Archive for the ‘Word’ Category


Word: Excellent presentation on some advanced tips for Microsoft Word

September 26, 2022

Canadian editor, Adrienne Montgomerie, recently did a presentation for the Northwest Editors Guild (based in Seattle). In it she covers a whole lot of Microsoft Word tricks that editors (and writers) can use in their daily work:

Her presentation runs for nearly 2 hours but it’s chock full of hints and tips. If you want to get through it a little quicker, adjust YouTube’s playback speed.

One thing I learned from this presentation that I’d never tried or seen in action was Immersive Reader (on the View tab)—I can see myself using some of those functions (like screen background colour) very soon. Track changes works in Immersive Reader view and nothing about the document’s layout changes, just how you see it on the screen. it looks perfect for editors who need to concentrate closely on particular aspects of a document without being distracted by other stuff.

Another thing I learned (maybe I knew it already but I’ve rarely used it) was that in addition to rearranging a document using Outline view (View tab), you can also move sections around within the Navigation pane. Just turn off track changes if you’re going to do this—Adrienne explains why in her presentation.

She also talks about adding a custom tab—I have full steps for doing that and for customising your Quick Access Toolbar in these posts:

[Link last checked September 2022]



Word: Text surrounding a cross-reference shows in list of tables

September 7, 2022

One of my clients contacted me about some weirdness she was experiencing with some table cross-references (x-refs) in Word. Some table captions weren’t listed in the list of table at the beginning of the document—instead, the text surrounding the x-refs to these captions was listed. To explain this better, here’s what was showing in the list of tables (I’ve blurred out some text to preserve anonymity; click each image to view it larger): 

As you can see in the screenshot, the first instance of Table 10-10 reports the caption correctly, but the second one is in bold AND it shows 5 lines of the surrounding text AND other table numbers (x-refs) are mentioned in that text. Table 10-12 and Table 10-13 are both correct. This is not something I’ve ever seen before, as far as I know.

My first step was to click the link to that incorrect line item in the list of tables. I then reset the paragraph to the default style by selecting it and pressing Ctrl+spacebar, just in case there was an errant style that was causing the problem.

And then I noticed that while the first two x-refs (Table 10-10 and Table 10-11) in the text were both full fields (as evidenced by the grey shading, shown below; ignore the other grey for the blurring), the next x-ref for Table 10-11 wasn’t—only the section and table numbers had the grey shading that indicated they were fields, not the entire table number and the word ‘Table’, as you should see with a correct table x-ref. (As an aside, I always show field shading in a Word document as it shows me where the fields are and is thus a visual reminder NOT to touch them when writing or editing; in Word for Windows, you turn on field shading under File > Options > Advanced > Show Document Content — set Field Shading to Always.)

To confirm these were different types of fields, I right clicked on each and selected Toggle Field Codes. This confirmed that I was looking at quite different field types. Table and other x-refs should start with { Ref , which is what the first two showed, but the third one had different types of field codes, one for each number, as shown in the screenshot below.

And I recognised that the types of field codes for the incorrect one were the same field codes used in table captions, NOT table x-refs. (Don’t forget to right click in the fields again and select Toggle Field Codes to show them as they should be.)

I think I know how it happened—someone COPIED the table number part of a caption, pasted it and then restyled it like the surrounding text, thinking that was all they had to do to insert a x-ref. But of course, it isn’t a true x-ref—just a copy of the caption, which is why the sentence it was in was appearing in the list of tables.

The solution was to remove the incorrect text and fields and replace them with correctly inserted x-refs. Once I did this, I updated the list of tables and everything was fine again.

(Note: You may also have to update all the fields in the document too as it’s likely that the copied caption caused the other caption numbers to update and they are likely incorrect. In my case, I had to update the fields twice—once to get the caption numbering correct, then a second time to get the x-refs to those caption numbers correct. But typically you only need to update the fields once.)

