Sign in with Microsoft
Sign in or create an account.
Select a different account.
You have multiple accounts
Choose the account you want to sign in with.
Use external data columns in a Word document

Want to make it easy and efficient to enter accurate, up-to-date data in a business document? You can use data from an external source in the body of a Microsoft Word 2013 document by using a combination of Microsoft SharePoint external data columns and Word content controls. For example, you may want to create a standard customer contract in a document library that contains a customer name, company name, and telephone number stored in a Line-of-Business (LOB) database, such as SAP or Dynamics CRM.

For more information, see Find content about external data and Set a file template for a document or form library.

What do you want to do?

Before you begin

Working with external data requires several pre-requisite tasks to enable secure access to the data. The following information can help you plan your next steps. Also, if you experience problems trying to work with external data, this information can help you identify the issue. To access external data, you or an administrator must do the following:

Prepare the external data source    An administrator may need to create an account and provide permissions to the data source to ensure that the right people have access to the data and that the data does not end up in the wrong hands. In an external database, the administrator may also want to create specific tables, views, queries, and so on to limit the results to just what is needed and to help improve performance.

Configure SharePoint services and accounts    An administrator must activate Business Data Connectivity Services and Secure Store Service.

Configure Secure Store Services    An administrator must do the following: determine the best access mode for the external data source, create a target application, and set the credentials for the target application.

Configure Business Data Connectivity Services    An administrator must ensure that the user who creates the external content type has permission to the Business Data Connectivity metadata store and that appropriate users have access to the external content type that the external list is based on.

Create an external content type    A user must define an external content type which contains information about connections, access, methods of operation, columns, filters, and other metadata used to retrieve the data from the external data source.

Make sure Office products are ready for use    To synchronize external data with Office products, you must have Windows 7 or later and the following free software products, SQL Server Compact 4.0, .NET Framework 4, and WCF Data Services 5.0 for OData V3 on each client computer (If necessary, you are automatically prompted to download the software). Also, make sure the Office installation option, Business Connectivity Services    is enabled (This is the default). This option installs the Business Connectivity Services Client Runtime which does the following: caches and synchronizes with external data, maps business data to external content types, displays the external item picker in Office products, and runs custom solutions inside Office products.

Top of Page

Learn more about structured documents

Structured documents control where content can appear on a document, what kind of content can appear in the document, and whether the content can be edited. Examples of structured documents include:

  • A legal document that contains legal language that should not be edited.

  • A standard cover page for a business proposal that requires an author to enter title, e-mail address, phone number, and name.

  • An invoice that automatically includes up-to-date customer data.

To create a structured document in Word 2013, you use content controls which enable you fix the position of content, specify the kind of content (text, date, picture, and so on), highlight with color, and control editing. You can also automatically link the content controls to corresponding external data columns.

Top of Page

Create external data columns in a list or library

Note:  Creating an external data column requires contribute permission or higher on the list or library.

  1. Navigate to the SharePoint site, and then navigate to the list or library.

    Note:  You cannot add an external data column to an external list.

  2. Click List or Library >List Settings or Library Settings.

  3. In the Columns section, click Create Column.

  4. Enter the name of the column, such as Customer, and then under Column Types, click External Data.

  5. Under External Content Type, click the External Content Type Picker, and then select the appropriate item from the list of external content types, for example, Customer.

  6. Decide how you want to handle any actions defined for the external content type by doing one or more of the following:

    • To display a menu of one or more actions, click Display the actions menu.

    • To make the external data column perform the default action when selected, click Link this column to the Default Action of the external content type.

  7. Under Add a column to show each of these additional fields, click Select all fields or select one or more specific field names, such as BusinessName and BusinessPhone.

Top of Page

Create a Word template to display external data in content controls

  1. In the SharePoint document library, click Library > Library Settings.

  2. Under General Settings, click Advanced settings.

  3. In the Document Template section, under Template URL, click Edit Template.

  4. After Word 2013 opens, to display or hide the Document Information Panel, on the Developer tab, in the Templates group, click Document Panel, select or clear Always show Document Information Panel on document open and initial save, and then click OK.

  5. Add standard text that you want to appear in each document.

    For example, you might want to add "boiler-plate" contract text that is required for a sales proposal.

  6. On the Insert tab, in the Text group, click Quick Parts, point to Document Property, and then click and drag each field based on the external data columns to the body of the document as content controls.

    For example, click and drag CustomerName, BusinessName, and BusinessPhone.

  7. Click File > Save, and then exit Word 2013.

  8. In SharePoint, on the Advanced Settings page of the document library, click OK.

Top of Page

Create a Word document and enter data

  1. In the document library, click Document > New Document.

  2. Edit and revise the standard text as necessary.

  3. To fill in the correct values for the external data columns, select the content control that contains the External Data Item Picker.

    For example, select the appropriate Customer name and the Customer, BusinessName, and BusinessPhone values are automatically filled for you.

  4. Click File>Save, and then exit Word.

The external data column values are saved to the Word document and also display as the corresponding external data column values for the saved document in the document library.

Top of Page

Need more help?

Want more options?

Explore subscription benefits, browse training courses, learn how to secure your device, and more.

Communities help you ask and answer questions, give feedback, and hear from experts with rich knowledge.

Was this information helpful?

What affected your experience?
By pressing submit, your feedback will be used to improve Microsoft products and services. Your IT admin will be able to collect this data. Privacy Statement.

Thank you for your feedback!