As technology has progressed, more and more corporations, law firms and other businesses that deal with standardized documents have been using the search-and-replace feature or the overstrike feature in Microsoft Word to customize their documents for individual clients. These methods leave room for error and oversight in a fast-paced office environment. A prior client's name may be overlooked and appear in the next document that is prepared. This could be embarrassing for the firm or even create privacy issues. If you haven't learned to create your own auto-run templates in Microsoft Word, this article may be of great benefit. It may take time to set up the initial templates, but it may be worth your while in time savings and error prevention.

Things You Will Need

Microsoft Word

Step 1

Assuming that you are working with an existing document previously created in Word, open the document and delete the existing variable information or place holders at each location where they appear.

Step 2

Move your cursor to the area where the variable information is to be inserted. Hold down the "Ctrl" key while pressing the "F9" key. A "{ }" will appear with a flashing cursor in the center. At the point of the flashing cursor, inside the parenthesis, type the word "fillin" followed by a space. After the space, inside quotation marks, type the instructions or prompts that will appear in your auto document each time you activate the template. For instance, if the variable information that goes into this field is the first name of the party in a letter, then you may simply phrase the instruction or prompt as "Insert First Name?" As another example, assuming your second variable field is the date an event occurred, you might phrase the second variable instruction as "Insert Event Date?" These codes will display in your document as follows:
{ fillin "Insert First Name?" }
and {fillin "Insert Event Date?" }

Step 3

Save your document as a Document Template by clicking on the drop down box under "Save as type" window in Word.

Step 4

Once you have saved the document template, attach the AutoNew Macro which will cause the document to automatically prompt the typist to insert the variable information for each field as the macro runs. To do this, select the entire document using the "Ctrl A" key combination, or choosing Select All under the Edit menu. Next go to "Tools", choose "Macro", then "Record New Macro". In the "Macro name" box, type "AutoNew". In the same window, click on the drop down arrow in the field titled "store macro in" and choose the name of your document template that you just created. Next click "Okay" to close the window. The macro recording box will appear. Press the "F9" key. The pop-up window for the first variable field will appear. Click "Okay" without inserting any information into the variable field window. Repeat this action until all variable fields have displayed. Once your last pop-up window has displayed and you have chosen "okay", you may stop the recording of the Macro by clicking the stop recording button, which is the square box in the Macro recording window. Save the changes to your template at this point.

Step 5

To make sure your field codes do not appear in documents based on this template as well as in the template itself, select the entire document again and press the "Alt F9" key combination to turn off the field display. This is a toggle function, so if you need to display the field codes again to edit your template, just select the entire document and repeat this "Alt F9" key combination. This function works in both the template and any documents created based on the template. Now, save again, and your auto-run template is complete.

Step 6

In order to create a new document based on this template, simply go to the "File" menu, choose "New". A menu will appear. In that menu, you will choose "On my computer". The new window will display a list of templates, including the one you have just created. Double click on your newly-created template, and the macro will begin to run. A window will appear in the center of your screen prompting for the first variable piece of information. You will type your first response and click the "Okay" button, or alternatively, your may choose the "Ctrl Enter" key combination to move on to the next prompt. For example, in response to the "Enter First Name?" prompt, you will type the name "John". Continue responding to each prompt as it appears, entering your variable information.

Step 7

Once you have completed the document, you will print or save your newly-created document as desired. Remember that if the field codes themselves appear in your document instead of the variable information you have input, simply select the entire document and toggle using the "Alt F9" key combination.

Step 8

The above method works well in the event each variable field response is different. However, what if the same variable response is to appear in more than one location in your document? For example, what if the first name "John" will appear three times in your document? With the above method, you will have to re-type the name "John" in response to each prompt for "Insert First Name?"

Step 9

This problem may be solved by using an "ask" field as opposed to a "fillin" field. Instead of typing the word "fillin" inside the parenthesis, type the word "ask", following by a space, followed by a bookmark word of your choosing, i.e. FIRSTNAME. This bookmark word will then be followed by a space and then your instruction or prompt inside quotation marks. Next, move your cursor outside of the bracketed field area, and use the "Ctrl F9" key combination again to create another field immediately following the first. Inside this field, type your bookmark word, "FIRSTNAME". You have now created your initial ask field. This ask field will display as follows:
{ ask FIRSTNAME "Insert First Name?" } { FIRSTNAME }

Step 10

Continue creating your template using ask fields by moving to each location where "FIRSTNAME", i.e. John, is to appear. At these locations, you will again use the "Ctrl F9" key combination. Inside the prompt at this point, you will merely type the bookmark word, "FIRSTNAME". No further information is to be entered at this point, as you previously defined the prompt in your initial creation of the ask field. The bookmark word points back to that prompt. This bookmark field in these subsequent entries will appear as follows:


Step 11

You will then continue creating the template by attaching the macro as described earlier. There will be one additional step, however, in the event you are using ask fields in your document. The AutoNew Macro that will be recorded over your template will have to be revised. Otherwise, when you attempt to create your document based on this template with ask fields, you will get the error message, "ERROR! Bookmark Not Defined." where your variable information should appear. Once you have recorded and attached the Macro to your template as described earlier, you will go to Tools, choose Macro, then Macro again. In the pop-up window, make sure "AutoNew" displays as your choice and the name of your saved template is displayed in the drop down box below. Then choose Edit. Delete the line, "Selection.Fields.Update" and type in its place "ActiveDocument.Fields.Update". Then choose "File", and save your template in the edit window. After saving, choose "File" again, and then choose "Close and Return to Word". You should now be able to create a document based on this template that will insert duplicate responses into each location of the document with only one prompt appearing.

Step 12

Be aware, however, that if no response is entered to the ask prompt, the error message "ERROR! Bookmark Not Defined." will appear in the document at the location of each bookmark. In that event, you may merely select the entire document and press the "F9" key to begin the auto run process again, filling in the missing information when prompted; or you may choose to delete the error messages and insert information manually as desired. Also, when using ask fields, you may have to scroll through and "okay" prompts for which you have already entered responses. This is not very troublesome nor time consuming, but is a side effect, if you will, of using the ask fields as opposed to the fillin fields. The above instructions were based on creating templates in the 2003 Version of Microsoft Word; however, these templates have been used in later versions of Word with no apparent problems.

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