Surfacing SharePoint Content in Microsoft Word

In one of my demos at the SharePoint conference, I talked about surfacing data from a SharePoint list inside of a Word document. This is a relatively easy no-code way of making your (or your user’s) lives just a little bit more efficient when they are working with a document that they end up having to put together again and again and again. In my world, this is a Statement of Work. In yours it could be a technical specification, a legal contract, an NDA or any number of documents that are essentially template-driven.

Many of these documents have data that is just a representation of data that is actually stored somewhere else.  In my case, I created a customer list in SharePoint that represented the “true” location of my customers.  Instead of asking users to cut and paste from this list into the document, I chose to surface it directly.   (Watch for a future post to get into details how I would do exactly the same thing if my customer list was actually hosted outside of SharePoint in a CRM).

Here’s an example of a statement of work that surfaces the customer name in a text box, the middle of a paragraph and as part of a heading.  You can image that there is also customer address information, a signatory and various other customer info sprinkled throughout the document.

What’s cool is that each of these customer names is bound back to the SharePoint list.  In fact, there is a drop down list associated with each of them.  I just need to select the name to be able to change and the rest of the customer information instantly across every location it appears within the document!

What’s even cooler is that this solution requires ABSOLUTELY NO CODE and is simple enough for almost any SharePoint user to be able to figure it out.

What it requires:

  1. The ability to make a SharePoint list (to store your customers)
  2. The ability to make or modify a document library (ideally, you want to make a new default template for the library)
  3. A document that represents the final product (ie, an existing statement of work, contract, proposal, etc…)

How to do it:

  1. Create a custom list with a few columns that represent your customer info (name, address, contact name, etc…).  I’m assuming you know how to create a custom SharePoint list.  If not, here’s the first search result that I found.
  2. Create a new document library and add a new column of type lookup.

    Point to the column to the list you created (in my case, this list is called Customers) and choose any additional columns that you would like to be brought over.
  3. Create a new document in the document library and open it.
  4. Next, you will map the values of the SharePoint list into the document.  SharePoint does us the favor of saving them as document properties.
    On the Insert Tab, select Quick Parts, then Document Property and simply select the name of the property.  Voila, it will be added to your document.
  5. Finally, you’ll want to save this document as the default template for the document library.

This is a really easy thing to do that can dramatically speed up the time it takes your users to get these documents created!

2 thoughts on “Surfacing SharePoint Content in Microsoft Word

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