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: Special Characters in Fields.

Special Characters in Fields

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated September 22, 2018)
This tip applies to Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Microsoft 365


When you are using fields in your documents, you may have a need to include the quote mark and the backslash in the field definition. Unfortunately, these characters have special meaning, and may not be interpreted the way you intend. Consider, for example, the following field:

{ QUOTE "You should use "Y" or "N" in your response" }

When you use this, you get exactly what you expect: a full phrase (including quote marks) in the field result. Consider the following example, however:

{ FILLIN "You should use "Y" or "N" in your response" }

When this field result is displayed, you see an input box. However, the entire prompt does not appear. You only see the text "You should use " in the input box. Similar problems are manifested when you try to use backslashes with some fields.

To get around the problem, you need to get in the habit of using a backslash before any quote or backslash you want included in the field, as in the following:

{ FILLIN "You should use \"Y\" or \"N\" in your response" }

This approach informs Word that you want the quote marks (or backslashes, if you use \\) displayed as literal characters.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (12421) 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: Special Characters in Fields.

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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