Sometimes, the value assigned to one multiple choice variable suggests the answer to a subsequent multiple choice variable. For example, if “he” is selected as the value for multiple choice variable [he/she/they], then, “him” or “his” will undoubtedly be the selection for another multiple choice variable [him/her/they] further down in the document if the same ‘actor’ is being referenced.
[He/she] went with [his/her] dog to the pet store because [he/she] wanted to buy [him/her] a new collar. Blue is [his/her] favorite color.
(Okay, grammarians, the last [him/her] and [his/her] sets could be better structured
to prevent noun confusion, but just play along with me here.)
Note that the first decision quite directly suggests the responses to the next two. (It does not suggest the response to the third and it may or may not suggest the response to the fourth).
Without a way to group the variables, the typical action of the Instant Database replacement scheme would assign the selection of the [he/she] multiple choice to all appearances of [he/she] throughout the document. That result, of course, is not 'okay.'
Pathagoras provides the 'way.' Simply add a short prefix to each related variable. We call this prefix a 'group name' and this group name allows you to connect related sets of multiple choice variables.
To add a group name to a multiple choice variable, type a letter, word or phrase between exclamation marks at the very beginning of each variable in the document you want to be in the group.
So the above could be written:
[!Owner!He/she] went with [!owner!his/her] dog to the pet store because [!owner!he/she] wanted to buy [!dog!him/her] a new collar. Blue is [!owner!his/her] favorite color.
(Perhaps the last group name is supposed to be “[!dog!his/her]”?)
Once assigned, a ‘!group!’ links together all variables within the same group. The result is that the selection made for the first member of the group will trigger the answer to the remaining members of the group. This is so even when the variables are not identical. (The above example illustrates that. Of course, "his/her" is not identical to "he/she".
After the document is scanned, the multiple choice provided appear in a drop down list at the right.
Drop down the list (1) and make a selection (2).
The other members of the group (but only of the specific group) are automatically chosen (3) below.
As you are designing groupings, don’t limit yourself to simple gender choices such as those above examples. Think big!
The [!actor!man/woman] went to the [!actor!ladies’/men’s] section of the department store to buy a [!actor!skirt/pair of pants] for [!actor!his/her] [!actor!wife/husband].
Try it. Copy and paste any of the above examples into a document. Run Instant Database (<Alt-D>) against them and see the results.
Keep the following concepts in mind:
•Groups are not limited to just pronouns. As the above examples illustrate, you can use group names for any multiple-choice collection.
•While an answer to the one element of the group needs to be provided by the end user, it does not matter which group member you click first.
•The result displayed for group members is typically based on the position of the answer in the list. It is not a calculated value.
•The group name can be anything. Short is better. A single word, or even a single letter, will work.
•The group name being what Word sees to determining the 'case' (ALL CAPS, Upper And Lower, lower case) of the replacement text, of the group name will control. The examples provided above illustrate this concept.
•Groups are not limited to just variables. You can use the !group names! method for <<*Options*>> and <<*Optional*>> text blocks. Click this link for more information.
To help insure consistent spelling of your !GroupNames! throughout your documents, you can append to the bottom of your Variables DropDown List a collection of !GroupNames!. Just display a document containing your favorite !groups!. Drop down your Variables List and select "Add Document's !Groupnames! to List. See this page for more info.