Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2016. 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: Automatically Inserting Brackets.

Automatically Inserting Brackets

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated July 14, 2018)

Many different documents have many different requirements for their construction. For instance, you may have a document where it is necessary to put certain recurring words within brackets so that they stand out. (Some technical manuals use this convention to designate keystrokes, such as the [Enter] key.)

If you have a need such as this, you might find it helpful to simply type your text and then go back and later add the brackets. This is where a macro can come in handy to do the adding for you. For instance, you could select the word (double-click on it) and then run a macro that would add the brackets. The following macro will easily accomplish this task:

Sub AddBrackets()
    Dim iCount As Integer
    iCount = 1
    While Right(Selection.Text, 1) = " " Or _
      Right(Selection.Text, 1) = Chr(13)
        Selection.MoveLeft Unit:=wdCharacter, Count:=1, _
          Extend:=wdExtend
        iCount = iCount + 1
    Wend

    Selection.InsertAfter "]"
    Selection.InsertBefore "["
    Selection.MoveRight Unit:=wdCharacter, Count:=iCount
End Sub

The macro compensates for any spaces or paragraph marks at the end of your selection. When you are done running it, the insertion point is left at the end of the original selection. You can assign your macro to either a keyboard shortcut or to the Quick Access Toolbar.

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 (12055) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2016. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Automatically Inserting Brackets.

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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