Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007, 2010, and 2013. 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: Replacing Random Text with Your Own Text.

Replacing Random Text with Your Own Text

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated November 30, 2016)

GwenDolyn knows how to use the =rand() feature to insert random text. She wonders, however, if there is a way to customize or add text to what is returned by =rand(). She uses that feature as a boilerplate/filler for demonstrations and would like to add her own verbiage.

Unfortunately, there is no way to modify what is returned by =rand() since it is a function built into Word. There are a couple of ways around this issue, however. The most likely candidates are the following: a Building Block, an AutoCorrect entry, or a macro. More on those in a moment.

First, it is important to understand that Word provides three ways you can insert random text in your document. GwenDolyn already knows about the =rand() function, which inserts some text about how to use some of the features in Word. If you prefer to read about quick brown foxes, you can use the function =rand.old() instead. Finally, you can use =lorem() to insert text that is based on the familiar lorem ipsum filler text that designers have used for decades.

If none of these options do the trick for you, one alternative is to create a Building Block entry that contains the boilerplate info you want. This can be as long of an entry as you want, and can even contain "special" elements, such as tables. Building Blocks have the advantage of being easier to insert into a document than it is to use the =rand() function. How you create Building Blocks has been covered in other issues of WordTips.

The AutoCorrect feature of Word can be used to insert a limited amount of boilerplate text, as well. Correctly set up, AutoCorrect is even faster to use than Building Blocks. All you need to do is remember the small mnemonic you create (such as bpt, meaning boilerplate text), type that mnemonic, and it is automatically replaced with the fuller boilerplate.

The drawback to using Building Blocks or AutoCorrect instead of =rand() is that they aren't as flexible; you cannot specify how many paragraphs you want and how many sentences you want per paragraph. If you want that sort of flexibility, you will need to resort to creating a macro that will do the boilerplate insertion. The following is an example of a simple macro to do such a task.

Sub RandomText()
    Dim sSent As String
    Dim iSentences As Integer
    Dim iParagraphs As Integer
    Dim J As Integer
    Dim K As Integer

    iSentences = 3    'Number of sentences per paragraph
    iParagraphs = 5   'Number of paragraphs
    sSent = "Wallace Widgets makes the best widgets in the known world. "

    For J = 1 To iParagraphs
        For K = 1 to iSentences
            Selection.TypeText sSent
        Next K
        Selection.TypeParagraph
    Next J
End Sub

You can, of course, assign this macro to a shortcut key or add it to the Quick Access Toolbar and it would insert your text (designated in the sSent variable) whenever you invoke it. You might even want to modify the macro so that instead of having the number of sentences and paragraphs "hard coded," the macro asks the user to specify how many of each it should use.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (9035) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, and 2013. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Replacing Random Text with Your Own Text.

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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