Outline View and Master Documents

Iron Contributor

When I click on Insert under Show Document on the Outline View ribbon, nothing happens.


My investigation and testing revealed that WORD will not insert a file that is stored in OneDrive for Business or SharePoint Online. It will, however, work if I save the file into C:\Users\[username]\Documents which is NOT synced to or saved in OneDrive or SharePoint.


I had to do some significant troubleshooting to figure out how I could find a 'spot' that is not synced/interfacing with ODB or SPO so, clearly, it's not an easy, viable option for the majority of users.


Are my findings are accurate? Is it true that Master Document and subdocuments DO NOT WORK IN M365 with files stored in its apps? And, if this is true, is there any plan to fix it so that it does? If it should be workiing, then why am I unable to insert a file, stored in my ODB libary or in a SPO library, as a subdocument? 

5 Replies
For years, the recommendation has been to NOT use the Master Document feature.

See the article "Why Master Documents corrupt” at:

and for when you need it, the article "How to recover a Master Document” at:

Word is capable of handling documents that contain thousands of pages so there is really no reason to use the Master Document feature
Then why is it still there? If, in fact, it is nonfunctional and/or not needed, then it should be removed so that users don't 'fall for it'. However, the fact that it is still there requires that it be made to work.

@LisaJo48 As I do not work for Microsoft, I cannot answer your questions.  What I can say however is:

  1. The articles for which I provided the URLs were created more than 20 years ago
  2. As you have found out, the Master Documents facility has not kept up with the times.

You can provide feedback to Microsoft via the Feedback item on the Help tab of the ribbon.

Hi Lisa, I think this functionality would be great to have as it would offer a DITA-like capability. I hope Microsoft can refocus some effort on this issue.

@Daryl1375Given that the Master Documents "Feature" has been problematic for more than twenty years (since it was first added to compete with Word Perfect which had such a feature that worked) it is unlikely that anything will be done with it soon.


Note, this is not the place to get any changes made in Word nor the attention of developers at Microsoft. This is an independent user-to-user support forum. MS does not see anything you post here. The way to get their attention is through the feedback mechanisms.