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.

Creating a Master Document Using Existing Subdocuments

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated March 16, 2024)
This tip applies to Word 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003


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.

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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