Microsoft’s macro-programming language, Visual Basic for Applications (VBA), can automate many of your regular MS Word chores.
Here’s an introduction to creating simple and useful macros — without the work of learning to be a full-on programmer.
Trading simple for flexible and complex
Writing a macro was considerably easier 20 years ago, back when Word included the simple and intuitive WordBASIC language. If you knew Word’s various menu commands, understood the basics of Boolean logic, and could press F1 for help, you could most likely write useful macros. But with Word 97, Microsoft dropped WordBASIC for the more powerful and professional VBA.
Professional programmers were delighted — I wasn’t.
The tradeoff for a more powerful language was simplicity. Taking full advantage of Word automation requires a thorough understanding of VBA, and if you’re not a professional programmer, VBA can leave you bewildered and frustrated. However, there’s plenty you can do with just a bit of VBA knowledge — and some help from Word. I’ll show you how to create macros by recording task steps, tell you where to keep your new macros, and describe the best ways to launch them. And because I’ve dabbled in VBA, I’ll offer a few of my own simple macros.
Note: VBA isn’t limited to Word; you’ll also find it in Excel and PowerPoint. You can take much of what’s described below and apply it to the other Office applications.
All the macros and instructions I provide in this article will work for Word 2010 and 2013.