See also:

And for solving other table of contents weirdness, see these blogs posts too:

[Links last checked September 2022]


Word: Update all fields in a document

September 7, 2022

I thought I’d blogged about this years again, but apparently not!

If you need to update all the fields in your document, there’s a quick way to do it in Word for Windows:

  1. Turn OFF Track Changes.
  2. Check again that Track Changes is OFF (yes, I put this in twice because if track changes is on, you can get all sorts of problems).
  3. Go to File > Print, but DO NOT print anything. This puts the document into Print Preview mode, and doing that automatically updates most of the fields ready for printing.
  4. Click the back button to return to the document.

Most of the fields in all parts of the document will have updated, except perhaps the table of contents, list of tables and list of figures—update these manually.

Now check for and resolve any errors—search for Error! and if you use section numbering, search also for Section 0 (or Chapter 0 or Part 0, however you cross-reference the sections/chapters/parts in your document). Reassign the correct cross-reference for those that are broken. A broken cross-reference typically means that the section number, table, figure, or appendix no longer exists—if it has just moved, the number should have updated.


Word: Outline numbered headings start at a number other than 1

August 4, 2022

A client has a 300+ page document that goes back to their client, and then into that client’s SharePoint system where many authors work on it. Occasionally the outline numbering goes awry. Instead of Heading 1s (H1) starting from 1, they might start from 15, so the first section heading is 15 instead of 1 and the second is 16 instead of 2 etc. Added to this, the Heading 2 (H2) and Heading 3 (H3) numbers have also started from another number (e.g. H2 might start at 4, so you get section 1.4 as the first H2 in section 1, with 1.5 as the next; H3s might start from 8, so instead of 1.1.1, you might get 1.1.8 followed by 1.1.9).

I haven’t figured out what causes this behaviour (both my client and I suspect SharePoint!), but after the first time I got it on their document, I tried all sorts of things before finding a way to fix it.

First I tried right-clicking on the headings and selecting Restart at 1. That didn’t work. Then I tried setting the numbering via the styles. That didn’t work either. What did work was resetting the start number under the Multilevel List numbering settings. Here’s how:

  1. Put your cursor at the first letter after the heading number.
  2. Go to Home > Paragraph and click the drop-down arrow next to the Multilevel list numbering icon.
  3. Click Define New Multilevel List.
  4. On the Define New Multilevel List window, click More.
  5. On the right of the window, find the Start At value and change it to 1. DO NOT change anything else on this screen – there lie dragons!!!
  6. Click OK.
  7. If the erroneous numbering was for Heading 1, then you don’t need to do anything more. But if it’s for Heading 2 (if H1 is wrong, H2 and possibly H3 likely will be too), then you’ll need to repeat these steps for the FIRST H2 in EACH new H1 section—getting it right for the first one will auto flow through to the other H2s in that section. Same if H3 is wrong—go to the first H3 in EACH H2 section and repeat the steps.

Word: Table cells won’t align

July 13, 2022

A client had an issue with a Word table—the cells, columns, and rows wouldn’t align no matter what she did. I’ve encountered similar situations many times (possibly because track changes is on when people add/remove table rows or cells, or they try do things with merged table cells without realising that they are merged, or they try to join one table to another). Invariably my ‘go to’ method (after spending a few minutes and getting nowhere) is to start a new table from scratch and copy/paste the cell information into it. Tedious for sure, but sometimes it’s the only way to salvage your sanity—and the table!

However, a few weeks ago I read about another trick to get table cells to align (the first method listed here:, so I thought I’d try that on the client’s table as a first step, and it worked beautifully!

Here’s what her table looked like—I’ve blurred the content, and added arrows pointing to where things went wrong. In addition to the columns not aligning, the row ends didn’t align, and some parts of the table were missing borders.

