How to use linked text to update multiple word documents

Update text across multiple docs

How to use linked text to update multiple word documents

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What To Know

  • Create a document with the text to link to, and save it. Copy the text you want to link to.
  • Place the cursor in the new document. Go to Home >Paste Special >Paste Link >Formatted Text (RTF). Press Ok.

This article explains how to link text from one Microsoft Word document to another. Instructions in this article apply to Word for Microsoft 365, Word 2019, Word 2016, Word 2013, and Word 2010.

How to Insert a Text Link in Word

Use text links to replace text across multiple Word documents at once. Text links are helpful when you insert the same block of text in several documents and this text will need to be updated at some point.

In a new Microsoft Word document, enter the text you’re going to link to from the other documents. Format it the way you want it to appear in the documents. For example, this document could contain the 20 addresses or the contact information for a new hire employee.

Save the file to generate the link. Save the file to any location and make a note of this location.

If you move the file containing the text, insert an updated link to the text in all the linked documents.

Highlight the text you want to be linked.

Right-click or tap-and-hold the selected text, then choose Copy.

To use the keyboard, press Ctrl+C on a PC or Command+C on a Mac.

How to use linked text to update multiple word documents

In the document that will contain the linked text, place the cursor where you want the linked text to go.

The location of the linked text can be changed later, just like when moving any text.

Go to the Home tab, select the Paste drop-down arrow and choose Paste Special.

How to use linked text to update multiple word documents

In the Paste Special dialog box, select Paste link.

To paste the linked text exactly as it appears in the original document, select Formatted Text (RTF).

How to use linked text to update multiple word documents

Select OK.

Repeat this process as many times as you need for each document you want to link to the original text.

Understanding Linking

Linking is helpful if the text is the same in all the documents, and when the text needs to be updated. This is a very specific scenario, but one that can save a lot of time.

For example, 20 Microsoft Word documents that are set up to print 20 sheets of address labels, and each page has dozens of labels. If the addresses in those 20 Word documents need to be updated in the future, don’t update each document manually. Instead, make a separate document that lists the addresses. Then, link the 20 documents to the one page of addresses so that when you update an address, any document that links to it will update, too.

This type of text linking is not the same as hyperlinks that open web pages or other files when clicked.

Another example is when several Word documents include the name and contact information for a newly hired employee and these documents are given to each new employee. Instead of typing this information in each document, insert a link to a document that contains the employee’s information. This way, their contact information is always correct and formatted the same way in each document.

Bryan has worked in journalism and publishing for more than 15 years. For the last 10 years, he’s covered the technology beat, including gadgets, social media, security, and web culture. Before working as a freelancer, Bryan was the Managing Editor for The Next Web. These days he spends his time at a number of publications, both online and off, including The New York Times, Popular Science, and The Next Web, among others. Read more.

How to use linked text to update multiple word documents

Microsoft Word makes it easy to add the same text to multiple documents. This is especially handy for text with special formatting, the kind of text that often breaks when pasting it into a new document. The time you find yourself changing the same details in a dozen documents, try this instead.

Open a new Microsoft Word document and enter the text you’re going to paste across multiple other documents. In this case, we’re going to use an address and paste it at the bottom of a new document, keeping the formatting intact.

How to use linked text to update multiple word documents

Save the file to generate a link. You can save it to any location, but note that if you move the file containing the text, you’ll need to update the link. To do so, right-click in the body of the Word document and click “Update Link.”

How to use linked text to update multiple word documents

Highlight the text you want to link in a new document and copy it. You can right-click and select “Copy” or just use CTRL + C on your keyboard. On a Mac, press Command + C instead.

How to use linked text to update multiple word documents

Place your cursor in the new document where you’d like the linked text to go.

How to use linked text to update multiple word documents

From the Home tab, click the “Paste” drop-down arrow and then “Paste Special.”

How to use linked text to update multiple word documents

In the pop-up menu, click “Paste Link” and then select “Formatted Text (RTF)” from the options. Click “OK” to paste the linked text.

How to use linked text to update multiple word documents

Now, if you need to update an address or add a new phone number, for example, you can change just the linked text in the original document. Once done, it will update all of the other files automatically.

