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Putting dates in Word documents

Unless otherwise noted, all instructions and screenshots are from Microsoft Office for Windows.

Most users who’ve been working with Microsoft Word for a while know how to put a self-updating date into their document (say, for the top of a letter).

But what if you want something other than today’s date?  You may want to display the last time the document was updated (to keep up with which day’s draft you’re looking at), or the date the document was created, or when it was last printed.  Sometimes, particularly when multiple people are reviewing/editing a document, that’s important information to print on a draft.

So what do you do?

Here’s how to embed those document-specific dates into your document:

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Word 2002-2003

  • Go to Insert, Field.
  • Under Categories, choose Date and Time in the drop-down.

autodate

  • Under Field Properties, Date Formats, pick the right format.  For example, if you want to embed the date and time the last draft was saved into the header or footer, you can make the choices reflected above.
  • Click OK.

Word 2007-2010

  • Go to the Insert tab.
  • In the Text section of the Insert tab (toward the right end of the ribbon), click Quick Parts, then choose Field.
  • Just as in versions 2002-2003, choose Date and Time in the drop-down under Categories.

  • Under Field Properties, Date Formats, pick the right format. For example, if you want to embed the date and time the last draft was saved into the header or footer, you can make the choices reflected above.
  • Click OK.

One caveat: You may notice that, when you edit the document later, the date/time field doesn’t seem to update itself.  Don’t worry — when you print it or re-open it after saving, the field will automatically update itself.  If you want to force it to update for any reason, just click on the field and hit F9 to refresh it.

What automatic dates do you need to be able to use in documents? Tell me, tell me — just leave a comment below!

by Deborah Savadra

I spend an inordinate amount of my time playing with computers and attempting to explain technology to lawyers and law office staff. It's not always easy, but someone's got to do it.

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  1. Hi There, Is there a way to generate a date 2 weeks later from the date the letter will be printed? I don’t know if this would be possible.
    Sheena