Updating Fields Automatically

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated April 1, 2023)
This tip applies to Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Word in Microsoft 365, and 2021


William needs to insert the filename in a table that is in a text box in the footer of a document (it is a client requirement to do it that way). He wants that filename to automatically update every time he saves the document, or at least when he uses "Save As" to create a new file. William has inserted a FILENAME field, but he still has to remember to open the footer and click there and press F9 to update it. He would prefer it to just do it automatically.

Historically, Word was developed with the understanding that your documents would eventually be printed. (This was before the days of doing most tasks online, electronically.) One of the artifacts related to this historical understanding is that Word doesn't update fields until you go to print. Thus, fields are not updated when you do other tasks, such as saving or using Save As.

With this understanding in mind, there are a couple of things you can do. First is to trick Word into thinking you are printing. Before doing this "tricking," however, you'll want to follow these steps:

  1. Display the Word Options dialog box. (In Word 2007 click the Office button and then click Word Options. In Word 2010 and later versions, display the File tab of the ribbon and then click Options.)
  2. At the left of the dialog box click Display. (See Figure 1.)
  3. Figure 1. The Display options of the Word Options dialog box.

  4. Make sure the Update Fields Before Printing check box is selected.
  5. Click Advanced at the left side of the dialog box.
  6. Scroll down until you see the Print section. (See Figure 2.)
  7. Figure 2. The print settings in the Word Options dialog box.

  8. Make sure the Allow Fields Containing Tracked Changes to Update Before Printing check box is selected.
  9. Click on OK to save your changes.

Now, all you need to do when you want to update the fields is to press Ctrl+P. This displays the Print dialog box (Word 2007) or the printing options (later versions of Word). Once you are to this point, the fields in the document should be updated because Word is anticipating that you are going to print. You can press Esc or click the Home tab of the ribbon to abandon printing, and you should note that all the fields in your document are updated. (Well, all the fields except the field used to create a TOC. That's a special case where you actually need to print, not just use Print Preview.)

You could also use a macro to perform these tasks. The following macro doesn't change the settings in the Word Options dialog box, but it does perform just enough of the printing sequence that it tricks Word into updating the fields.

Sub UpdateAllFields()
    With ActiveDocument
    End With
End Sub

There is another macro approach you can take, if desired. This approach bypasses any trickery and, instead, steps through each of the "stories" in a document and updates any fields found in those stories. (A "story" is best viewed as a layer in your document. The main document is one story, headers and footers another, graphics another, and so on.) There are actually two macros used in this approach; you would run the UpdateAllFields macro in order to start the updating process.

Sub UpdateAllFields()
    Dim objStory As Range
    Dim objTOC As TableOfContents
    Dim objTOA As TableOfAuthorities
    Dim objTOF As TableOfFigures
    Dim objIndex As Index

    Application.ScreenUpdating = False
    Application.DisplayAlerts = wdAlertsNone

    For Each objStory In ActiveDocument.StoryRanges
        UpdateFieldsInStory objStory

        While Not (objStory.NextStoryRange Is Nothing)
            Set objStory = objStory.NextStoryRange
            UpdateFieldsInStory objStory
    For Each objTOC In ActiveDocument.TablesOfContents

    For Each objTOA In ActiveDocument.TablesOfAuthorities

    For Each objTOF In ActiveDocument.TablesOfFigures

    For Each objIndex In ActiveDocument.Indexes

    Application.DisplayAlerts = wdAlertsAll
    Application.ScreenUpdating = True
End Sub
Private Sub UpdateFieldsInStory(iobjStory As Range)
    Dim objShape As Shape

    With iobjStory

        Select Case .StoryType
            Case wdMainTextStory, wdPrimaryHeaderStory, _
              wdPrimaryFooterStory, wdEvenPagesHeaderStory, _
              wdEvenPagesFooterStory, wdFirstPageHeaderStory, _

                For Each objShape In .ShapeRange
                    With objShape.TextFrame
                        If .HasText Then .TextRange.Fields.Update
                    End With
        End Select
    End With
End Sub

If you want to find out more information about updating fields using macros, you may want to visit this page at Greg Maxey's site; pay particular attention to the section entitled "Updating Fields":


As you can tell, it is not necessarily easy to update all fields in a document. It would seem that Microsoft could easily add such a capability, but even with many years under the bridge, Word still lacks such a capability.


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 (13475) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Word in Microsoft 365, and 2021.

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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What is 2 + 5?

2023-04-07 00:15:14


For a while, doing just Print Preview did not result in updating all fields, at least in my version of Word (365 Family). I am happy to see that this functionality is now back, but if it doesn't work for you, make sure to install any updates available for your version of Word.

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