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Where Would I Use Fields?

The question of where you would use fields is largely dependent on the field you intend to use. You're unlikely to be including an ASK field in your letter of resignation or a Database field in your new résumé. So, depending on the field in question, you might be inserting it into a single document, a template, or a form.

Using Fields in Individual Documents

Let's start with that individual document. You probably already use the fields that control pagination. When you tell Word to insert the page number or "page x of y" in the header or footer of your document, you're inserting a field—one that will obligingly update the page number as you work. You might also be using date or filename fields so that information you might change later will be automatically updated as you go. Hyperlinks, bookmarks, tables of contents, and index reference fields are frequently used in single documents.

Using Fields in Templates

Fields are used more extensively in templates, where you can really get a lot of mileage out of their ability to update information. After all, any document opened in a template can make use of its fields. You can open a blank document using one of Word's built-in letter templates, for example, to see the fields that require you to provide information. If you try this, press Alt+F9 so that Word will display the field codes.


To open a new document in a letter template, click New on the File menu. Then, in the taskbar under Template, select On My Computer. For your new document, you can choose any letter template provided by Word.

In fact, a template designed for any document set might use fields to good purpose. Fields for title, author, indexes, tables of contents, page numbering, bookmarks, AutoText, and dates are frequently included to improve template utility. In fact, the title page I suggest creating later in this article contains a few of these fields.

Using Fields in Forms

Word fields reach their most complex use in forms. This is because forms call for specific information presented in a specific fashion and demand input from a second party. In Word, you can set up interactive forms with check boxes, drop-down menu choices, and fill-in-the-blank capability. Fields drive this interactivity.

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