Adding the date and time to a Word document

Apart from just typing it in manually, there are at least three ways to add the date and time to a Word document, but two of them drive me mad

It is obviously a good idea to be able to add a date and time to a Word document, and to be able to do it without consulting your calendar and watch. Whenever I have wanted to do this, it has been because I wanted to attach a specific date and time to a specific document. If I open that document again in, say, six months, I do not want the date to be updated to the latest date. That would completely undermine the point of putting the date in there in the first place.

So, the two ways that I had previously used to try to insert the date (and time, too, probably) were of no use at all as the date and time were updated every time I opened the document. These two methods were as follows:

  • 1. With shortcut keys, in which “Alt Shift d” (without the quotes) inserts the current date and “Alt Shift t” (without the quotes) inserts the current time.
  • 2. By going to the Insert menu, clicking on “Quick Parts”, choosing “field” and then “date” or “time”.

Now that I think about it again, I can (sort of) understand why it might have a purpose that the information is updated without asking. If, for instance, you were using a proforma of a letter heading, you could insert the date by one of the above methods into the proforma. Then the current date and/or time would be correct when using the proforma for a new document. But that still doesn’t make much sense to me as I would want the date and time of creation of the specific letter permanently contained in the letter.

Anyway, this morning I thought I’d tackle the problem again as this is one of those little computer niggles that has just gone on for too long. And now I find, as is so often the case both for me and for my IT support clients, the answer was more-or-less staring me in the face all the time.

What you do is:

  • 3. Go to the “Insert” menu, click on “Date & Time” in the “Text” group, select your chosen format, and ensure that there is no tick against the “Update automatically” item.

Add date and time to Word doc
Look for “Date & Time” on the “Insert” menu

Add date and time to Word doc - no update
Make sure that “Update automatically” is not selected

Actually, what started me off on this road to discovery this morning was that I wanted to have the name of a file – including its path – automatically added in the footer of any document that uses that footer. The “path” is the precise location of the file, starting with its drive letter and then listing all the folders and sub-folders into which it is embedded. So:

  • The filename might be testfile.docx
  • The path and filename might be D:\training docs\advanced\testfile.docx

This isn’t the place to go into detail about headers and footers, but the path and filename are inserted as follows:

  • Go to the “Insert” menu, click on “Quick Parts” in the “Text” group, click on “Field” from the dropdown list, and then choose “Filename” as the field (making sure to tick the box against “add path to filename”).
Add filename and path to Word doc
Tick the box if you want the path adding to the filename

In this case, of course, I would actually want the information to be updated if I chose to change the location of the file, so the automatic updating that irritates me for the date is the right thing to do for the file location.

You might be wondering what use the path is inside the document as you’d have to find and open the document first in order to find the path. Easy: it’s for finding where a document is located by looking at a printed version (as I sometimes do with training notes prepared for clients).