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: Maintaining Fields in a Merged Document.

Maintaining Fields in a Merged Document

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated January 24, 2017)


Jacqueline asked if it is possible to maintain cross-reference fields in a merged Word document. It seems that when the merge is done, the cross-references are converted to plain text.

Word is actually designed to behave this way, and for good reason. Consider your source document for just a moment. If you have a cross-reference to a paragraph, that is fine. Now, suppose you merge this source document with ten data records. Now, instead of one referenced paragraph you have ten copies of the same paragraph—all in the same document. To which of the ten paragraphs should the cross-reference exist? Now imagine the cross-reference confusion if you merge with fifty or a hundred data records. Since Word has no way of knowing how the cross-reference should be maintained, it converts the cross-reference to plain text.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (1736) 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: Maintaining Fields in a Merged Document.

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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What is five less than 8?

2017-02-21 09:24:11


This reasoning seems counter intuitive to the purpose of a cross reference. Why would you ever use the cross reference feature if it is converted to text in the final document? The desire of using the cross reference feature is that as Sections/paragraphs are added/removed the reference is updated.
Is there an option/method that a user can implement in a template so that after the merge occurs and the document is later edited, the reference is updated?

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