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Using Unique Document Serial Numbers

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: Using Unique Document Serial Numbers.

There may be times you want to include a unique serial number in your documents, and the serial numbers must be specific and non-sequential. For instance, the first serial number could be X2417, the next one X2428, the third X2435, etc.

Assuming you know what serial numbers you need to use, the quickest way to handle this situation is to use the mail-merge features of Word to create your final documents. To do this, follow these general steps:

  1. Create a document that contains nothing but the serial numbers. Put the serial numbers in a table, one serial number per row. Make sure there is a header on the table, and the header is named something like "Serial Number."
  2. Load your target document, the one you want to contain the serial number.
  3. If you are using Word 97 or Word 2000, choose Mail Merge from the Tools menu to display the Mail Merge Helper dialog box. If you are using Word 2002 or Word 2003, choose Letters and Mailings from the Tools menu, then choose Mail Merge to display the Mail Merge task pane.
  4. Go through the steps of specifying your main document (the one you loaded in step 2) and your data source (the one you created in step 1).
  5. In your main document, insert a merge field that indicates where you want the serial number to appear.
  6. Print your mail-merged documents.

The primary advantage of this approach is that you can use non-sequential serial numbers. You can also change the contents of your serial number file whenever you need a new batch of documents, and simply print again.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (1746) 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: Using Unique Document Serial Numbers.

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