Word: How to make popups in Word, using Word

November 26, 2020

Add another to my list of ‘I didn’t know you could do this!’ Did you know you can add tooltip-style popups for certain text when you hover over it? However, my testing since I posted this video link shows there are several issues with this (I’ve documented these results after the second video).

Here’s a 90-second YouTube video that explains how: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lk-n4MZIwcs

Having now tested this method (above), which uses the AutoTextList field code (results below the next video), I can’t recommend it.

Instead, I found another method that uses bookmarks and hyperlinks and that seems to work much better and give you more options for adding quite an amount of text (about 1800 characters, instead of the 255 character limit of the field code method above). And it seems to work every time. The bookmark/hyperlink method I recommend is shown in this 9.5 minute YouTube video (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wvtO24e9gv4):

For those interested, here are the results from my testing of the field code method (first video above). I wanted to see if the popup text:

  • retains the style of the paragraph it is in — no, but the keyword does
  • has a word or character limit — yes, 255 characters, including spaces
  • works on a phrase, not just a keyword — couldn’t test as it deleted my next attempts and left a blank space
  • can be used several times — couldn’t test as stuff kept disappearing
  • translates into popup text when you save the Word doc as PDF — no
  • translates into popup text when you save the Word doc as HTML — no
  • prints — no (and the option to print AutoText entries only prints the AutoText entries you’ve defined using the AutoText function, NOT the tooltip AutoTextList field entries)
  • adds items to your AutoText entries — no.

I also wanted to know what the \s, \t, and NoStyle items in the field code represent and if their order matters:

  • \s — ‘defines the content for the field’; this is the keyword you put into the ‘word seen’ bit of the field. It MUST go after AutoTetxtList and can either go before or after the keyword
  • \t — ‘defines the tip for the field’; this is the text you want to popup when you hover over the keyword. The order matters — this MUST go in front of the tooltip text
  • NoStyle — sets the style for the tooltip text to ‘NoStyle’. I changed this to Emphasis (a character style) and nothing happened to either the word or the tooltip text (I expected it to be styled with italics). I then set up a character style for red text and a para style for green text and tried those—nothing worked, so it looks like no matter what you set for the style, it will still be formatted as per the underlying text of the paragraph it is in. The order doesn’t matter, except that thiis MUST go after AutoTextList; I tried it in front of the ‘word seen’ bit, at the end of the field code, and the tooltip still worked.

While I got this to work a couple of times, I couldn’t get it to work consistently (I was testing with Word 365 for Windows). It has some severe limitations; for example:

  • If you change the ‘word seen’ bit at a later time, the original word you wrote remains and the new text doesn’t get recognised.
  • At times in my testing Word would delete my ‘word seen’ bit altogether and I don’t know why. I tried to add this as a field using the Quick Parts > Field options and entering the context work (keyword) and tooltip text there, but that disappeared too.
  • I found that using F9 would cause the keyword to disappear and therefore the popup didn’t work at all.
  • Without being able to style the keyword differently, this function isn’t very useful to the reader if they don’t have field shading turned on as they can’t tell which words have got tooltips associated with them except by hovering over every word.

Note: Alt+F9 toggles all the field codes on and off.

[Links last checked November 2020]

One comment

  1. These are dandy! Thanks for posting them.

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