Updating Your Fields

One of the best things about fields is that you can update them automatically. F9 is the magic key:

  • To update a single field, place your insertion point within it and press F9.

  • To update more than one field, select the block of copy that contains all the fields you want to update, and press F9. Or, after you select all the fields, right-click on one of them and choose Update Field from the shortcut menu.

  • To update all the fields in a document, press Ctrl+A and then press F9. In a long document, this can take a little while. If necessary, you can stop the process by pressing Esc.

  • When you insert a field using Ctrl+F9, Word doesn't update the field until you press F9.


Updating with F9 doesn't affect certain fields, whose functions don't require constant updates. This includes the following fields: { AUTONUM }, { AUTONUMLGL }, { AUTONUMOUT }, { EQ }, { GOTOBUTTON }, { MACROBUTTON }, and { PRINT }.


If Word fails to update fields properly, see "What to Do When a Field Won't Update Properly," in the "Troubleshooting" section of this chapter.

Updating Fields When You Print

By default, Word does not update fields when you print a document. For many users, this makes sense: They want to stay in control of when their fields update, and not have Word do it for them without warning. However, if you want to make sure that your printed document always reflects the most current information available, you may want Word to always update fields before printing. To instruct Word to do so, choose Tools, Options and click the Print tab. Then, check Update Fields in the Printing Options area.

Locking Fields to Prevent Them from Updating

Suppose that you want to temporarily prevent a field from being updated, even as you update fields surrounding it. For instance, suppose that you've prepared a report that uses an { INCLUDETEXT } field to display first-quarter results stored in a table in another document. One of these days, you might update the source table. But that doesn't mean you'll necessarily want the numbers in your executive report to change. If they did, your written analysis and the figures in the document wouldn't match.

To prevent a field from updating, you can lock it. First, place your insertion point in the field (or select text that includes several fields). Then, press Ctrl+F11 or Alt+Ctrl+F1. When you try to update this field, Word displays a message that the field is locked and cannot be updated.

To unlock a field so that it can once again be updated, place your insertion point in the field and press Ctrl+Shift+F11 or Alt+Ctrl+Shift+F1.

Unlinking Fields to Replace Them with Their Current Values

You might decide you never want to update a field. For example, imagine that you're completely finished with your document, and you're exporting it to a desktop publishing program that doesn't recognize Word field codes.

Word lets you permanently replace the field codes with the most recently updated field results. This is called unlinking. To unlink one or more fields, select them and press Ctrl+Shift+F9.


To be sure that the unlinked information is up-to-date before you unlink the field, first select it and then press F9 (or right-click and choose Update Fields) to update it.

Unlinking a field prevents an action field from working but has no effect on a marker field. For example, if you unlink all the fields in your document, you can still build an index based on { XE } index entry fields you inserted earlier.


Except for marker fields, after you unlink a field, the field is gone forever (unless you click Undo immediately or close the document without saving changes). If you have any reason to suspect that you might someday need the document automation provided by the field, save a duplicate copy of the file with all fields still in place.

    Part I: Word Basics: Get Productive Fast
    Part II: Building Slicker Documents Faster
    Part III: The Visual Word: Making Documents Look Great
    Part IV: Industrial-Strength Document Production Techniques
    Part VI: The Corporate Word