Reversing All the Paragraphs in a Document

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated November 25, 2017)

3

Jerry routinely needs to work with long documents (perhaps 30 pages) where he needs to reverse the order of the paragraphs in the document. He wonders if there is a way he can reverse the order of all of the paragraphs easily, such that the last is first and the first last.

If you only need to do this one or two times, the easiest method would be to sort the paragraphs. All you need to do is to make sure that each paragraph begins with a three-digit number, in sequential order. Then, select all the paragraphs and sort them as you would normally sort paragraphs—in descending order—and you'll be all set.

Similar to this approach, you could utilize Excel to help with the sorting. This works well if your paragraphs are fairly short:

  1. Make sure that both Word and Excel are open. Word should contain the document whose paragraphs you want to sort and Excel should contain a blank worksheet.
  2. In Word, press Ctrl+A to select the entire document.
  3. Press Ctrl+C. This copies the paragraphs to the Clipboard.
  4. In Excel, select cell B1.
  5. Press Ctrl+V. This pastes all the paragraphs into column B.
  6. Fill column A with a series of sequential numbers, for as many rows as necessary. Excel offers several ways to do this easily; just make sure that column A contains actual values, and not formulas.
  7. Select cell A1.
  8. Display the Data tab of the ribbon.
  9. Click the down arrow next to the Sort Tool and then click Descending. Excel reorders columns A and B. Your paragraphs are now in reverse order.
  10. Select cell B1.
  11. Press Shift+Ctrl+Down Arrow. All your paragraphs should now be selected.
  12. Press Ctrl+C. This copies the paragraphs to the Clipboard.
  13. Switch back to Word. All the paragraphs in the document should still be selected.
  14. Using Paste Special, choose to paste text only. (If you don't do this, you end up with an Excel table in your document.)

The downside to this approach is that you don't retain any formatting in your text; it is lost in the translation between Excel and Word. If you want to keep the formatting, you need to do the sort in Word (as previously described), or you need to rely on a macro to do the sorting. The macro approach is also a good idea if you regularly need to do this sort of document processing.

Sub ReveresParagraphs()
    Dim J As Long
    Dim Source As Document

    Set Source = ActiveDocument
    Documents.Add
    With Source
        For J = .Paragraphs.Count To 1 Step -1
            .Paragraphs(J).Range.Copy
            Selection.Paste
        Next J
    End With
End Sub

This macro creates a new document and then copies each paragraph in reverse order from the original document to the new document. Any formatting present in the source document should also be copied to the new document.

Note:

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 (4803) 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 one more than 8?

2019-07-22 15:17:33

Jennifer

Brilliant, best Microsoft Office advice on the Internet.


2017-11-25 13:28:49

Henry Noble

The use of a table, as suggested by Michael Armstrong, may be the best option if the task is a one-off. Formatting is retained, there is no need to invoke Excel, and there is no need to dive into the wonderful world of macros. SEQ can be used to provide paragraph numbers if numbers are not already present.


2017-11-25 12:25:43

MIchael Armstrong

I'm a very weak Word user, so forgive me if this is completely off the mark. But, conceptually, could you make your document a table, with column 1 being the sequence number of the row, and column 2 be the paragraphs in the original document, then sort to reverse the row order, and finally delete column 1 and then un-tableize the result?


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