Link to another file in your Word document

If you insert text from a another file into one of your Microsoft Word documents, there may be cases when you want to be able to update the text when changes are made to the source file. This tip explains how you can use field codes to keep inserted text up-to-date.

When you go to Insert | File, Microsoft Word lets you navigate to a folder, select a file, and insert it into the current document. The result is a static copy—the inserted text won't change unless you edit it. In most situations, this is probably the result you want. But in other cases, you may want to insert a dynamic copy of the file instead—one that stays linked to the external file and displays the most current version of the text.

An inserted link is a Word field, which means that when you select it and press [F9], the link displays the most current version of the external file. For instance, suppose your company prints a standard disclaimer at the end of all business correspondence. If the text of that disclaimer is subject to frequent revisions, you might want to link to the disclaimer's source file.

Go to Insert | File, and navigate to the file you want to link to. Select the file, click the drop-down arrow on the Insert File dialog box's Insert button, and choose Insert As Link. When you do, Word inserts a field in the following form:

{INCLUDETEXT "<drive>:\\<path>\\disclaimer.doc"}

This field inserts the most current text from the file. (If you see this Word field instead of the text, press [Alt][F9] to toggle field codes.)

Next, open the external file (in our example, disclaimer.doc), make a change to the text, and save and close that document window. Return to the document where you inserted the link, select the linked text, and press [F9] to update. When you do, changes made to the external file will show up in the linked text.

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