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Date Last Edited

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: Date Last Edited.

Kathy asked if there was a way to insert a field in Word that displays the date that the document was last edited. The answer is a resounding yes—and no.

Word maintains a wide array of statistics related to your document. You can see most of these by choosing the Properties option from the File menu. Many of these properties can be inserted in your document through the use of fields. The key field related to "last edited date" is the property that shows on the Statistics tab that is labeled "Modified." (See Figure 1.) This date is inserted in a document through the use of the SAVEDATE field.

Figure 1. The Statistics tab of the Properties dialog box.

There is a huge caveat here, however: Saving does not equal editing, on many different levels. First of all, if I edit a document right now, walk away from it for an hour, and then do nothing else except save it, the SAVEDATE will represent the time when I saved the document, not an hour earlier when I last edited it. In addition, if I open a document, make no changes, and simply save it right away, the SAVEDATE is updated.

Given the obvious disparity between editing and saving, one could reasonably ask why Word doesn't track when edits were last done, separate from when a document was last saved. The answer is sort of simple—there is no real way to tell when edits were last made because there is no clear understanding of what constitutes an edit. For example, most people would agree that changing a character or two in a document is an edit. How about when fields are updated in a document? Does that count as an edit? Some would say yes, and others no. How about when links are refreshed, or when a macro is run? How about when repagination is done in the background, or when the spelling and grammar checker underlines questionable words?

You get the idea. The bottom line is that it is easier for Word to simply track when a document was last saved, rather than trying to second-guess what passes for a valid edit. Provided you save your document right after you make your edits (and only then), the SAVEDATE field will reflect the last time you made edits.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (1742) 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: Date Last Edited.

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Comments for this tip:

Steve    24 Oct 2012, 14:38
But, there appear to be other disparities, as well:

Last Saved By: appears to remain the name of the person actually editing a file.

Modification Date: appears to change often when I don't touch the file or make no changes.

Total editing time appears NOT to change unless edits are actually made.

I'm confused.

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