Word and master documents: don't go there!

Subject: Word and master documents: don't go there!
From: "Hart, Geoff" <Geoff-H -at- MTL -dot- FERIC -dot- CA>
To: "TECHWR-L" <techwr-l -at- lists -dot- raycomm -dot- com>
Date: Tue, 27 Mar 2001 07:56:11 -0500

Layna Andersen reports: <<I'm working in Word 2000. I've got a bunch of Word
files, with graphics in them. I've made them subdocuments under a master
document that will contain them all as chapters, along with a TOC.>>

I'm not using Word 2000, but I'm given to understand that nothing's changed
since Word 97 where master documents are concerned: don't use them. They're
buggy, likely to corrupt files, and will lead to hair loss, overtime, and
other less-desirable side-effects. If you really need to automate the
linking of separate files into a single book, either do it manually (quite
feasible for small projects, but awkward and error prone) or learn to use RD
(reference document) fields; there's a ton of information on this in the
techwr-l archives (including an excellent posting on March 24th by David
Brown), and you should be able to find plenty of information at Microsoft's

<<When I open the files within the master doc, some (not all) of the
graphics are red-x'ed (with the little generic graphic
circle-triangle-square icon). Even if I copy a graphic back in from an old
version of the file, once I save it as the subdoc, it's gone again.>>

Two likely possibilities: First, your computer may not have enough memory to
handle all the convolutions of the master document and its subdocuments.
Second, if the graphic files are linked (rather than inserted) and the path
to the files in the master document doesn't match the path in the
subdocuments, Word won't be able to find and display the graphics. There may
be additional information on this at the Microsoft site, but these are two
culprits I've read about in previous versions of Word.

--Geoff Hart, FERIC, Pointe-Claire, Quebec
geoff-h -at- mtl -dot- feric -dot- ca
"User's advocate" online monthly at

"The most likely way for the world to be destroyed, most experts agree, is
by accident. That's where we come in; we're computer professionals. We cause
accidents."-- Nathaniel Borenstein


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