Join Maria Langer for an in-depth discussion in this video Using master documents, part of Word 2013: Creating Long Documents.
- The employee manual we'll be working with throughout most of this course is long, but not very long. It's less than 7,000 words. If you're working with a very long document, a book or some other lengthy manuscript, you might want to use Word's Master Document Feature. It offers additional tools that make it easier to work with individual parts of a very long document. There are two ways to create a master document. One way is to create a document with the Outline Feature and then create subdocuments based on document headings.
So, for example, we could divide our Employee Manual into subdocuments based on the Level 1 headings. The other way is to create a main document and then import other documents into it as subdocuments. In this video, we'll take a look at both of these techniques and see how to work with a master document once it's been created. Let's switch to 'Outline View', and then to make things a little easier to see, let's just show Levels 1 and 2. If the body text is showing, you could turn on the 'Show First Line Only' checkbox.
We're going to turn this document into a master document with a separate subdocument for each Level 1 heading. Start by clicking 'Show Document' in the master document group to display additional options. We want to create a subdocument for each Level 1 heading. To do that, we'll start by clicking the circle icon in front of the first Level 1 heading. Next, we'll click the 'Create Subdocument' button in the master document group of the outlining ribbon. This does a few things. First, it takes the selected text and it turns it into a subdocument.
You can see a subdocument icon in the upper left corner of the gray box around the subdocument. Next, Word inserts two section breaks. One before the master document and one at the end of it. The section breaks are formatted to be continuous, meaning that there will be no page or column breaks associated with them. We can do the same thing for the other Level 1 headings in this document, just click the circle icon, and then click the 'Create Subdocument' button.
Word makes it easy to do multiple Level 1 headings at once. Just click to select the headings that you want to turn into subdocuments, and then click the 'Create Subdocument' button. When I click the 'Create Subdocument' button, Word is smart enough to realize that you want your subdocuments based on your Level 1 headings. It creates the remaining subdocuments based on that heading. Now, let's see what this looks like in other Word views. I'll click 'View', and then I'll click 'Draft'.
The document looks exactly the same as before the subdocuments were created. That's because right now, we're looking at the main document with all of its subdocuments. The only thing different is that you can see the section breaks, and you can only see those if you're showing nonprinting characters. If you're following along and you don't see the section breaks on your screen, click 'Home' and then click this button here 'Show/Hide Nonprinting Characters'. Let's see what it looks like in 'Print Layout View'. Click 'View', and then click 'Print Layout'.
Again, the document should look the same as it did before you created the subdocuments. Let's go back to 'Outline View'. The Master Document Feature has basically removed content from the original document and pasted it into new documents. It then creates links in the main document to the new documents. You can see how this works by collapsing the subdocuments. Click the 'Collapse Subdocuments' button. The first time you do this, Word asks if you want to save changes to the master document. Click 'OK'.
The document is still open, but the content is hidden. Instead, it appears as a list of links to other documents. These other documents have been created in the same folder the original document we saw is. Let's take a look. I'll minimize Microsoft Word, and if you look here inside the 'Chapter 2' folder, you'll see that all the new files are here, all with today's creation date. You could see 'Benefits and Services'. You could see 'Definition of Employee Status'. 'Employee Communications'. All of these are Level 1 headings from our original document.
Word used those headings to name the new documents. I can open one of the documents to work with it. Let's try this one here, 'Introduction'. That document opens in its own window. Now remember, we're only looking at one part of the original main document. Any changes we make to this document will be saved with this document. For example, I'll make a simple formatting change. I'll select this occurrence of 'Two Trees Olive Oil' and I'll make it bold. Now, let's close the document.
Word asks if you want to save your changes to 'Introduction'. Click 'Save'. Now, back in the master document, I can see if the change shows up. I'll click the 'Expand Subdocument' button, and you can see right here that the first occurrence of 'Two Trees Olive Oil' is now bold. As you might imagine, it's bold in Word's other views, too. Before I move on to the next topic, I do want to mention that one other way to create a master document. That's by opening or creating a new Word document and inserting other documents as subdocuments into it.
Let's give that a quick try with some sample documents in the 'Chapter 2' folder of the 'Exercise File' folder. I'll start by creating a brand new Word document. The fastest way to do that is to press 'ctrl+n'. Next, I want to go to 'Outline View'. In the master document group of the outlining ribbon, I'm going to click 'Show Document'. That gives us those additional options. Then, I'll click the 'Insert Subdocument' button. The 'Insert Subdocument' dialogue box opens.
You can use it to navigate to and select the document that you want to insert as a subdocument. For our example, I'm going to use the 'Chapter 1' file inside this folder. Word may display a dialogue box like this that tells you that styles exist in both the subdocument and the master document. The option you select here depends on how you want styles to be used in your document. If you want all the styles to be exactly as they are in the master document, click 'No to All'. That's what I'll do.
The document is added to our master document as a subdocument. As you can see here, it's a lot of gibberish text that I'm just using as an example file. You might see the spelling errors and grammar errors selected in your document. We could repeat that process for the other subdocuments that we want to add. I'll do that one more time. The insertion point is already at the end of the document. You could see it down here, so I'm all good to go. I'll click 'Insert Subdocument', and this time I'll pick 'Chapter 2' and 'Open'.
Again, I'll click 'No to All'. That document is inserted as another subdocument. I'll let you do the 'Chapter 3' document on your own if you like. Once, you've created a master document by inserting subdocuments, you'll need to save the master document. I'll just choose 'File', and then 'Save'. Then, I need to choose a location. I'll pick the 'Chapter 2' folder. I'll give it a name. I'll call it 'Book', and click 'Save'.
This document now works just like the other master document that we created earlier. There are two main benefits to splitting up a main document into subdocuments using the Master Document Feature. One is that it enables you to work with your document in sections. This can be beneficial if the document is very long and includes a lot of media that might slow down the loading, scrolling, or editing of the document. Another benefit is the ability to take a single document and split it into multiple smaller documents for collaboration purposes.
If this document was stored on a shared drive, for example, others with access to the drive could open subdocuments for editing and save them to change the master document. This would not be possible if all the text was in one document and that one document was being edited by someone else. In general, the Master Document Feature gives you all the benefits of working with a very long document in its component pieces without having to worry about the formatting styles and organization of multiple individual files. Is this the kind of feature that you'll use as you work with Microsoft Word? Give it a try the next time you need to create a long document and decide for yourself.
- Understanding challenges with long documents
- Exploring the process for building a long document
- Structuring a document with outlines and master pages
- Adding captions
- Working with footnotes and endnotes
- Inserting citations and managing sources
- Creating an index with a concordance file
- Numbering chapters and pages
- Formatting page breaks
- Including headers and footers
- Adding a cover page
- Setting the document theme
- Updating automatically generated content
- Formatting long-document components
- Printing a long document