One of the best aspects of Microsoft Word is the ability for users to add the same text to multiple documents. The basic way of doing this is to simply copy and paste, but what if you have several documents with the same address? The easiest way to change the address details is not to copy and paste. The plan here is to use a trick known as Linked Text, and from what we can tell, it works quite fine. At least, much better than we originally expected, and that is wonderful.

What is Linked Text in Word

OK, so that is quite simple to answer. You see, the idea is to change a particular line or paragraph of text in one document and watch as the same text in other documents just automatically change themselves. It may sound like a magic trick but trust us when we say this is the real deal.

To create and add a Linked Text:

  1. Copy text from the original document
  2. Open the other document(s) and use Paste Special
  3. Paste the Linked Text

1] Copy text from the original document

OK, so the first thing you will want to do, is to create a document with the piece of important text. Save that document before moving forward because doing so is very important. From there, copy the text to the clipboard.

2] Open the other document(s) and use Paste Special

The next step is to open the receiving documents, click the mouse cursor into the space where you want to paste the recently copied text. From there click on the Paste icon located at the top-left corner of the Ribbon. After doing that, select Paste Special. A small window should now appear with several options to take advantage of.

3] Paste the Linked Text

When it comes down to pasting the text, you will want to choose to Paste Link > Formatted Text (RTF). Finally, hit the OK button and your text should appear.

Now, should you ever edit the text from the original document, then automatically the same words will be changed in the others.

You can create a link while working in Word or while working in another application. You have already seen several ways to embed objects:

    On the Insert tab, in the Text group, choose the Object:

In the list choose the Object to open the Object dialog box.

  • Choose the Create New tab:

How to use linked text to update multiple word documents

  • Or choose the Create From File tab:

How to use linked text to update multiple word documents

How to use linked text to update multiple word documents

The difference is that you must click the Link to File check box or the Paste Link option button, or you select Link Here from the drag-and-drop pop-up menu.

Word can update links in two ways, automatically and manually:

    With automatic links, Word updates the links whenever you open the destination file and whenever the source information changes while the Word document is open.

To specify how links are updated, follow these steps:

1. Choose Linked Worksheet Object -> Links. in the popup menu to display the Links dialog box:

How to use linked text to update multiple word documents

How to use linked text to update multiple word documents

3. Choose Automatic for automatic links, or choose Manual for manual links. You can specify different options for different links.

  • With manual links, Word updates the links only when you decide to update them.
    There are two methods to update links manually. The simplest is to position the cursor somewhere in the linked object and then press F9. The other is to choose Linked Worksheet Object -> Links. .
    Using Linked Worksheet Object -> Links. may be quicker, however, if you have several links in your document because this method enables you to see a list of all links. On the other hand, you can also press Ctrl+A to select everything in your document and then press F9. (Unfortunately, Ctrl+A doesn’t select links inside headers, footers, and comments, although it’s rare that linked objects are placed in these areas.) This updates all fields in your document, not just linked objects.
  • The default setting is to update all links automatically when the information in the source file changes, but you can specify either method for any link.

    You can lock and unlock a link in the Links dialog box. However, you can also lock a link by selecting a link and pressing Ctrl+F11; unlock the link by pressing Ctrl+Shift+F11.

    Rather than locking a link, why not set the link to Manual and then just don’t update it-to ensure that you don’t accidentally manually update it. If, for instance, you press Ctrl+A to select the entire document and then press F9 to update the table of contents, index, and cross-references, you are also updating unlocked manual links.

    If you have any questions or suggestions, please feel free to ask OfficeToolTips team.

    I need help with word 2010. I have some text that appears in multiple places in five different documents. I want to link this text that from one word document (source) into the other four other documents (destination) so that if I change the text in the source document it automatically changes in the destination documents.

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    In the source document, insert a bookmark surrounding the text that is to be copied. Save the file.

    In each of the other documents, click Insert > Quick Parts > Field. In the list of field names, click IncludeText. In the Filename or URL box, enter the name of the source document. (If it’s in the same folder as the other files, all you need is the file name; otherwise you’ll need the full path. Unfortunately there is no Browse button, so you’ll have to get the path from Windows Explorer or some other source.)

    Next, click the Field Codes button at the bottom left of the dialog. In the Field Codes box, after the text that’s already there, type in the name of the bookmark in the source file. Click OK.

