Detecting the Beginning of a Sentence in a Macro

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated September 3, 2022)
This tip applies to Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Word in Microsoft 365, and 2021


1

Shelley is developing a macro that changes all capitalization permutations of "provided that" ("Provided That", "PROVIDED THAT", etc.) to lowercase. That is easy enough to do, but if the phrase starts a sentence the "P" should be capitalized. Shelley wonders if there is a way, in a macro, to tell if a phrase such as "provided that" is at the beginning of a sentence.

There are a couple of ways you could go about this. First, you could use Find and Replace to do successive searches and replacements. The macro could do the following:

  1. Change all variations of "provided that" to lowercase.
  2. Search for ". provided that" (period, space, "provided that") and replace it with ". Provided that" (proper capitalization).
  3. Repeat the search and replace in step 2 using other sentence-ending punctuation marks such as an exclamation mark, a question mark, or any of those punctuation marks followed by a quote mark.

Since this is being done in a macro, the process should go very quickly. Here's an example of one that could do the job:

Sub ChangeCase1()
    Dim vFindText As Variant
    Dim vReplaceText As Variant
    Dim orng As Range
    Dim i As Long

    vFindText = Array(". provided that", _
                      "! provided that", _
                      "? provided that", _
                      "."" provided that", _
                      "!"" provided that", _
                      "?"" provided that")
    vReplaceText = Array(". Provided that", _
                         "! Provided that", _
                         "? Provided that", _
                         "."" Provided that", _
                         "!"" Provided that", _
                         "?"" Provided that")

    ' Set all occurrences to lowercase
    Set orng = ActiveDocument.Range
    With orng.Find
        .ClearFormatting
        .Replacement.ClearFormatting
        Do While .Execute(FindText:="provided that", _
          Forward:=True, _
          Wrap:=wdFindStop) = True
            orng.Select
            orng = "provided that"
            orng.Collapse wdCollapseEnd
        Loop
    End With

    ' Account for end-of-sentence
    For i = 0 To UBound(vFindText)
        Set orng = ActiveDocument.Range
        With orng.Find
            .ClearFormatting
            .Replacement.ClearFormatting
            Do While .Execute(FindText:=vFindText(i), _
              MatchCase:=True, _
              Forward:=True, _
              Wrap:=wdFindStop) = True
                orng.Select
                orng = vReplaceText(i)
                orng.Collapse wdCollapseEnd
            Loop
        End With
    Next
End Sub

One shortcoming to this approach is that it doesn't allow for "provided that" occurring at the beginning of a paragraph. The macro could be modified to make it take such instances into account, but it would be more complex.

There is a different approach you can use, however. This one relies on a rather esoteric setting for the Case property: wdTitleSentence. This setting changes all the characters (with one notable exception) to lowercase and if the phrase is at the beginning of a sentence will change the first character to uppercase. Here's how you could use it in a macro:

Sub ChangeCase2()
    With Selection.Find
        .ClearFormatting
        .Wrap = wdFindContinue
        .Forward = True
        .Format = True
        .MatchCase = False
        .MatchWildcards = False
        .Text = "provided that"
        .Execute
        While .Found
            Selection.Range.Case = wdLowerCase
            Selection.Range.Case = wdTitleSentence
            Selection.Collapse Direction:=wdCollapseEnd
            .Execute
        Wend
    End With
End Sub

Note that within the While loop there are two assignments made to the Case property. The first sets the selection (what was found) to lowercase and the second sets it to title case for a sentence. The lowercase setting is made specific to handle the "one notable exception" I mentioned—if the text "PROVIDED that" is at the beginning of a sentence, the wdTitleSentence setting will not, for some reason, change it to "Provided that." It will, however, change "provided that" (which "PROVIDED that" becomes after setting it to lowercase) to "Provided that" with no problem.

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 (13398) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Word in Microsoft 365, and 2021.

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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What is 2 + 5?

2022-09-06 10:24:30

Andrew

Why not just add "^pprovided that" to the end of the vFindText array and "^pProvided that" to the end of vReplaceText?

Andy.


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