‘A Tale of Many Favorites’ Or ‘Confessions of a Formerly Hesitant Macro User’

By Jennifer Yankopolus

Initially, my favorite macros were the analysis ones: ProperNounAlyse, HyphenAlyse, and WordPairAlyse. As a new macro user, they were the easiest for me to understand and seemed to offer the biggest discernible benefits, helping me to identify inconsistencies.

After a few months of using analysis macros, I was hungry for more, grateful that they were making me more confident in my work. Where else could they enhance my editing? I tried out different types, but it wasn’t until I discovered GoogleFetch that I began to truly understand what was possible. That one macro, along with MerriamFetch, convinced me that it was worth learning how to assign—and remember—keyboard shortcuts and take the necessary time to adapt my way of doing things. (For country-specific Google and dictionary macros, consult the Macro Menu.)

While the analysis macros were easy to adopt, I confess that I had been hesitant about using macros while I was actively editing. It seemed like it would be disruptive, and I wasn’t particularly keen on having to adjust my editing routine. Since you run analysis macros only once on a document as a pre-check before you start editing, I didn’t have to use a keyboard shortcut to run them, and I didn’t have to remember to deploy them while I was in the flow of editing.

But then as I was editing, I began to notice all the small, repetitive text and punctuation edits I was making that could be carried out by macros. The inefficiency of making these edits manually suddenly became clear, and the number of macros I installed expanded as quickly as I could memorize them and their shortcuts. Gone was my reluctance to rework my process.

My current favorites take care of everyday punctuation and capitalization edits and even deleting text—small edits that my fingers are happy to transfer to the macros:

Comma: changes the punctuation mark after the current word to a comma or adds one
FullPoint: changes the punctuation mark after the current word to a full stop/period and capitalizes the next word. (Bonus feature: If there is an “and”, select it and the macro will delete that too.)
PunctuationToHyphen: changes a dash or space to a closed-up hyphen
PunctuationOff: deletes the next upcoming punctuation mark
DeleteOneWord: deletes the current word
DeleteRestOfSentence: deletes text from the cursor to the end of the sentence
CaseThisWord: changes the capitalization of the current word

I am especially aware of how much these macros, and others, have reduced the strain on my hands and wrists from gripping the mouse to select the text and precisely place the cursor. I only wish I could use them when writing emails and in Slack and other messaging apps.

Next on the horizon? To learn how to move the cursor using shortcuts. While this doesn’t involve macros (Word has preset shortcuts that will do this), it will make using these speed-editing macros more efficient and lessen the strain even more.

Jennifer Yankopolus is an editor and macro trainer in the US, and author of the Macro of the Month newsletter.

Best timesaver?

My friend Jack is a relative newcomer to macros, but when he lost all his macros in the middle of an urgent job, he realised how much time they had saved him. (“You don’t know what you’ve got ’til it’s gone!”)

After I’d helped him to get them back, he told me that the macros he had missed most were InstantFindUp, InstantFindDown and FindFwd, FindBack.

The book had a lot of technical words which the author had sometimes used with an article and sometimes without. As he read through the text, he had to keep checking for consistency, so he clicked in the word (or selected a phrase) and used InstantFindDown to jump straight to the next occurrence and then FindFwd/Back to jump back and forth between them.

It’s only a small time saving compared with using Word’s own Find facilities, but these small savings, when multiplied, do add up – if you see what I mean!

Watch them in action (and other search macros) in a 12-min video: Macro Masterclass 2. They appear in the first 2/3 minutes of the video, but then there are other fun macros you might like.

Which macro(s) could YOU not do without? Please let us know.

For me, it has to be FRedit; if that were lost and I had to do all my global find and replaces manually I’d give up doing any editing! (Watch out for the forthcoming training materials to get you started with FRedit.)

Macro security

I’ve been getting a few enquiries recently from people saying that, after Word had been updated, their macros had disappeared and/or the keystrokes assigned to them.

So back them up!

(As I wrote that, I backed up my macros and keystrokes – it took me all of 7 seconds!)

Then if something goes wrong, you can restore them from your most recent backup – that would take me all of 20 seconds.

Invest time now to save time later: set up this high-speed backup, as per the instructions in this pdf. (Separate instructions for Mac and PC provided, thanks to Jennifer Yankopolus.)

Banish RSI

Do you suffer from RSI (repetitive strain injury) from doing too much mousework? I hope not!

Jennifer Yankopolus, in her macros training course is very strong on the idea that macros can help to avoid RSI. Thankfully, it’s not something I had suffered from – but note the tense there!

Three months ago, Sue and I were on one of our many trips down to central London from Norwich, two hours each way on the train. To help pass the time, we had the idea of playing Scrabble on my laptop. At home, we often play together, against the computer which is great fun – and it’s good for marital harmony!

We only did so on one journey, but I have had RSI pain in my elbow ever since – over two months now. Why?

To play Scrabble, you have to use the mouse to shuffle the tiles around and then drag them onto the board. However, on the board, if you don’t place them accurately, they jump back to the letter rack and you have to try again. As the train does bounce around a fair bit, I was constantly gripping the mouse hard and, as I say, I’ve had RSI pain ever since, though thankfully it’s abating slowly.

Jennifer is right that macros can help you avoid RSI, and so in this video, I’ve explained how and why you can reduce the problem.