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: Formatting Text Files with VBA.

Formatting Text Files with VBA

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated July 25, 2015)

It is not uncommon to need to format text files in Word. For instance, you may get an e-mail message from someone that needs formatting, or you may get an ASCII file from a friend. The most common necessities in formatting such a file is to remove extra spaces or tabs from the beginning of a line, extra spaces or tabs from the end of a line, removing "reply" characters from the beginning of each line, and combining lines to make paragraphs.

Doing all this by hand is time-consuming work and can easily drive you batty, particularly if the file is very large. The following macro should make it easier for you. It accomplishes all the tasks just recounted, and does them very quickly.

Sub DoASCII()
    Selection.HomeKey Unit:=wdStory
    Selection.Find.ClearFormatting
    Selection.Find.Replacement.ClearFormatting
    With Selection.Find
        .Text = "^p^w"
        .Replacement.Text = "^p"
        .Forward = True
        .Wrap = wdFindContinue
        .Format = False
        .MatchCase = False
        .MatchWholeWord = False
        .MatchWildcards = False
        .MatchSoundsLike = False
        .MatchAllWordForms = False
    End With
    Selection.Find.Execute Replace:=wdReplaceAll
    For J = 1 To 4
        Selection.Find.Text = "^p> "
        Selection.Find.Execute Replace:=wdReplaceAll
    Next J
    Selection.Find.Text = "^p^w"
    Selection.Find.Execute Replace:=wdReplaceAll
    Selection.Find.Text = "^w^p"
    Selection.Find.Execute Replace:=wdReplaceAll
    Selection.Find.Text = "^p^p"
    Selection.Find.Replacement.Text = "[{}]"
    Selection.Find.Execute Replace:=wdReplaceAll
    Selection.Find.Text = "^p"
    Selection.Find.Replacement.Text = " "
    Selection.Find.Execute Replace:=wdReplaceAll
    Selection.Find.Text = "[{}]"
    Selection.Find.Replacement.Text = "^p"
    Selection.Find.Execute Replace:=wdReplaceAll
End Sub

You should note that this macro will replace up to four levels of "> " characters put at the beginning of a line. It also assumes that the only place you want paragraph breaks are those places where a blank line exists.

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 (10895) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, and 2013. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Formatting Text Files with VBA.

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. ...

MORE FROM ALLEN

Adding an Equation Editor Tool

If you use the Equation Editor a lot in creating your documents, you'll benefit by making sure it is accessible as ...

Discover More

Deleting a View

When you no longer need a view, you can get rid of it by deleting it. Deleting unnecessary views is a good idea because ...

Discover More

Numbering on New Paragraph Doesn't Work as Expected

The Numbering feature in Word can be a bit tricky to navigate. Sometimes it works as it should, and other times it seems ...

Discover More

The First and Last Word on Word! Bestselling For Dummies author Dan Gookin puts his usual fun and friendly candor back to work to show you how to navigate Word 2013. Spend more time working and less time trying to figure it all out! Check out Word 2013 For Dummies today!

More WordTips (ribbon)

Understanding the PDF/A Format

Word allows you to save your documents in PDF format so others can easily view them. You may not know, however, that Word ...

Discover More

Converting Many DOC Files to DOCX

Need to convert a bunch of old DOC files to the newer DOCX format? Word doesn't provide the capability to convert a bunch ...

Discover More

Getting Input from a Text File

VBA includes some commands that you can use to read information from text files (non-Word documents). These commands can ...

Discover More
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WordTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.

Comments

If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is 0 + 2?

There are currently no comments for this tip. (Be the first to leave your comment—just use the simple form above!)


This Site

Got a version of Word that uses the ribbon interface (Word 2007 or later)? This site is for you! If you use an earlier version of Word, visit our WordTips site focusing on the menu interface.

Newest Tips
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WordTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.