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Chapter 15. Fields and Forms > What Is a Field? - Pg. 359

Fields and Forms 15 Word uses fields to perform all kinds of built-in functions, such as inserting auto- matic dates into headers, making calculations in tables, and creating indexes or ta- bles of contents. Chapter 2 covers how fields fit into the overall Word document. This chapter details how to insert, edit, format, and manipulate fields. There are dozens of fields in Word, and I'm not going to cover specific fields in much detail in this chapter. Rather, this chapter examines what a field is, what it does, and how it is constructed. With this foundation, it should be easy to browse through the available fields and put them to good use. Word's help file details every field in Word, lists the switches used with the field, and even gives examples. This chapter also covers forms, documents created using collections of certain types of fields. Though form fields differ in structure and use from regular Word fields, the two are conceptually similar. Forms provide a structured way to collect user input (users enter data into the form fields) and then do something with that input -- calculate it, format it, or just save it. What Is a Field? A field is a set of instructions that draws information from somewhere, formats and manipulates that information, and inserts the results into a document. This infor- mation might be drawn from another field, a file, the system clock on your computer, or from input requested when the field is activated. The set of instructions is called a field code, but inserting a field into a document normally displays the results of a field rather than the field code itself. For example, insert a date field into a document and Word displays the date and time with the same character and paragraph formatting used by the surrounding text (Figure 15-1). Select the field by clicking anywhere in it, or just by moving the insertion point over it with the keyboard, and Word shades the field in gray. This shading is used 359