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 Two Versions of the Same Document.
by Allen Wyatt
(last updated January 4, 2020)
Barry is a teacher and likes to use Word to create handouts for his class. He also uses Word to create detailed notes for him to teach from. The detailed notes document is a superset of the handout. Barry is searching for the best way to "marry" the handout document to the detailed notes document so that if he makes a change to the handout it is also reflected in his notes. He has tried using only one document for everything and formatting his detailed notes as hidden text, but that doesn't always work. (For instance, a numbered list will have missing numbers in the handout if he hides some of it.) His detailed notes are interspersed among the handout text, so he can't simply have a master/subdocument.
Actually, you've thought about two good approaches, but there are others. The hidden text approach might still be possible; the only difference is in how you prepare the text in your document. For instance, instead of putting your notes in their own paragraphs (which would entail them having their own numbers in a numbered list), you could make the notes part of the previous paragraph by pressing Shift+Enter at the end of the student portion of the text. Your note then won't get its own number, and you can still hide it so you can control printing.
Another option is to forego the hidden text and put your notes into comments. Word allows you to turn off the display and printing of comments in much the same way as you do with hidden text.
Closely related to comments is to use all the markup tools enabled through Track Changes. In your document you can activate Track Changes when you are ready to put in your own notes. They then show in the document as "added" text. Word allows you to print your document with or without markup visible, so you can print it with or without the added text (your notes).
There is another advantage to the Track Changes approach, as well. If you add something in your notes that you later decide you want visible in the student handout, all you need to do is select that something and then "accept" the revision for what you selected. It then becomes part of the original document and will be printed on the handout.
While you noted that using master and subdocuments doesn't work well for your needs, there is a parallel approach that may be adaptable—use the INCLUDETEXT field instead. Your notes could be in a number of small documents (call them subdocuments, if you want), and then you place INCLUDETEXT fields in the student handout to indicate where those insertions should occur. If you want, you could even place your notes in a single document, bookmark the various chunks, and then use multiple INCLUDETEXT fields with a bookmark parameter to reference the chunks in the notes file. Within the student handout you can format the fields as hidden text and then print with or without hidden text visible to get your desired printout.
You might also look to augment Word with another program. In Word 2010 you can use OneNote to assemble your notes and link them to your student handout. This process is best described in this tutorial from Microsoft:
Finally, you can abandon Word altogether and use a different program that may be more suited to what you want to do. For instance you might use PowerPoint to actually create the handouts and notes. While we most often think of PowerPoint as a way to make overhead slides, a slide could just as easily be formatted to represent a piece of paper. Your student handout would be made in the "slides" portion of the presentation and you can then add notes to each slide, as desired. When it comes time to print you can choose to either print just the slides (for the students) or the slides and notes (for you).
WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (12433) 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 Two Versions of the Same Document.
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