h1

Word: Fields won’t update

January 18, 2019

I’ve been using Microsoft Word for Windows since about Word 2.0 (yes, more than two decades…) but sometimes it still stops me in my tracks with something I didn’t know existed. And I usually ‘find’ the thing that I didn’t know existed because I’ve come across something in a document that I can’t solve and have to investigate (search Google) to find the cause and the solution.

In a recent document I was editing, I could update the TOC, list of figures/tables, and the fields in the headers/footers using one or more of the usual methods (switch to Print Preview view then back to Print Layout; F9; right-click and select Update Field; update table of contents command etc.).

I’d assumed all the cross-referenced fields in the document had also updated and did my usual check for ‘Error!’ to find anything that broke during the update. On this document I fully expected several of them, but there were none. That in itself was a little unusual especially as I’d redone the Appendix headings, so the original cross-references to them should have broken. But what told me definitively that something wasn’t right was that old template used 3.0, 4.0 etc. for the numbered Heading 1 style, whereas the new template I’d transferred this document to used 3, 4, etc. When I Ctrl+clicked on a 3.0 cross-reference (for example) it went to the correct place. But why wasn’t the cross-reference showing as 3 instead of 3.0?

I thought I’d just try updating one of these cross-referenced fields, but when I selected it and right-clicked, Update Field was grayed out (greyed out). I’d never seen that before, so I tried a few more with the same result—I couldn’t update a cross-reference!

Off to Google… where I found that if the fields are locked (who knew?) then you get a grayed out Update Field option. I had no idea you could even lock fields (or why you’d want to), but I figured I’d try unlocking one of the fields using the method described to see if it worked. It did! Next, I tested (on a COPY of the document, as always) to see if I could select the entire document and apply the fix to ALL fields in the document—that worked too! Immediately all the fields in the document were now updatable.

The fix (test on a copy of your document first):

  • Press Ctrl+Shift+F11 on the locked field to unlock it.
  • To unlock ALL fields in the document, press Ctrl+A to select everything, then press Ctrl+Shit+F11 to unlock all the fields.

Thanks to Charles Kenyon for having a list of field functions, which is where I found this solution: http://www.addbalance.com/usersguide/fields.htm#Function.

[Links last checked January 2019]

 

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: