Auto-numbering clips in Microsoft Word

Some productions require that cuts are numbered in the manuscript. It can be tedious to keep the numbering consistent, especially if a script goes through multiple edits and things are added, taken out or moved around. Here’s a way to automatically number different types of tape using fields in Microsoft Word. This way, if you move something around, just a few key strokes keep everything nicely sequential.

Creating Fields

You can have multiple sets of fields for different elements that you want to number. For instance, if your script looks like this:

Ambience 1: Forest Walk

Cut 1: John Doe
  I come here every day. I like the forest.

Ambience 2: Thunder

Cut 2: John Doe
  Rain or shine, I'm here every morning.

You’d have one set of sequentially numbered fields for the ambience, another for the cuts.

To make things easy, here’s a Word document with various fields that you can just copy and paste into your script: fields.docx (13.2 KB)

If you’d rather create the fields yourself:

How to create sequentially numbered fields in Word
  1. Put the following in your document, right where you want the first number to appear: SEQ CUTS \* MERGEFORMAT
  2. Highlight the code (without highlighting the spaces before and after)
  3. Press cmd+F9 (Windows: ctrl+F9) to transform the code into a field.
    Whoa! This has turned the code into something even more cryptic. It should look like this: { SEQ CUTS \* MERGEFORMAT }

Note: On some MacBooks, you will have to press the fn key to turn the :fast_forward: key into F9.

  1. Highlight everything (cmd/crtl+A) and press F9.
    Okay, much better. Now, you should see a 1 where you put the field code. The shortcut alt+F9 lets you switch between the code and the number.
  2. Copy and paste the field to wherever you want to use it.
  3. Repeat step 4 to update the numbers.

The whole process looks like this:
animated auto-numbering

Numbering different types of things

To number cuts, ambi, music, what-have-you all independently, follow the instructions above, but when creating the first field, use AMBI, MUSIC, or WHATEVER instead of CUTS

Updating fields

After adding, moving or removing fields, do the following to update the numbers: select everything (cmd/crtl+A) and press F9.

Replacing existing numbers

If you already have numbers in your script and want to replace them by fields, it gets a little tricky.
Let’s say you have a script that looks something like this:

And then I remember the Nisha call, and the whole thing crumbles.

Cut 1 - Adnan S.
“I for sure a thousand percent say I was not in the car with him at that time or did I have access to the phone at that time, because I was at school that day.”

Over the past year, I’ve swiveled the Rubik’s Cube of this case so many different ways. I’ve arranged and rearranged it to come up with alternate versions of how this day might have actually gone.

Cut 2 - Adnan S.

Now, you want to replace those numbers with fields. To do that create a first field just like above. Then:

  1. Copy field to clipboard (cmd/crtl+C)
  2. Navigate the menu to EDIT > FIND > ADVANCED... > REPLACE and enter
    • Find what: (Cut )[0-9]{1,3}
      The first parentheses include what text to look for before the number, including the space.
      The following brackets say that the text is followed by numbers, and the curly brackets mean that the numbers can have one to three digits. If your cuts are not numbered yet, simply omit these two pairs of brackets.
    • Replace with: \1^c
      where \1 will be the contents of the first pair of parentheses in the find field, so Cut in this example, and ^c will be the contents of the clipboard - the field code you copied in step 1.
  3. Check Use wildcards
  4. Click Replace All
  5. Highlight the entire document and update the fields with F9