fields is like using any other system of magic—you follow the rules, you get mystical servants to do the dirty work. In other words, that metaphorical floor is spotless and you keep your taste buds intact.

So let's talk about setting these servants—ahem, fields to work for you.

What Are Field Codes?

Most of us have grown used to the idea that we can update text in a word processor. A field is just a chunk of text that you have Word verify or update for you. It allows you to insert changeable data. In other words, by inserting a field, you delegate the chore of keeping up with that information to the computation of the program. When you insert a field in Word, either by selecting the Field command in the Insert menu or pressing Ctrl+F9, Word inserts code in your document that explains just what criteria Word is going to use to insert and update the information that you want in this specific spot.

Naturally, the work that you can delegate to fields involves the kind of labor best suited to machines rather than humans: chores that involve counting, searching, replacing, and checking someplace other than in the text you're currently typing. Things that are too tedious to leave to us creative types.

  • + Share This
  • 🔖 Save To Your Account