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. ...

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