    If you change the text in the source document, be careful not to delete the bookmark; if you do, or if you just want to be sure everything is OK, just select the new text and insert the same bookmark again. Save the file.

    In each of the other documents, press Ctrl+A to select everything, and press F9 to update the fields. If you put an IncludeText field in any headers, footers, or text boxes, you’ll have to click them and update them individually. Although printing or just going to print preview will update most fields, IncludeText stubbornly resists that technique.

    This topic presents the detailed step-by-step instructions how to update text (which is usually referred to as “search and replace”) in many Microsoft Word files.

    1. Set the Files to Process

    1. Select the Microsoft Word Files tab.
    2. Now you have two options:
      • process only the files you select, or
      • process all files in a directory of your choice.

    The latter option is more for the power users. If you are reading this topic then an assumption of you being a novice user is more than fair, so let’s focus on the files.

    Click Add Files. :

    How to use linked text to update multiple word documents

    The standard Windows file open dialog will show up. Select one or more files and click Open.

    The files are now added to the files-to-process view:

    How to use linked text to update multiple word documents

  • There is one important thing to mention. The checkboxes you see on the right: are used with folders only, to denote that the folder’s subfolders are also to be scanned for files:How to use linked text to update multiple word documentsWith files, these checkboxes are inactive and have no effect.
  • 2. Set Text to Find and Replace

    1. Now set the find and replace strings. Assume your company is moving from Nevada to Colorado, and your CEO is also changed.
    2. When you start the program for the first time, a sample row is automatically added to help you get started. If you deleted all the rows form the search/replace grid, add one by clicking on the left.
    3. So, in the text grid, click the first cell in the Find Text column. The cell will miraculously turn into a small text editor. Type “a Nevada Corporation” here: How to use linked text to update multiple word documents
    4. Hit Enter to confirm entry. The editor will move to the Replace Text cell:
    5. Hit Enter again. This will move to the next row’s find text, or add a new row if required:
    6. To select areas in which the text of the current row will be searched for, you can click the third cell (in the Options column). Here, we have selected to search for the corporation and CEO names in the document body.
    7. Add more search and text as required.
    8. Here’s the final setup: How to use linked text to update multiple word documentsWe have added a third row just for the purpose of this demo.

    Notice that you can change the search areas for more than one text row at a time: just select the rows and use the checkboxes in Select Microsoft Word Document Areas for Selected Rows group.

  • Now, click Replace to perform actual replacements, or Just Find to locate the documents containing the text: How to use linked text to update multiple word documents
  • That’s all! Now you can use up the time you’ve just saved for something useful like playing Solitaire.
  • Word: Repeating text within a document


    You have some text in a Word document that you’d like to repeat later in that document. You don’t want to write it twice (or more), and you’d rather not copy/paste it from the other location as that means that you’ll have to remember to maintain it in both places if there are changes. If another author takes over the document, they may not know that they have to update this text in two or more places if there are changes, either.

    Of course, it would be nice if you could use a tool designed to deal with this sort of single sourcing (such as Author-it), but you’re stuck with Word.


    You assign a bookmark to the text you want to re-use, then insert a cross-reference to the bookmark text. Whenever you change the original text, you only need to update the fields in the document for the changes to apply to the second (or third) instance of that text.

    1. Select the block of text you want to repeat later in the document. This text can be a phrase, one or more paragraphs, a bulleted list, a table, etc.
    2. Insert a bookmark for the selected text (Word 2007 and later: Insert tab >Bookmark).
    3. Give the bookmark a meaningful name, click Add, then click OK.
    4. Go to the place in the document where you want to re-use the selected text.
    5. Insert a cross-reference (Word 2007 and later: References tab >Cross-reference).
    6. Select Bookmark as the Reference Type, and Bookmark Text as the Insert option.
    7. Select the bookmark name you added in Step 3, then click Insert.
    8. Whenever you change any text in the original list, just click inside the other list, then press F9 to update it (or Ctrl+A then F9 to update ALL fields in the document).


    In some situations, you might want to repeat a block of text in a document, but when the document’s finished, you might want to break the link between the two.

    For example, a colleague had a PPE (personal protective equipment) list near the beginning of her document that she needed to repeat in the main procedure table. Once all the reviews were completed and the document signed off, the procedure table was to be split from the main document into a new document of its own. So she needed to break the link between the original PPE list and the one in the procedure.

