Master Document in Word – Part 1

 Oct 25, 2016

The Master Document in Microsoft Word is a tool that gets highly overlooked but can provide a great level of efficiency when working on company files.

If you have chapters to work on and a team involved in the writing you can potentially have teams working on each chapter of a file simultaneously in the Master Document. This isn’t to suggest that a Master Document is a folder containing files, it is more a document providing hyperlinks to a collection of subdocuments as known in Word. So by clicking on the links it simply opens the original documents for further editing and, as you save the subdocument files stored in the Master Document, you will see the updates. In today’s blog we will unravel the use of a Master Document which can be used across your company documentations (particularly large documents).

One of the reasonsas to why this tool is highly overlooked in Word is because it is relatively hidden. Those who are familiar with working with Styles or a Style guide may have come across this tool found in the Outline view. Styles is an important part of a Master Document. Whether you insert a collection of documents already created into a Master Document or you create one from the beginning, it is important that the use of Heading Styles can be found in the original documents of a collection or can be applied over the headings of a new Master Document. So just before we create a Master Document let’s firstly enable the Style Area panel by selecting the File tab and below the left hand column select Options. In the Options window select the Advanced Settings and by scrolling down the settings and in the Display group, provide a 2 cm width for the Style Area panel in the Draft or Outline view. This will allow us to more instantly apply and edit styles across a new Master Document.

As mentioned that there are two methods to create a Master Document. The first method is to create a Master Document from the beginning while the second is to insert existing subdocuments into the Master Document file. Let’s explore the first method. By selecting the View tab in Word 2013/ 16 you can locate the Outline view on the left of the View ribbon whilst in the 2010 version Outline view can also be found in the bottom right hand corner of views. Across a blank new document we are about to create an outline of headings that will form the subdocuments of this new Master Document file.

Let’s type the headings that will include Table of Contents, Chapters and Topics.

Notice the enabled 2cm Styles Panel on the left of the Outline view. While we may have entered the text or headings in this new document but within the Outline view, by closing the view as you select the close button on the right of the Outline ribbon, that will return you to the Print Layout view or the edit view of the file. As such whilst we can insert text in the Outline view we can also format text with the Heading Styles. You can see that currently all the headings in the Outline view are Heading 1 Styles however, by placing an insertion point before such subheadings as Topic A and by referring to the Outline Tools group on the left of the ribbon, change the subheading from the Level 1 to Level 2. Another way to change the selections to levels of Heading Styles is by selecting either the back or forward arrows to indent subheadings to the appropriate Heading Style. You can verify the applied styles from the Style panel or column on the left.

Now it’s time to create a Master Document over the outlined headings. In the Outline ribbon select the Show Document button. Select the outline of headings and in the expanded Master Document group, select Create.

We have now created a new Master Document of links to the subdocument files.

You will find a page button on the top right corner of each sectioned subdocument and by double clicking that button that will open the subdocument for further editing. It is important that in this new Master Document that each of these subdocument files are opened and saved as separate documents and of course as you continually edit these subdocuments and save you will certainly see the update made in your Master Document file. Our next blog of this series will take us to inserting existing subdocuments to a Master Document.

For more information, take a look at New Horizons' Microsoft Word Training courses.

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About the Author:

Keith Ching  

At New Horizons Keith delivers Microsoft Office, Sharepoint and Adobe/ Graphic Design training to corporate Australians. Because of his proven ability to build rapport with Clients, Keith has been engaged on training projects that have required expertise outside of the traditional instructing role.Keith also enjoys sharing his knowledge with others, in particular in educating students who contribute to our local ICT industry and economy. In doing so Keith has delivered high quality training to over 4000 students at an average of 92%.In a competitive industry which constantly changes, Keith has a unique skill set which is up-to-date with the latest technology combined with being able to communicate this technical knowledge in a way that students relate to in an engaging, clear and concise manner.His passion in IT and Art and Design has resulted in several recognised qualifications which are a reflection of his creditability by peers and industry.

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