Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Microsoft 365. 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: Cleaning Up Text in a Macro.

Cleaning Up Text in a Macro

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated March 20, 2021)
This tip applies to Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Microsoft 365


There have been many macros that I have written with the express purpose of "cleaning up" text prior to doing something else with it. For instance, inserting it in a new document or saving it in a text file. Often this process is tedious, involving examining each character in a text string and then making some decision as to what to do with it if the character is not within a range of acceptable characters.

VBA includes an interesting method that can be used to help clean up text. It is called, appropriately enough, the CleanString method. You use it as shown here:

sCleanedUp = Application.CleanString(Selection.Text)

This code line sets the sCleanedUp string equal to a "cleaned up" version of the selected text. What exactly does the CleanString method do? It removes non-printing characters in the ANSI range of 1 through 29, with the exception of 7, 9, 10, and 13. In the case of ANSI character 7, it is removed unless it is preceded by character 13, in which case it is replaced with a tab (ANSI 9). In the case of ANSI character 10, it is replaced with character 13 unless preceded by character 13, in which case it is removed. Characters 9 and 13 are not changed.

A number of other characters outside the range of 1 through 29 are also affected by the CleanString method. ANSI character 31 (the optional hyphen), character 172 (also an optional hyphen), and character 182 (the paragraph mark character) are all removed. ANSI character 160 (the non-breaking space), character 176 (another non-breaking space), and character 183 (a bullet character) are each replaced with spaces. All other characters are unchanged.

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 (13050) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Microsoft 365. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Cleaning Up Text in a Macro.

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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