Working with Word Document Properties

In previous versions of Word, document properties were accessed in a straightforward manner, through the Properties dialog, opened from the File menu. The process is now more complicated; in Word 2007 you click the Office button, select Prepare, and then Properties (see Figure 6.9).


Word templates and documents in Word 2002/2003 and Word 2007 formats.

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The Properties selection on the new Word Prepare menu.

P, i-. v- -ph The Properties command on the Office menu opens a new feature of Word 2007, the

Document Information Panel (see Figure 6.10), where you can modify a few of the more common built-in document properties.


The Word 2007 Document Information Panel.


The Word 2007 Document Information Panel.

Next, click the drop-down Properties button in the title bar (the initial selection is Standard) and select Advanced Properties. At last, the familiar Word properties sheet opens, to the General tab (see Figure 6.11).


The General tab of the Word properties sheet.


Click the Custom tab to see the custom document properties; these are the ones that are most commonly filled with data from Access fields. Figure 6.12 shows the Custom tab of a Word 2007 template properties sheet, with several custom document properties that are useful for creating letters and other documents filled with data from an Access select query.


The Custom tab of the Word properties sheet.


You may also want to use some of the fields on the Summary tab (see Figure 6.13), in particular the Keywords field, which is displayed in the Type column in the Windows Vista Explorer.

To create a new Word document property, enter its name in the Name field (no spaces, and you should avoid using the same name as a built-in property, although Word allows this), select the data type (Text, Numeric, Date, or Yes/No), enter a default value if desired, and click the Add button. Over years of working with Word document properties, I have discovered some limitations of Word document properties and developed some workarounds to deal with them:

If you don't specify a default value for a Text property, Word won't let you save it; instead, use a space (which is permitted) as the default value.

Date fields should generally be avoided, except for the rare cases where you actually need a default date value, because there is no way to give them a blank default value. You can format a Text value as a date, using Word field switches.

■ Numeric fields should also be avoided, both because you can't make them blank (you may not want a zero appearing in your document when the field has no data from Access), and, more importantly, because all numbers are truncated to integers. A value of 49.21 in Access will be truncated to 49 in the Word document property. As with Date values, it's best to save numeric values to a Text document property (Text values are not truncated), and then format them with the appropriate numeric format in Word.

■ Yes/No properties require you to select either Yes or No as the default value; if that is unacceptable, use a Text field, possibly converting the True or False values in an Access Yes/No field to "Yes," "No," or a zero-length string ("").


The Summary tab of the Word properties sheet.


n Sometimes, in Word 2007, after delving down a few levels from the new Ribbon, you a&JiECTSSSiS vvill see a familiar Word 2003 dialog box. If you see a tiny diagonal arrow in the lower-right corner of a group on a Ribbon, click the arrow, then the image of the dialog, to open the familiar Word 2003 dialog box for that feature (see Figure 6.14).

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