I'm trying to use the following as a field in word:

{ = { NumPages } - 1 }

And I get the following error:

!Syntax Error, {

I seem to be using the right format per Microsoft. Any ideas? Thanks as always.


The following are the steps that you will have to follow to do what you are after:

  1. Press Alt+F9 to reveal the field codes.
  2. Select the whole of the {NUMPAGES} field including the { and }
  3. Press Ctrl+F9 - this will place a pair of braces { } around the NUMPAGES field so that it now looks like:

    { {NUMPAGES} }
  4. Between the { {, insert an = sign, and between the } } insert -1 so that the field now looks like:

  5. Now press Alt+F9 to hide the field codes and select the field, which will still probably shown the total number of pages and press F9 to update the fields. You should now have the result that you are after.

Previewing the document will also update the fields as will printing it if the Update Fields box is checked under the Tools>Options>Print menu item (newer versions will put it in File>Options>Display).

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The main thing to remember when working with fields is that you must use Ctrl+F9 to insert a pair of { }. Typing them in from the keyboard does not work.

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  • I'm still getting the syntax error message. See my code in the original answer - it is identical to your code. Thanks for taking the time to answer. – Mark Williams Sep 28 '14 at 11:37
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    It may look the same but if you don't follow these instructions to the letter it is not the same. I've tested this myself and I assure you that it is correct. – krowe Sep 28 '14 at 11:49
  • Thanks, @krowe! I confirm that your instructions work. The main thing to remember part, about using Ctrl+F9 to insert curly braces, is what did the trick for me. – georgebrindeiro Apr 6 '18 at 20:42
  • @krowe, I followed your instruction, but at last returns !Invalid Character Setting. – mgae2m Jan 14 '19 at 4:01
  • @mgae2m If it says that then it means that you did NOT follow my instructions. This is why I told you to be careful and follow the instructions as they are written; not as you expect them to be. – krowe Jan 14 '19 at 5:52

For those who can't get it right using Mark's advice: I have a Word 2010 and for me the trick is to add each pair of braces using Ctrl+F9. Don't type {NUMPAGES}. Type NUMPAGES, select it and press Ctrl+F9 instead.

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