Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2016. If you are using an earlier version (Word 2003 or earlier), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for earlier versions of Word, click here: Checking for Matching Parentheses.

Checking for Matching Parentheses

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated April 29, 2017)

Unless you are writing very short documents, cleaning up can be one of the hardest parts of writing. The following macro double-checks your document, paragraph by paragraph, to determine if you have a balanced number of parentheses. The macro counts the number of left parentheses in each paragraph of your document and makes sure you have the same number of right parentheses. If you don't, the macro inserts a paragraph before the unbalanced paragraph indicating the error.

Sub CheckParens()
    Dim WorkPara As String
    Dim CheckP() As Boolean
    Dim NumPara As Integer, J As Integer
    Dim LeftParens As Integer, RightParens As Integer
    Dim MsgText As String
    Dim OpenChar As String
    Dim CloseChar As String

    OpenChar = "("
    CloseChar = ")"
    MsgText = "***Unbalanced parens in the next paragraph"

    NumPara = ActiveDocument.Paragraphs.Count
    ReDim CheckP(NumPara)

    For J = 1 To NumPara
        CheckP(J) = False
        WorkPara = ActiveDocument.Paragraphs(J).Range.Text
        If Len(WorkPara) <> 0 Then
            LeftParens = CountChars(WorkPara, OpenChar)
            RightParens = CountChars(WorkPara, CloseChar)
            If LeftParens <> RightParens Then CheckP(J) = True
        End If
    Next J

    For J = NumPara To 1 Step -1
        If CheckP(J) Then
            Selection.HomeKey Unit:=wdStory, Extend:=wdMove
            If J > 1 Then
                Selection.MoveDown Unit:=wdParagraph, _
                  Count:=(J - 1), Extend:=wdMove
            End If
            Selection.InsertParagraphBefore
            Selection.MoveLeft Unit:=wdCharacter, Count:=1
            Selection.Style = "Normal"
            Selection.TypeText Text:=MsgText
        End If
    Next J
End Sub

Private Function CountChars(A As String, C As String) As Integer
    Dim Count As Integer
    Dim Found As Integer

    Count = 0
    Found = InStr(A, C)
    While Found <> 0
        Count = Count + 1
        Found = InStr(Found + 1, A, C)
    Wend
    CountChars = Count
End Function

Note that there are actually two macros here. The CountChars function is called from within the main CheckParens macro. It is this latter macro (CheckParens) that is the one you should actually invoke on your document. When the macro is finished, you can search through the document, looking for the wording "***Unbalanced parens" to see where you may have problems.

Note, as well, that the way this macro is written, you could easily modify it to search for other "paired" characters. All you would need to do is change what is assigned to the OpenChar, CloseChar, and MsgText variables. For instance, if you wanted to check for unmatched brackets, you could change those variables in this way:

    OpenChar = "["
    CloseChar = "]"
    MsgText = "***Unbalanced brackets in the next paragraph"

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (1018) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2016. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Checking for Matching Parentheses.

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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