Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007, 2010, and 2013. If you are using an earlier version (Word 2003 or earlier), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for earlier versions of Word, click here: Field Calculations in Locked Forms.

Field Calculations in Locked Forms

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated January 5, 2018)

Kathleen described a problem she had with Word not updating a calculated field in a locked form. For instance, if there are three fields (Field1, Field2, and Field3) that are summed together into another field (Total), then Kathleen could not get the Total field to calculate, even though she set the Calculate on Exit property of the Total field.

The reason the problem occurs is a misunderstanding of the way in which Word calculates form fields; it has nothing to do with the fact that the form is locked. (In fact, the form must be locked in order to fill in the form fields at all.) The problem arises because it is not the Total field that must have the Calculate on Exit property turned on, but the fields on which Total is dependent. In this instance all three contributory fields—Field1, Field2, and Field3—must have their Calculate on Exit property set. If they do, then the Total will update properly (and interactively) as expected.

As a side note, it does very little good to have the Calculate on Exit property set in the Total field. Why? Because when you set the field's Type property to Calculation, enter your formula in the Form Field Options dialog box, and then lock the form, the Total field cannot be selected. If it cannot be selected, you can't exit it (you can't exit what you can't enter), so the Calculate on Exit property is never triggered.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (8178) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, and 2013. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Field Calculations in Locked Forms.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He  is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...


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