I have a huge report to put together, made up of over 1,000 smaller, nearly-identical reports.

Each report includes:

  • General 1:1 information (basic mail-merge stuff)
  • Lots of text, some of which may need to be disabled or have alternate text based on a boolean field.
  • A few embedded images, preferably loaded via HTTP URL, but if they have to be on the a file system thing I can do that. (Filenames will be provided as a field in the data source.) Fortunately, all images are roughly the same size/shape.
  • Several 1:m tables with a few fields apiece.

The kicker is the master/child tables. I've seen examples for Word 2000 for doing this by left-joining the master and child table and using some IF/THEN logic to know whether to jump to the next master record. But in my case, I have several of these subtables, so that approach won't really work.

So, can Word 2003 handle arbitrary master/child tables? If so, how?

If not, I considered InfoPath, but I haven't used it before, and it seems to be made for data entry, not long formatted reports.

I'm a software developer, so I could always hack something together with a massive VBA macro, or generating the report in HTML on the web server (where the data is coming from anyway). But I'm hoping Word will work without such gymnastics, since it will give the ultimate users of the report template better control over formatting and making minor changes.

  • Word... left-join... logic... Ok, i'm outta here. Is this a case of "wrong tool for the job"? Well, it seems like you are locked in on MS Office, but still... Sorry, can't help you. – lajuette Oct 18 '10 at 19:11
  • Did you ever come up with an answer to this? I am hoping to be able to reference two tables in letters using mail merge (one with vendor information, one with client), but so far am at a loss. I have been banging my head against making Excel more flexible, and it isn't working. – mfg Apr 21 '11 at 15:07

ActivDocs might be what you are looking for. It has been a few years since I had any association with the firm Keylogix, but ActivDocs was developed to be an advanced report builder.


Word doesn't really have any easy way to achieve this. However, it's good to note since you are running this whole system on a web server it's better to avoid word automation all together. Word is built for client side use as a UI and even Microsoft recommend not to use it as tool for server side automation. Instead find and use a third party component would let you do this sort of thing with ease.

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