Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Word in Microsoft 365, and 2021. 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 in Footer Won't Update.

Field in Footer Won't Update

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated November 4, 2023)
This tip applies to Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Word in Microsoft 365, and 2021


Christina has a version number that is on the title page of her document, and she updates it manually. She uses a field in the footer of the document to reference this version number. When she updates the version number on the title page, it doesn't update on the footer, even if she presses Ctrl+A and then presses F9. Christina wonders why the field isn't updating.

The reason that this doesn't work is because Word utilizes the concept of "layers" or "stories" in putting a document together. Your main document text is on one layer and other elements are on different layers, such as the graphics layer or the header/footer layer. When you are in the main document and you press Ctrl+A, you are selecting all the text in the main document layer, and the subsequent action (pressing F9) affects only what you've selected. If you want to affect the fields in the header or footer, you need to place the insertion point within the header or footer and then use Ctrl+A.

There are easier ways, however. One easy way is to use a macro to update all fields, regardless of where they are located. How you do this has been covered in other issues of WordTips, but here is a rather simple macro that will do the updating:

Sub UpdateAllFields1()
    Dim doc As Document
    Dim sRange As Range
    Dim sField As Field

    Set doc = ActiveDocument
    For Each sRange In doc.StoryRanges
        For Each sField In sRange.Fields
            sField.Update
        Next sField
    Next sRange
End Sub

The macro steps through all of the defined story ranges (layers) in the document and then steps through each field in each of those ranges. The result is that all the fields end up getting updated.

Another simple, effective way to do it is shown here:

Sub UpdateAllFields2()
    ActiveDocument.PrintPreview
    ActiveDocument.ClosePrintPreview
End Sub

Note that this macro only displays Print Preview for the current document and then closes Print Preview. This results in the fields in the document being updated—regardless of location—because most versions of Word automatically update fields whenever you print or use Print Preview.

Another approach is to change how you are using your fields. If the field is not updating, then you are probably using a REF field in the footer to reference the bookmarked version number on the title page. Instead, delete the bookmark and apply a unique style to the version number. (The style should be used only for the version number.) You can then use a STYLEREF field in the footer, and your version number is duplicated there. The benefit of this approach is that STYLEREF fields are, for some strange reason, updated dynamically whenever the source information (your version number) changes.

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 (12247) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Word in Microsoft 365, and 2021. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Field in Footer Won't Update.

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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