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Creating a Master Document Using Existing Subdocuments

Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. If you are using a later version (Word 2007 or later), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for later versions of Word, click here: Creating a Master Document Using Existing Subdocuments.

If you have a series of existing documents for which you want to create a master document, Word makes the process very easy. For instance, you may have chapters for an employee manual, and each chapter is stored in its own Word document. To combine such chapters into a master document, follow these steps:

  1. Open the document you want to use as your master document. This can be either an existing file (such as the preface to your manual), or it can be a new document you are creating for this purpose.
  2. Switch to Outline view. Word displays the Outlining toolbar. If you are using Word 97 choose Master Document from the View menu. This displays both the outline toolbar and the Master Document toolbar.
  3. Position the insertion point where you want the subdocument to appear.
  4. Click the appropriate tool in order to insert a subdocument. (See the explanation below.) Word displays the Insert Subdocument dialog box, which looks like a standard Open dialog box.
  5. Use the dialog box controls to select the document you want used as a subdocument.
  6. Click on Open. The file is inserted as a subdocument, as you specified.
  7. Repeat steps 3 through 6 for each document you want to include in the master.

In Word 97, the Master Document view is very similar to the Outline view used in newer versions. If you would rather not work in Master Document or Outline view, you can choose any of the other views you desire. When you later save your master document, any changes to the subdocuments are also automatically saved. When you later open the master document, all the subdocuments are again opened and displayed as part of the master.

What you precisely do in step 4 depends on the version of Word you are using. If you are using Word 97, you use the Insert Subdocument tool on the Master Document toolbar. If you are using Word 2000, Word 2002, or Word 2003, you use the Insert Subdocument tool on the Outlining toolbar.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (1739) applies to Microsoft Word 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. You can find a version of this tip for the ribbon interface of Word (Word 2007 and later) here: Creating a Master Document Using Existing Subdocuments.

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Comments for this tip:

Lesli    19 Oct 2016, 13:06
I am trying to convert a word 2003 master and subdocument files into a word 2010 set of files. The hyperlinks exist but the file cannot be expanded to show the subdocument within the master.

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

Thank you!
Susan Goodine    08 Mar 2016, 11:55
I was wondering if I can create a document/form and then use the same document in other documents and when I make a change in the main document the changes will subsequently be changed in any documents that the original is used in.

Thanks.
Fred    30 Mar 2015, 15:54
Is there a way to 'batch' all the subdocuments so I don't have to repeat the process of adding a single subdocument one at a time?

My example is I have a standard form with a photo / map. I have a 100 of them and would like them in a 'master document.' Do I have to insert 100 sub-documents until I have them all?

I tried to select the top file in the Insert Subdocument pop-up - and go to the bottom and press Shift for the last one (hoping it would select them all), but alas it didn't let me. Is repeating the process for each file my only option?

Best regards,
Fred.
Toni    23 Aug 2014, 11:10
Thank you so much! I started writing a family history book and of course the chapters are out of order. I had thought I might copy and past them into a new document but I hesitate to do that. They contain a lot of pictures and Word doesn't always handle that the best. I'm unlearning the professional publishing software I know and trying to teach myself Word. This old dog isn't doing so well with the new tricks!
 
 

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