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The Properties Dialog Box

Some of the field information in the Properties dialog box is provided by the system, but a significant quantity has to be provided by the user. As you can infer from the tabs displayed in Figure 2, unless you type information into some of those empty boxes, certain fields will have no content.

Figure 2Figure 2

Information in the Summary tab is in your control, and it's your responsibility to keep it up to date. You can type data into the boxes of the Summary tab by launching the Properties box in either your document or your template. If you type information into the template Properties dialog box, however, it becomes the default information for every document using that template. For this reason, there are certain bits of document information that you don't want to put in the Summary tab of your template Properties dialog box. For example, if you open the Properties dialog box in the template and fill in the Title box with "Marmot Choirs on Parade," every document you build with that template will use that title—even if you open the document's Properties dialog box and try to change the title. Your only remedy will be to delete your title fields and type your titles into your documents manually (or go back and revise your template's properties).

On the other hand, opening the Properties dialog box in your document allows you to place the contents of the Title field on your title page, in all right and left headers, and in the header on the first page. Then, if you change the title in the Properties box, Word will proliferate the change throughout all the Title fields.


Mind you, unless you update the fields in your document after you change your title, you won't be able to see this handy change. One good habit to get into when you work with fields is to periodically press Ctrl+A to highlight all text in the document and press F9 to update all fields.

Keep in mind that this trick won't update the fields in your headers and footers, because they're stored on a separate "virtual page layer" that just "shows through" for convenience in your Word document. To update fields in headers and footers, choose View, Header and Footer. Then press Ctrl+A and then F9.

The data in the Properties box Custom tab is also user-provided. You type this information into fields on the Custom tab. To use it in your documents, you insert a DocProperty field code. But you'll also need to specify which property you want. Word 2003 lets you select the property from a list, creating a field code that looks the same and produces the same result.

  1. Choose Insert, Field and click DocProperty in the Field Names list. The Properties dialog box changes to show the Property list (see Figure 3).

  2. Select the Property that you want to appear in your field.

Figure 3Figure 3

Some data in the Properties dialog box, like that on the General tab and some on Statistics, is provided by the system. While the Properties dialog box obligingly shows you what this information is, you cannot change it there no matter how loudly you sing.

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