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Microsoft: Office FAQ

Tips and Tricks

Rules for Master/SubDocuments by Dreamboat
Posted: 20 Mar 01

~~DREAMBOAT'S RULES FOR MASTER/SUBDOCUMENTS (To be used before you start):

1. Create a template that contains all of the styles that will be used throughout all of the masters and subs. You CANNOT have one "normal" style in your master and another "normal" style in your subs. Do not forget that if you expect others to be able to view the document in the same manner as you do, they must have access to the template. Tools-Options-File locations-Workgroup templates is the location where you will want to store them. If you don't have one, ask your network guys to give you a shared location for this purpose, enter that location in the Workgroup templates box (on everybody's PC) and then store the templates there. They'll show up when you hit File-New.

2. Create all of your subdocuments. Do not even think of inserting them into a master until you're all done. You must make these files by using the template. Do not treat your subdocuments as though they belong together. If you start telling Chapter 3 to start numbering at 3, or tell the page numbers to start at 38, you'll get all messed up. Don't do it. I strongly suggest that you name your subdocuments in the manner of 01-MyFirstChapter, 02-SecondPart, just as long as you use the 01, 02, 03... You'll be so glad later, and I won't have to explain, you'll go, "Ohhhh, I get it!"

3. Create the master. The master, ideally, contains only a cover page and Table of contents (TOC), perhaps "information on how to use this manual" and other stuff like that. The master must be using the same template. Of course, the master can be created first if you like, but the following part should be done absolutely last: Now, insert a section break. You'd need one anyway. Go to View-Master (97) or View-Outline view (2K). Hit the insert subdoc button and insert your file number 01-MyFirstChapter. Insert each subdocument after that. Save it.

4. NEVER, EVER, NEVER edit subdocuments through the master. You MUST edit them by themselves. The only time you should open the master is to edit something IN the master or to update the TOC or to print the file. NEVER USE THE MASTER TO EDIT THE SUBDOCUMENTS.

5. The file structures must be maintained. So, let's say you've got embedded graphics in subdocuments that are in a master and you want to ship the whole kit and kaboodle to Denver. Do the work upfront. Create a folder on your C: called MyProject or whatever. Under that, structure it right. Something like:


Now, if you don't have graphics to worry about, then don't make an individual folder for each sub, just have the docs under the SUBS folder. The bigger the project/documents are, the more important and helpful the folders can be. If you have anything to say about it, it sure is nice to have your graphics named 01Graphicname, 02Graphicname, and so on.

Now you're ready to stay out of trouble.


So, you already did it. Well, undo it.

1. Open the master or subdocument that is using most of the styles that you want to use throughout the whole project. Save that file as a template called MyProjectTemplate or whatever--check that your template location is where everyone who needs to can get to it! Delete everything out of it (ctrl-a and hit delete key). Save it, close it.

2. Open your master again. Hit Tools-Templates and add-ins and attach the template to your master. Check the box that says automatically update styles. Save it close it.

3. Open each subdocument by itself and do the same. You'll hate me when some of your styles/formatting change but this will be your own fault 'cause you didn't listen (seriously, this won't happen to you anymore and you can be glad of that!). You may need to clean some stuff up. Sorry.

4. If everything is still okay and your document hasn't locked up on you yet, you're way ahead of the game.


If you're in big trouble and your master document is locked and you can't do much of anything, this isn't because the file is corrupt, it's because you didn't follow the rules (which I've never seen anywhere in their entirety except what I happen to be writing at the moment).

Or maybe you just really want to start over because you're picky like I am...
(read the information above so you understand the following steps completely)

1. Open master. Hit File-Save as and give it a new name. Now it's not a master anymore (not tested in Office 2000 yet! If anyone tests this, please let us know so I can change the FAQ.) Put this file into its own folder and make your folder structure as I've described above. Now, open the master and save it as a template, delete everything out of it as described above, save it, close it.

2. Open the master and connect it to the template as described above.

3. Select the first chapter, hit Cut. Hit file-new and pick the template. In the new doc, hit paste. Save it to 01-MyFirst... Continue doing this until you've got all of the chapters cut and pasted into their own documents with the new naming structure and the new folder structure.

4. At this point, the master should contain only the cover and TOC and other stuff. Save it. Insert the first section break, and then insert your subdocuments. Update the TOC. Save. Close. All done.


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