    To break the link:

    1. Select the field that contains the re-used text.
    2. Press Ctrl+Shift+F9.

    I have created a set of 8 different forms that are all populated from one input sheet. The input sheet and the 8 forms are all in the same Word document. My problem is that I need the input sheet to populate multiple different Word documents so that I can select and print one document only instead of printing all 8 forms. The input sheet and 8 forms are all protected so I cannot select one form only for printing.

    Is there way within Word or an app or simple software that will allow me to have one input sheet populate all 8 forms and then let me select which form I want to print?

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    I would keep the existing document architecture and create simple macros to print page ranges:

    Sub PrintDocument1()
    Application.PrintOut Range:=wdPrintRangeOfPages, Item:=wdPrintDocumentContent, Copies:=1, Pages:=”4-5″, PageType:=wdPrintAllPages
    End Sub

    To create macros, first make the Developer tab visible:

    1. In Word, click on the Office button, then on Word Options.
    2. Select the Popular panel.
    3. Check Show developer tab in the ribbon. OK out.

    Now create the macro:

    1. Click on the Developer tab, then on Macros.
    2. In the Macro name field, type PrintDocument1, then click on the Create button. The VBA editor opens with an outline of your macro.
    3. Remove the lines starting with green apostrophes (they are comments, any code after an apostrophe will not run).
    4. Copy and paste the text from the sample macro above so your version looks the same.
    5. Adjust the start and end page numbers so the first document is printed.
    6. Copy and paste the macro, changing the number at the end of the name and the page numbers, giving you separate macros for each document.
    7. Close the VBA editor program when you’re done.

    Finally, put macro icons on the Quick Access Toolbar and/or give your macros keyboard shortcuts:

    1. In Word, click on the Office button, then on Word Options.
    2. Select the Customize panel.
    3. To create QAT icons, change Choose command from to Macros, select a macro and click on the Add> button. The icon is added to the QAT in the upper left corner or the Word window. Each QAT icon is automatically assigned a keyboard shortcut, starting with Alt + 4 for the first macro you add.
    4. To create keyboard shortcuts, click on the Customize button at the bottom of the panel. Select Macros from Categories, then your macro name from Commands. Click inside the Press new shortcut key field and press a key combination you want to use. Then click on the Assign button and OK out.

    How to use linked text to update multiple word documents

    Audrey Goodwin

    2021-06-25 21:32:13 • Filed to: MS Word Features • Proven solutions

    To link text boxes in Word you don’t need any additional ideas for implementation. The fact is that Word has all the related tools to make sure that the best outcome is generated. The term how to link text boxes in Word is highly searched phase on Google. Linking text boxes in Word has several advantages. The flow of the info is maintained and therefore it allows you to get the doc in order you require. The text flow also means that you never get into issue when it comes to text manipulation. The Word link text boxes are highly regarded and rated mechanism.

    Steps to Link Text Boxes in Word

    The process which is related to linking text box in Word is not at all complex as some might think. The steps are highly Word confined which means that you do not want any other tool outside of Word to perform the function. The complete process which is related to the idea are explained as under.

    1. First of all you need to access the Word doc and the main tool bar to get started with the process.
    2. You then need to make sure that the “Insert” tab is clicked.
    3. Here lies the difference. You need to click the “Text Box” tool to make sure that the text boxes are drawn. Here do not insert the predefined format of the text boxes which are related to the doc. Here you need add 2 text boxes into the document. This is all because of the fact that linking always happen between two or more boxes. Also if you try to add two predefined text boxes format then the Word would not allow you to.
    4. Draw two text boxes in your document moving forward.

    How to use linked text to update multiple word documents

    How to use linked text to update multiple word documents

    Note: Word and Office 2003 are obsolete. It is very to note that the process which has been shared above is applicable to Word 2007 to the latest one i.e. 2016. You can therefore apply it with ease and there is no change in steps at all. It means that even if you are using the most recent version you will get the same results as explained in the steps above.

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    • The PDF format is a non-editing text form. It means that you can transfer the data that is highly confidential using this format. It will make sure that the file reaches the destination without any change.
    • The Word related functionalities can be performed using PDF as well. It means that you get the same feel of Word format.
    • The PDF format can also be password protected to make sure that unauthorized access is restricted.

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