Here’s how I aligned it in just a couple of seconds (Word 365 for Windows):

  1. Select the whole table.
  2. Go to the Layout tab (the one to the right of the Table Design tab—NOT the one for page layout).
  3. Go to the Cell Size group.
  4. In the Cell Size group, put a small value in the Width field (I used 0.2 cm). This gives you a narrow table.
  5. Click the drop-down arrow for AutoFit, then choose AutoFit Window. Your table columns and rows should now be aligned and you can now adjust them, as necessary.

NOTE: I’ve since had further issues, and this trick didn’t work for them all. The tables it didn’t work on all had some merged cells, so I split cells to get them back to the same number of columns as the main table, and then this trick worked. If you still need to keep those cells merged, then make sure no further changes will be done to the table and remerge as necessary (or use no borders for the cell dividers if you don’t want to remerge).

[Link last checked July 2022]


Word: Format all cross-references as bold

June 17, 2022

One of my clients does work for a [big company], and I do the occasional bit of work for them. The [big company] wants the all cross-references (x-refs) in bold type (e.g. Table 1-4, Figure 2-10, Appendix F, Section 10.8 etc.). But there’s no way that I’ve found in Word to set this as an automatic attribute when creating x-refs (if anyone knows how, let me know in the comments). So bold has to be applied manually, and for a 400p document with hundreds of x-refs, that’s tedious for the authors and for me as the editor when some have been missed.

However, there is a way to bold ALL the x-refs at any time (ideally as one of the finalisation stages when working on a document). And it’s a simple find and replace solution (no wildcards involved!), but you do have to expose the field codes for it to work.

How to do this:

  1. Make a new copy of your document using Save As (this is just in case anything goes drastically wrong—it shouldn’t, but you never know).
  2. Select the entire document using Ctrl+a.
  3. Press Alt+F9 to toggle (and display) the field codes.
  4. Press Ctrl+h to open the Find and Replace window.
  5. In the Find field type: ^19 REF (^19 represents a field and the REF tells Word to look for a field that also has REF as part of its code—this gets all the x-refs but ignores things like the table of contents and other field codes).
  6. Click More.
  7. Put your cursor in the Replace field but DO NOT TYPE anything here.
  8. Click Format.
  9. Select Font.
  10. Select Bold in the middle panel at the top of the Font dialog box.
  11. If your cursor was in the Replace field, then immediately below that field Font: Bold displays. (If your cursor was still in the Find field, then Font: Bold will display under that, and that’s not what you want—go back and repeat from step 7.)
  12. Click Replace All.
  13. When the replace has finished, close the Find and Replace window
  14. Press Alt+F9 to toggle the field codes back to readable x-ref numbers etc.
  15. You may need to update the fields after doing this, just to make sure the bold is applied to them all. To do this, go to File > Print (which puts you in Print Preview mode), DO NOT PRINT, then go back to your document—this updates all your fields. Check your table of contents etc. If all the page numbers are the same, update the table of contents etc. separately as you normally would.
  16. If you’re happy with the changes made, continue using the ‘saved as’ document as your current version, or repeat these steps in the earlier current version you saved from (your versioning processes may differ).

I got my inspiration for this post from this very long webpage, written by Susan Barnhill, one of the Word gurus:


Word to PDF: Table of Contents not clickable

May 6, 2022

One of my clients had a situation where the table of contents (TOC) in their Word document did not become a clickable (linked) TOC in the PDF they created from it. By default, it should. because the standard settings for clickable links in a PDF are to include the usual Heading styles from Word. They had used standard Heading styles, so there was no reason why they shouldn’t be linked. Other elements such as cross-references to sections, appendices, tables, and figures all worked fine in the PDF, but not the TOC entries.

I checked their TOC settings and there I found the reason and the solution. NOTE: You can’t open these TOC settings if you’ve inserted a default (Microsoft-supplied) TOC from the References tab—you must have inserted a custom TOC.

  1. Open the Table of Contents window (References tab > Table of Contents > Custom Table of Contents).
  2. Make sure the Use hyperlinks… checkbox is selected. This checkbox is selected by default, so if it’s been turned off at some point, turn it on.
  3. Click OK.

