Big doc solutions: Subdocuments

Word has two strategies you can use to create composite documents from subdocuments. A subdocument is just a Word document that will eventually become part of a larger Word document.

The master document

Insert a cover page, if you’ll be using one. Replace any hard page breaks with Section BreakBreaks-Next Page (Page Layout tab, Page Setup group, Breaks button). If you want to include a table of contents, this is the place to do it. On the References tab, on the far left, click the Table of Contents button. Don’t worry if you see the message “No table of contents entries found.” Later on, you will right-click this text and update the field. It will magically become a table of contents. Insert another Section Break-Next Page. In this next blank page, you will begin inserting subdocuments.

Creating subdocuments

To make either strategy work, you should use Styles. You only need to format the topic for each document as a Heading 1, but you may also use additional heading styles for subheadings. These Heading 1 formatted topics will eventually appear in the table of contents that you created above. Type your topic title, before pressing enter. To begin your first paragraph, press Ctrl+Alt+1, or click on the Heading 1 button in the Styles Gallery. Don’t worry too much about formatting here; you will make adjustments to font types and colors to the styles in your master document. Close and save all documents, and open the master.

Constructing the master document

Strategy No. 1: In this case we do mean an actual Master Document, which is created in Word from the Outline view. Click on the View tab, and click the Outline button. Then, in the Master document group of the Outlining tab, click the Show Documents button. With the Insert button you now see, insert each document in the order you planned. When you have inserted all the documents, close the Outline view.

Strategy No. 2: Press Ctrl+F9. In theShow document field presented inside the curly brackets, type “IncludeText” (no spaces between words). From the file properties in File Explorer, or using the Copy path button in the File Explorer ribbon, copy the file. Paste it after IncludeText. Change all “” symbols to “\”. Be sure the entire path is enclosed in double quotes so it looks like this: { IncludeText “C:\Users\Name\Desktop\Temp\TopicA.docx” }

Repeat this for each subdocument. Select all your links, and press F9. That should reveal all linked documents.

Finishing up

Now go to your table of contents area and right-click the error text and choose Update Field. That should populate your table of contents and leave you with a printable document. You can add headers, footers and page numbers. The page numbers will be continuous, as if this was a single document. Any changes made to the subdocuments can be up­­dated in either type of master document.