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I work at a school and we sometimes will use the same template document for our assignments every year. Often we'll also re-use assignments, especially if they are just practice assignments. The problem is that the course codes and years vary. For instance, this term I have "ME101 Winter 2019" as the title to all of my documents, next term it will be "ME101 Spring 2019", while in the fall the course is "GENE121 Fall 2019".

There are several places in each document where we need to go through and manually change all the years, terms, and course codes. This leads to us missing one or two every semester, and it is generally just a pain to do.

Is it possible to make Word do this for us? For instance, can we create variables of some kind in a word document and then just update those variables each time we open a document to edit it for a new semester?

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Yes. Word (along with most other Office desktop applications) allows you to add property fields to a document that function as variables for insertion in the way you describe.

In current versions of Word, you can access the properties of a document by clicking File while the document is open and checking the right-hand side of the Info section. Click on the Properties title and click Advanced Properties for full access.

Screenshot showing info section in Word

There are a number of builtin properties you could use, or you can create custom properties of your own.

Once you've filled in the properties you want to use, you can insert references to them throughout your document. Click Insert on the ribbon and look for Quick Parts. A selection of the built-in properties will be listed under Document Property.

Screenshot showing Quick Parts on the ribbon

The rest can be inserted by clicking the Field... option. Any custom properties you add can be inserted by selecting DocProperty from the list of field names, and then looking for the name of your custom property in the center list.

Screenshot showing an example of a custom property for insertion

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