Re: Was "Cross references in Word ..."

Subject: Re: Was "Cross references in Word ..."
From: David Mitchell <mitchell -at- SKY -dot- NET>
Date: Mon, 9 Oct 1995 19:43:12 +0000

Ahhhh... Master Documents and Word. Nice to see new topics on this
list! It seems that every time I purge my old mail messages on this
topic, it comes up again. Oh well, it gives my fingers a workout.

Word *can* handle large documents. It does, however, punish users
for reading the documentation and using the Master Documents feature.
Master Documents do not work. The feature would work, but Microsoft
decided to design it as if file handles were not in short supply.

Each file in a Master Document eats about 2 or 3 file handles. Since
DOS only allows about 100 file handles, a Master Document could
handle about 20 subdocuments, best case. If you have graphics files
or OLE objects or equations linked to your subdocuments, each of those
uses about 2-3 file handles. Hmmm . . . not too masterful.

So how does Word handle large documents? Using either INCLUDETEXT
fields or RD fields. If you use INCLUDETEXT fields, you can number
and cross reference and do most anything you would otherwise do in a
single document. The drawback is when it comes time to print, Word
is going to try to load the entire document into memory. Could be
crash city!!! RD fields get around this, but they reset numbering in
each subdocument. Not good if you want to have continuous page

These are tried and true techniques that have been around in Word for
many versions. (Actually, this is what Geoff Bradbury is referring to
when he talks about *Master Documents*, since Word 2.0 did not have
this *feature*.)

I almost didn't respond to this, because I think Microsoft should
have to live with the perception that Word can't handle big
documents. (Maybe they'll fix Master Documents?)

But then I thought about all of the poor souls who must get their
work done.

Oh, by the way, don't think you can switch to OS/2 and solve Master
Documents. --"Hey, I'm not using DOS, right"-- The problem seems
only to get worse under Win-OS/2. Win-OS/2 sessions are still
subject to the file handle limitation. You didn't think Microsoft
would design something that works better under OS/2, did you?

Most of the books that I write are between 100-800 pages. I use Word
for all of them. It isn't the best tool for long documents, but it
has other advantages. If you have to write big documents in Word,
get Woody Leonhard's Hacker's Guide to Word for Windows. It is
primarily about WordBasic, but it has a lot of information about
Master Documents and long documents. It also documents almost every
Word 6.0 bug. It's ugly, typographically speaking, but it delivers
the goods.

All this said, I love Word. I hope Word95 solves the Master Document
problem, because we are about to switch.

Earlier message summaries follow:

Chuck Pagani -- chuckp -at- ILLUSTRA -dot- COM
. . . You can combine documents under a master document and do all those
things. Check chapter 24 of the Word 6 User's Guide.

John -dot- Renish -at- conner -dot- com
. . . Word just doesn't have the power for serious, large documents; e.g., I
have a couple of 100-odd page document with moderately complex formatting,
several figures, and about 25 tables--Word will not even open the
master documents. . . .

Geoff Bradbury - bradg -at- INTEXT -dot- CPSG -dot- COM -dot- AU
. . . I've written large publications (>200pp) using Word 2.0 & DocToHelp.
These publications include tables, complex formatting, and sizable
graphics. All done using master documents and RD fields to access the

What version of Word are u using? I won't touch Word 6 with a barge pole:
too unreliable.

David Mitchell (mitchell -at- sky -dot- net) David's Web Spot
GTW s+:- v+++ W++$>++++ po--- b++ e++ u-

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