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By Susan Sales
Harkins and Bryan Carbonnelle

Word offers a number of useful features for managing large
documents. For instance, you can mark specific words and phrases, which Word
then uses to generate a table of contents, a table of authorities, a table of
figures, and even an index. This can save you a lot of time. Instead of
creating these pieces manually, you mark the text you want included in the
table of contents, index, and so on, and Word inserts a field code. Once you’ve
completed the document, Word generates your table of contents, index, and so
on, according to those fields.

But a problem arises when you want to delete field codes. Word’s
Replace feature will delete them, but the process is a bit awkward. Alternatively,
you can delete them manually. In a large manuscript with lots of fields, that
could take hours. The good news is that you can use a macro to strip all those
field codes in just a few seconds.

Who deletes field codes?

You might be wondering why you’d ever want to delete field
codes. The truth is, most of the time, you won’t. However, some processes
require a clean copy of the content. By clean,
we mean that a document contains no hidden formatting or codes. For instance,
you might submit Word documents to a production system for publication in a
magazine or journal. Or you might submit HTML documents for publication on a Web

To see how time-consuming it can be to strip a document of
field codes, take a minute to insert a few fields into a document. Simply select a word and press [Alt][Shift]X. In the resulting Mark Index Entry
dialog box, shown in Figure A, click
the Mark button. Doing so inserts an index entry field code, as shown in Figure B. (Click Show/Hide on the
Standard menu to toggle the code display.)

Figure A

We’ll create some index entries using this dialog box to add fields to a



Figure B

When you click Mark, Word inserts an index entry code.

Now, imagine a 100-page document full of codes. You might
approach the problem using the Replace command, but it’s a little tricky and
requires know-how that casual users might not have. First, you must display the
codes. The problem is,
will users remember to do that? If they don’t, they might not even realize that
Replace did not delete the codes.

After displaying the codes, you need to choose Replace from
the Edit menu. Then, in the Find And Replace dialog, click More and then
Special. Choose Field from the resulting list of special characters to enter ^d
in the Find What text box. (The ^d component represents all field codes.) Leave
the Replace With field empty, click Replace All, and Word deletes all of the field
codes in the document.

A second problem with this route is that it deletes all of
the field codes: index, table of contents, figures, and table of authorities—not
to mention things like field-generated page numbers and dates. If you need to retain some of those fields, you’ll have to jump through another hoop, combining the specific code for the field you want to eliminate with the ? wildcard.
For instance, if you wanted to delete only the index fields, you’d enter ^d xe ^?. It’s a lot of work even
if you know what you’re doing. An inexperienced user might have trouble.

The field-deleting macro

Fortunately, you can bypass the Replace technique and automate
the field-stripping process with a simple macro. It does all the work. All you
have to do is remember to run it. To add the macro to a document, do the

  1. With
    the Word document open, press [Alt][F11] to launch the Visual Basic Editor (VBE).
  2. In
    the VBE, choose Module from the Insert menu.
  3. Enter
    the following macro:
Sub DeleteIndexEntries()
 Dim doc As Document
 Dim fld As Field
 Set doc = ActiveDocument
 For Each fld In doc.Fields
 If fld.Type = wdFieldIndexEntry Then
 End If
 Set fld = Nothing
 Set doc = Nothing
End Sub

Run the macro by pressing [F5] or by choosing Run
Sub/UserForm from the Run menu. Or if you prefer, return to the document and
choose Macro from the Tools menu. In the resulting Macros window, select DeleteIndexEntries and click Run.

The For…Each statement loops through the Fields collection
and deletes each field type, as determined by the intrinsic constant. The example macro will delete all index field
codes (wdFieldIndexEntry). To delete other field codes, simply substitute the
intrinsic constant, accordingly. For instance, use wdFieldTOCEntry to delete
table of contents entries or wdFieldTOAEntry to delete table of authority


There are a number of field code types. To get a full list
of constants for the wdFieldType class, use the Object Brower. In the VBE,
press [F2] or choose Object Browser from the View menu. In the Classes list,
find wdFieldType to update the Members list. Or simply highlight wdFieldIndexEntry in the subprocedure and press [Shift][F2]
to display the constants in the Object Browser.

Worth noting

You can modify this macro to delete more than one field code
type. If you require more flexibility, create a user form to pass the
appropriate constant to the macro. That way, you can use the same macro to delete
different field codes, as needed. Keep in mind that you must pass the
constant’s numeric value and not its name. For instance, the integer value for
wdFieldIndexEntry is 4, so you would pass that value to the procedure.

You can store the macro with your manuscript document. If
you do, be careful not to overwrite the original document containing the field
codes. If you accidentally write over the original copy, you will lose all of
the field codes. Later, when you update the original, you’ll have to re-enter
all those field codes if you need to regenerate the table of contents, index, and
so on. Most likely, you want to save two files: The original with all the field
codes and a clean copy with no field codes. We suggest that you store the macro
in a code library and run it only against a second copy of your document.


Susan Sales Harkins is an independent consultant and the
author of several articles and books on database technologies. Her most recent
book is Mastering Microsoft SQL Server
2005 Express
, with Mike Gunderloy,
published by Sybex. Other collaborations with Gunderloy are Automating Microsoft Access 2003 with VBA,
Upgrader’s Guide to Microsoft Office System 2003, ICDL Exam Cram 2, and Absolute Beginner’s Guide to Microsoft
Access 2003
, all published by Que. Currently, Susan volunteers as the
Publications Director for Database Advisors. You can reach her at

Bryan Carbonnell
works for a public broadcaster in Canada. He has written several articles
on automating Word for Access, which are available at Database Advisors. Bryan also volunteers as
the site’s listmaster. You can reach him at

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