Now, create your PDF—the TOC in the PDF should now be clickable.

Update June 2022: For a full discussion of the different PDF outputs when you Save as or Print to PDF from Word, see this excellent article:


SharePoint: Won’t open a Word document in Office 365

March 15, 2022

I need to state upfront that I HATE SharePoint (SP) with the passion of a thousand burning suns!

Now that I’ve got that out of the way, I’m hoping someone reading this can help me find a solution as to why I can’t open a Word document in SP using my installed Office 365 version of Word (NOT Word Online, which I hate almost as much as SP!)

A bit of background…

  • My client sent me a link to a document stored on their SP server. I couldn’t access it and let them know.
  • They added me as a legitimate user, using my standard email address (, and I got a welcome message from their SP server, with a link to the area containing the documents I needed to access.
  • I have several Microsoft (MS) accounts as I work for different clients who need me to access their SP servers, AND I’m a member of the Microsoft Partner Network for the Action Pack Subscription. I tried the first two I have and the one that uses my email address (as above) got me in. (NOTE: Microsoft seems to think that everyone only has ONE ID and only works for ONE employer/client—freelancers are really in a bind with the multiple credentials they may have to access anything from MS via the internet)
  • I could see the client’s folders and documents (yay!).
  • I opened the Word document they wanted me to look at but Word Online has limited functionality and I needed to get in deep, so I found the option for opening in the desktop app. I wanted to do that in preference to downloading the document as it would remain in SP, whereas with downloading it, I’d have to either upload it again (and I likely didn’t have permission for that), OR I’d have to email it to my client or put it in Dropbox if it was too big to email and then they had to upload it to replace the original. Clunky.

It’s at the desktop app step that I ran into a big issue that I can’t resolve. What happened? Well, when I said to open in the desktop app, SP ONLY offered the option of opening the doc in Office 2010, which I still have on my PC but which I never use (I held onto it when I went to Office 365, just in case I needed to go back to it). There was no option to open it in Office 365, which is what I use. My only other option was to cancel, which is what I did.

I let my client know, and headed off to Google to see if others have had similar issues. I found all sorts of horror stories about uninstalling Office 2010 well after Office 365 was installed, other info about repairing Office 365, and almost nothing on the interaction between SP and an old version of Office when a new one is installed. I may well have been clutching at straws with my search terms… However, I did find one website that offered a possible reason (#6 in their list):

And that possible reason was to do with the account you’re signed in with. I mentioned earlier that my email address (and one of my MS accounts) is, but my Office 365 account ID is (i.e. no lastname). I then asked my client to add me with that email address, which he did, hoping that would be the answer. But then he got error messages from SP on his end. And the link he sent me didn’t work either (different error messages to those I got initially—something about my address not being valid!). So he’s given up too.

I can still go old school and download the documents to my local machine and email them back.

I also still think it’s related to the account I’m signed in with in Office, but I don’t want to try anything else in case I break it and can’t get back to where I was. Has anyone come across this and solved it? If so, please share your solution in the comments below.


[Link last checked March 2022]


Word: DocProperty field won’t update

March 15, 2022

My client’s doc had a DocProperty field in the footer for ‘Subject’, but no matter what I did with the content controls or the field code, it wouldn’t update to reflect the text in the ‘Subject’ Content Control on the title page.

But what I *did* notice when I was in the Edit Field window for that field was that there were TWO instances of ‘Subject’. Neither worked. So my next strategy was to delete one or both of them and start again. However, deleting a Document Property is fairly well hidden in later versions of Word, and I couldn’t find it easily—it certainly wasn’t where I expected it to be in the Developer tab: it’s only accessible via File > Info > Properties > Advanced Properties.

Access the document propeorties window by going to File > Info > Properties > Advanced Properties

Document Properties window with the Custom tab selected

Once I was on that screen, I saw that there’s an in-built property for ‘Subject’ on the Summary tab, and I found the other one on the Custom tab. I selected the one on the Custom tab, deleted it, then clicked OK. The DocProperty field in the footer then updated correctly to reflect the text in the Content Control.

