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: Suppressing ASK Fields When Printing.

Suppressing ASK Fields When Printing

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated July 5, 2016)

Fields provide quite a bit of processing power for your documents, as you learned from other issues of WordTips. The ASK field is one you can use to prompt users for text which is then assigned to a bookmark. (This is great for customizing boilerplate text on the fly.) Susan had problems with the ASK field, however, because not only did users get asked for their text once, but also a second time when the document was printed.

By default, Word updates all fields just prior to printing. If you have ASK fields in your document, this means that when they are updated the user is asked for text a second time. To avoid this behavior, follow these steps:

  1. Choose Options from the Tools menu. Word displays the Options dialog box.
  2. Click on the Print tab. (See Figure 1.)
  3. Figure 1. The Print tab of the Options dialog box.

  4. Make sure the Update Fields check box is selected.
  5. Click on OK.

Now Word won't update fields before printing. The only downside to this, however, is that other fields won't be automatically updated either. If you do have other fields in the document you may want to make sure that you update them manually prior to printing.

If manually updating fields is a bother, you may want to consider removing the ASK fields completely and instead designing a user form. Another alternative is to ask for user text under the control of a macro, and then use the macro to assign the text to bookmarks. (This is the same functionality as the ASK fields, but it only runs when you specifically want it to run.)

If such changes are not possible, you could turn on automatic updating of fields back on and instead use the following macro to print your document:

Sub CustomPrint()
    Dim afield As Field

    For Each afield In ActiveDocument.Fields
        If afield.Type = wdFieldAsk Then afield.Locked = True
    Next afield
    ActiveDocument.PrintOut
    For Each afield In ActiveDocument.Fields
        If afield.Type = wdFieldAsk Then afield.Locked = False
    Next afield
End Sub

The macro examines every field in your document, locking those that are ASK fields. The document is then printed, and the fields are again unlocked.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (1531) 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: Suppressing ASK Fields When Printing.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He  is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

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