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Fields and Links and Controls, Oh My!

In a previous post we looked at using Word's built-in Find and Replace functionality to customize our proposal content.  In that example, we used simple highlighted text to serve as placeholders.

In this post we will look at three other types of built-in Word objects that help us automate the process of customization:  Field, Links and Content Controls. 

Fields

Microsoft Word Fields are one of the oldest forms of automation available in Word.  To insert a Field, go to the Insert Tab on the Word Ribbon, and click on 'Field' from the Quick Parts drop-down:

Select Field from Quick Parts drop-down menu. 

The Fields Dialog Box presents a long list of possible Fields to choose from:

Fields Dialog Box

In this post we will look at one example:  the 'Ref' Field.   This field will 'Refer' back to a bookmarked section of the document, and display the bookmarked contents.  For example,  we select the following content:

Sample Content to be repeated 

Next we add a Bookmark:

Add Bookmark 

We return to the Fields Dialogbox.  Note,  when we select the 'Ref' field, a list of Bookmarks in the current document also appears:

Select REF as Field, will display list of available Bookmarks.

Here is the resulting 'Ref' field inserted into the Word Document:

REF Field Code

 

To update a Field, right click to see the following pop-up menu:

Right Click to see Field Pop-up Menu. 

Expedience TIP:  Shortcut Key Ctrl+F9 Updates all Fields contained in the current selection. 

Links

The most common form of Microsoft Word Links are Links to Microsoft Excel.  Theses Links can point to entire Spreadsheet tables,  charts, or even single cells of data.  The simplest way to insert an Excel Link is to open Excel, Select and Copy the desired range to the clipboard.

Open Word and place the cursor in the desired Link Location.  Go to the Home tab on the Word Ribbon and select 'Paste Special':

Paste Special Unformatted Link to Excel.

In this case we are pasting a Link, so that when the Link is updated it will display the current data from Excel.  

Expedience TIP:  to blend a Link to an Excel Cell value within other Word content,  select  the 'Unformatted Text' option in the Paste Special Dialog box.

Unlike Word Fields which must be updated manually or through code,  you can set Links to be updated automatically.  Select a Link and Right Click to see a pop-up menu of Link options:

Pop-up menu of Link Options

Select the option 'Links..." to set Automatic Link updating:

Set Auto-Update on Excel Link 

Content Controls

Content Controls were first introduced by Microsoft in Word 2007 and enhanced in Word 2010 and 2013.  

Content Controls appear in many of the built-in Word Building Blocks,  such as in the Cover Page Example below: 

  Sample of Content Controls in Cover Page 

You can access the Content Controls from the Word ‘Developer’ tab. 

Content Controls displayed on Developers tab. 

 There are 7 types of controls are available since Office 2007:

  1. Rich Text
  2. Text Box
  3. Picture
  4. Gallery
  5. Combo Box
  6. Dropdown List
  7. Date Picker

Office 2010 adds ‘Check Box’ Controls.  Office 2013 adds ‘Repeater’ Controls.

At Expedience we use them extensively to Automate Custom Content. The Expedience Automation Studio enhances the functionality of the Content Controls to make templates easier to develop and use.

 
 
 
 
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Wednesday, 20 September 2017

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