Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Microsoft 365. 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: Adding Automatic Time Stamps.

Adding Automatic Time Stamps

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated April 13, 2022)
This tip applies to Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Microsoft 365


Kim wants to use bulleted lists to record notes during a classroom observation. Each note (each bulleted item in a list) needs to have a time stamp to indicate when it was observed and created. She wonders about the best way to automatically add the time stamp to each bulleted list item as it is created.

There are a couple ways you can approach a solution to this need, and each approach requires the use of a macro. The reason is because Word doesn't include any shortcuts or tools that automatically add a time stamp to your document. You could, of course, just use the traditional tools to insert a date and time (such as pressing Alt+Shift+T), but you'll find that unsatisfactory—the tools insert a field that is updated to the current date and time whenever fields are updated.

A simple solution is to create a macro that inserts the date and time:

Public Sub TimeStamp
    Selection.InsertDateTime _
      DateTimeFormat:="MM/dd/yyyy hh:mm:ss" & _
      " - ", InsertAsField:=False
End Sub

You could assign the macro to a keyboard shortcut. That way, as you are typing you could press the shortcut and thereby insert a static date and time at any point in your document.

A more complete solution might be to create a macro that not only inserts the date and time, but also inserts a paragraph and formats it using your desired bullet style. Start by creating a paragraph style (I'll call it "MyBullet") that reflects all the formatting you want in the paragraph—font, size, indent, bullet format, spacing, etc. Then, create a macro similar to the following:

Sub Observe()
    Selection.TypeParagraph
    Selection.Style = ActiveDocument.Styles("MyBullet")
    Selection.Font.ColorIndex = wdRed
    Selection.InsertDateTime _
      DateTimeFormat:="MM/dd/yyyy hh:mm:ss" & _
      " - ", InsertAsField:=False
    Selection.Font.ColorIndex = wdAuto
End Sub

When you run the macro, it inserts a new paragraph at the insertion point, formats that paragraph using the MyBullet style, inserts the date and time in red, and then remains ready for you to type your observation.

Now, all this being said, you should understand that Word may not be the best application for the purpose described by Kim. A better approach might be to use OneNote, which allows the easy creation of notes (observations) and time stamping those notes. Information in OneNote could then, after your observation sessions, be copied to a Word document for creating your final report.

Note:

If you would like to know how to use the macros described on this page (or on any other page on the WordTips sites), I've prepared a special page that includes helpful information. Click here to open that special page in a new browser tab.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (11460) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Microsoft 365. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Adding Automatic Time Stamps.

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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