NOTE: You can only select and delete custom properties that have had a value added for them and that have been added to the document.


Word: Custom heading styles cannot be used for caption numbering

March 7, 2022

Here are some things I found out last week when a client called and asked for help with table and figure captioning:

  • You can ONLY use chapter/section numbering in a table/figure etc. caption IF you use Word’s Heading 1 to Heading 9 styles for your headings (and they are set for outline numbering), as these are the ONLY options available to you on the Caption Numbering window of the Caption window
  • If you’ve created your own outline numbered heading style and called it MyCompany Heading 1, you cannot select that style for auto numbering the captions. (A little more info:
  • If you try to rename the in-built Heading 1 style to MyCompany Heading 1, then when you click OK, Word will change the style name to Heading 1,MyCompany Heading 1 (i.e. it will append your name to the Heading 1 style name)
  • If you right click immediately before the chapter numbering field in a caption and select Toggle Field, you’ll see { STYLEREF 1 \s }, where StyleRef is the field code, ‘1’ represents the heading number (1 = Heading 1), and \s is an undocumented switch code that I think means to reset the sequence after each Heading 1 (based on some information I found here for SEQ field codes:

So, what can you do? Well, you have a few options…

Option 1: Use Word’s Heading 1 style

The simplest option is to use Word’s Heading 1 style for your top-level headings. Style it according to what you want (font and paragraph settings, numbering, tabs etc., even add your own name to the style name), but don’t set up your own style for heading 1s if you also want to use auto numbered captions. There are other reasons to use Word’s own heading styles too—see this article for 16 reasons why:

Option 2: Modify the StyleRef field code

Update a week later: This option may NOT work successfully. When I tried it, I’d get one or two right, then I’d do another in a new heading and the first ones wouldn’t work, or I’d get a continuous sequence number for the second part of the caption number. 

This option is feasible if you use your own heading 1 style and only have a few captions. If you have many, it will become very tedious and hard for others to manage if they don’t know what you did. In this method, you’ll change the ‘1’ in the field code to the name of your own heading 1 style (I’ve used MyCompany Heading 1 as the example; your style name will be different):

  1. Right-click immediately before the chapter numbering field in a caption and select Toggle Field Codes. You should see { STYLEREF 1 \s }. If you don’t, then position your cursor immediately in front of the chapter number part of the caption number (the first number) and try again.
  2. Right-click in the field (anywhere inside the { } ), then select Edit Field.
  3. Select your own heading 1 style from the list, then click OK.
  4. The caption number should now reflect your custom heading 1 chapter/section number. If it says Error! No text of specified style in document. then either you don’t have any outline numbers for your custom heading 1 style or you haven’t used that style in your document.
  5. If you right-click on the field again, you should see { STYLEREF “MyCompany Heading 1” \s }, where MyCompany Heading 1 is the name of your custom heading 1 style.
  6. Repeat these steps for EVERY table/figure or other caption you have that uses chapter/section numbering as part of the caption.

Tip: Get one right, then copy/paste it to replace other captions, then update all the fields. I haven’t tried this, but it should work. Test on a couple first, not the several hundred you have—if it works on those, then repeat for the others you have.

Option 3: Use an add-in

In my searching for an answer to this issue, I found a free add-in that’s available from one of the very helpful people on the Word VBA forums:


  • I have NOT installed or used this add-in so I can’t comment on its usefulness or not; however, the author of it is someone I trust who knows their stuff.
  • The webpage for this add-in says that it works (has been tested) up to Word 2016. There’s a very good chance that it works with later versions of Word too, but as I haven’t tested it I can’t confirm that.
  • I suspect that this add-in might only work on Word for Windows—I don’t have Word for Mac so I can’t test it on that.

[Links last checked March 2022]