Making Hyperlinks from Coded Text

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated October 15, 2021)
This tip applies to Word 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2016


Jim's Word documents have a lot of URLs that are not active hyperlinks. Each URL is "bracketed" by the text [lt] and [gt]. So, for instance, a URL might appear as [lt][gt]. Jim wonders if there is a way that a macro could find the text between the bracket codes, create a hyperlink from the found text, and then delete the bracket codes.

Searching for such instances is a snap if you use the wildcard capabilities of Find and Replace. All you need to do is search for "[lt]*[gt]" (without the quote marks) and make sure that you specify you are doing a wildcard search. The tricky part comes in getting rid of the bracket codes and making whatever was between them into an active hyperlink.

To do all of this in one pass, you really need to use a macro, as Jim suspected. Even so, the macro doesn't need to be terribly complex. Here's an example of one that will do the trick:

Sub AddHyperLinksAndClearBrackets()
    With Selection.Find
        .Text = "\[lt\]*\[gt\]"
        .Forward = True
        .Wrap = wdFindContinue
        .Format = False
        .MatchCase = False
        .MatchWholeWord = False
        .MatchWildcards = True
        .MatchSoundsLike = False
        .MatchAllWordForms = False
    End With

    Do While Selection.Find.Found
        Selection = Mid(Selection, 5, Len(Selection) - 8)
        ActiveDocument.Hyperlinks.Add Anchor:=Selection.Range, _
          Address:=Selection, SubAddress:=""
End Sub

Note that whenever a match is found (in the Do While loop), there are two commands that do the bulk of the work. The first is this one:

        Selection = Mid(Selection, 5, Len(Selection) - 8)

This command line sets the selection equal to the selection minus the beginning and ending bracket codes. In effect, it deletes the bracket codes, leaving whatever was in the middle. This is a slick little trick that precludes the need to perform a separate find-and-replace operation to get rid of the bracket codes.

After the removal of the bracket codes, the next line is executed:

        ActiveDocument.Hyperlinks.Add Anchor:=Selection.Range, _
          Address:=Selection, SubAddress:=""

This line converts the remaining selection (which should be a text-only hyperlink) into an active hyperlink.

The macro is short, sweet, and runs extremely quickly, regardless of how many coded hyperlinks you have in your document.


If you would like to know how to use the macros described on this page (or on any other page on the WordTips sites), I've prepared a special page that includes helpful information. Click here to open that special page in a new browser tab.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (672) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2016.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...


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What is 1 + 4?

2017-05-22 11:07:29


Instead of the ActiveDocument.Hyperlinks.Add command, couldn't you also use the following to have Word add it for you (with the advantage this method could be more generally used by accessing the whole panopoly of autoformat/autocorrect options?

Options.AutoFormatAsYouTypeReplaceHyperlinks = True ' Optional since this is normally already set to true


2017-05-20 11:27:51

Jim Lyons

Sweet! Thank you so much! -- Jim

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