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Word properties: Built-in fill-ins

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in The Office Tech Pro

If you create letters, reports, contracts, memoranda or other documents that are very similar except for some key information, you may be able to save yourself some time. Let’s take a simple letter of agreement. In it, we’ll use the full company, as well as its city and state location, twice. We’ll also have a price for services and a deposit amount. With few exceptions, most everything else is the same.

Click on the File tab and notice the data on the right. These are the basic document properties. If we click on Show All Properties, we’ll see a few more.

Properties

In our case, we can make use of the Company field for our client, but we don’t see anything resembling our location and dollar amount fields. Click on the arrow next to Properties at the top of the list and you’ll see the Advanced Properties selection. Here’s where the magic happens.

In the Advanced Properties dialog box, click on the Custom card. Here, we can easily create the additional fields we need. Specify the field type and the starting value.

For example, you may type in ENTER CLIENT, CITY, ST, 0, 0 for starting values for our fields. If you don’t definitively need a number field, you can specify text and use ENTER TOTAL and ENTER DEPOSIT as the default values. Even if you’re using it in a table with a formula, the sum of two text items, for example, will simply be 0. Using all caps for these fields will give you a better chance of noticing that you haven’t entered values for them in Properties.

Next, incorporate these fields in your document. You’ll use a different method depending upon whether it’s in the listed properties or was created as a custom property. For listed properties, click on the Insert tab, and the Quick Parts button in the Text group. Hover over the Document Property selection.

Document property

If you don’t see your field here or are looking for a custom field, you’ll click on the Field selection and choose DocProperty. Here you’ll find all of your fields, including custom ones, that are available to choose from. Select it and click OK.

Once you’ve added your fields and completed your document, save it as a template by clicking on the File tab, Save as, and specifying a type of Word Template (.dotx). Give it a descriptive name such as Letter of Agreement to Client. Close it. To use it again, click on File, New, then choose your template from your Personal templates (which may be called My templates or Custom templates, depending upon version).

For each new document, click on the File tab to see the document properties. Change the values of the fields you can see and use the Advanced Properties dialog box to complete the custom fields on the Custom card.

Company

Take a look at your document. It’s all done! You might want to include a header page in your template that spells out all the field entries. Once you’ve “QC’d” your finished product, you can delete the page.

This is even easier if you store your documents in SharePoint. Any column you create in a document library automatically becomes a document property. You’ll see it when you click on Show All Properties.

However, if you make it a required field, you will not be able to save it without entering that property.

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