Mastering Macros: Unlocking the full potential of Word

Macros are automated procedures that can perform tasks in Microsoft Word much quicker than you can carry them out by hand. They range from the relatively simple, such as accepting all the tracked changes in a paragraph or making body paragraphs following headings full-out throughout your document, to the more complex, such as analysing your document for style inconsistencies or changing Australian spellings to American ones. Mastering them is the key to truly unlocking Word’s ability to streamline your workflow.

This highly practical workshop will see you working directly with Word macros on your own laptop that you bring to the class. You will be provided with a template that includes some highly useful editing and formatting macros, and you will learn how to record, import, write and edit your own.

The workshop will consist of step-by-step instructions, group exercises and solo exercises, all to be carried out under the guidance of an expert in writing and using Word macros. It will cover:

  • Running macros – the various ways to run a macro in Word
  • Recording macros – using Word’s macro recorder to get started with making your own simple procedures
  • Editing macros – using Word’s Visual Basic Editor (VBA) to customise macros that you record or import
  • Writing and debugging macros – how to work directly with VBA (Word’s macro language)
  • Sharing macros – using templates to import and export your macros.

After completing this workshop, you will own a suite of supplied macros and also have experience in making your own. You will be able to find your way around Word’s Visual Basic Editor and know how to annotate and troubleshoot macros in VBA. You will also have been introduced to key VBA concepts such as Objects, Properties and Methods, which will allow you to find a wealth of further macros and advice online.

Most importantly, you will have gained a working knowledge of the most powerful time-saving feature of Word: the ability to set it on ‘auto-pilot’ while you sit back and watch.

You will need to bring along a fully charged laptop or MacBook, with a battery that can last for three hours. This laptop must have loaded onto it an official edition of Microsoft Word that is no older than Word 2003 and is not MacWord 2008 (which unfortunately disables macros). Please note that MacWord 2016 currently has a limited macros function, but this may be rectified by the time of the workshop (so long as you remember to install the latest updates) and should be fine for the workshop either way. No previous experience of using macros is required – just a desire to increase your efficiency and reduce monotony while editing.

Kevin O’Brien is an on-screen editor, Microsoft Word expert and prolific macro-writer with nearly 20 years of professional experience, at companies including LexisNexis (London), Mainstream Publishing (Edinburgh) and Penguin Random House (Sydney). He is currently managing editor at Scribe Publications in Melbourne, and teaches macros and other Word skills for a range of organisations, including the University of Sydney, University of Technology Sydney and IPEd’s branches in NSW, Queensland and South Australia.