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.

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

Removing All Formatting

Getting rid of formatting from a cell or group of cells can be done using several different techniques. This tip ...

Discover More

Printing Limited Pages from a Range of Worksheets

Need to print just a few pages from a group of worksheets? The easiest way to handle the task may be through a macro, as ...

Discover More

Adding Up Tops and Bottoms

When you are working with sequenced values in a list, you’ll often want to take some action based on the top X or ...

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

Opening a Backup File

If you have Word configured to save backup copies of your document, you may want to actually load one of those copies at ...

Discover More

Searching for a Document

When switching from one version of Word to another it can be confusing to figure out where all the commands and features ...

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 eight minus 5?

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.