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Don’t run screaming from macros

Don’t run screaming from macros post image

Unless otherwise noted, all instructions and screenshots are from Microsoft Office for Windows.

Whenever I’ve done training classes for law firms, the biggest bugaboo is always macros.

“Oh, no,” they cry. “That’s waaaaay too advanced for me!”

Um … no. It’s not. I promise.

People have this idea that, if they record a macro and make a mistake, it’s going to so totally screw things up they’ll never get their document fixed.

But if you’re looking to do things faster as your workload continues to pile up, macros can be a great time saver.  So many of the things you have to do repeatedly can be <gasp!> programmed.

And to prove that recording a macro is not such an advanced skill, Vivian Manning at Small City Law Firm Tech has a tutorial called Recording a Simple Word Macro.  She even shows you how to save your macro as a button on your Quick Access Toolbar (What? You’re not using that? You should!).

There, I wrote it – tempting most of you to run screaming from the blog.  Please come back, it’s not nearly as difficult as you imagine.  In fact, recording a simple macro is not difficult at all.  I promise!

All a simple, recorded macro in Word is, is this:

  • You tell Word, by turning on the Record Macro function, that you want it to record all of your Mouse Clicks / Keystrokes, until you turn the Record Macro function off again.
  • You tell Word whether you prefer to ‘run’ the Macro by way of a keyboard shortcut *or* a click of an icon.  All ‘running a macro’ means is forcing Word to replay the keystrokes that you recorded.

That’s all there is to it.  If you’re still reading, I’m going to show you how easy this is, and why you might want to ‘record’ and ‘run’ a macro.  Not run from it…

Click here to see the entire tutorial (with screen shots and everything). Note: Unfortunately, Vivian Manning’s blog is now offline. The Wayback Machine has an archived copy here.

Now, go.  At least try to record a simple macro.  And then come back and tell me how it went in the comments below!

by Deborah Savadra

I spend an inordinate amount of my time playing with computers and attempting to explain technology to lawyers and law office staff. It's not always easy, but someone's got to do it.

WOW – You read that whole post!

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  1. Oh, Wow!!! And here I thought macro = evil spawn

    1. You’re not the only one! Just try a tiny one … they’re not so bad. 😉

  2. I defined a macro successully, with a button on the Quick Access Tool Bar. It works until I log off. After re-entering and trying the macro, I get an error message “Run Time error 5941 The requested member of the collection does not exist.”

    Any suggestions?

    1. As I understand it, you’re attempting to program a macro to type the word “Page” then the page number. I’ve noticed that, in some cases (and contrary to how macro recording USED to work), the commands from the Word ribbon don’t get translated into the correct settings in the final macro code.

      I ran at your particular problem from another angle (using Insert Field rather than Insert Page Number) and tested this macro successfully:

      Sub test()
      '
      ' test Macro
      '
      '
      Selection.TypeText Text:="Page "
      Selection.Fields.Add Range:=Selection.Range, Type:=wdFieldEmpty, Text:= _
      "PAGE \* Arabic ", PreserveFormatting:=True
      End Sub

      That should work a bit better.

  3. After two decades of macro-avoidant practice your blog infused me with the confidence to try again. But alas, your friend’s ‘record a simple macro’ tutorial is
    no longer available.

    1. Ah … Vivian Manning moved her blog from posterous to posthaven, and I failed to update the link. I’ve updated it above to http://vmanning.posthaven.com/recording-a-simple-word-macro. Thanks for the heads-up.

  4. Can logic be used in macros — if/then sequences? Ex. if the property address contains NY then make all references to a state NY. If macros aren’t the solutions, do you know of another tool?

    Also, can macros be included in Word templates that pull from another source for document automation?

    Thank you.

    1. For that, I would use something like TheFormTool (theformtool.com). Try the free version first,then if you decide to upgrade, use the coupon code found at http://lab.lawyerist.com/deals/562-theformtool-pro-use-code-tll412-for-10-off-the-purchase-price.html