Word: Macro to find and highlight a set of specified words

February 22, 2020

This is a simpler version of a previous blog post—it doesn’t require you to set up and store a separate file of the words you want to highlight.

I wanted to create a list of vague words (such as some, most, often, frequently, sometimes—words that aren’t explicit or specific enough in technical writing and editing) that a simple Microsoft Word macro could find and highlight for me. I found some macros online that each partly solved the problem, and adapted one from Macropod (Paul Edstein) to suit my purposes as it was the closest to what I wanted. Full thanks to Macropod for this one.

There are several ways you can adapt this macro—I’ve commented some of my ideas in the code. I think the words are case sensitive, so if you want one with a capital (e.g. Some), you should add it as another entry.

NOTE: Copy all the code below to the clipboard—it goes off the page, so don’t type it out as you’ll miss some of it or could make a typo—then paste it into your VBA window.

Sub VagueWords()

' Source: Paul Edstein (Macropod), 8 Aug 2015: https://answers.microsoft.com/en-us/msoffice/forum/all/how-to-search-and-replace-multiple-wordsletters-in/af4753a0-7afd-433b-910d-a148da66f2bf
' Original macro name: MultiReplace
' Adapted by Rhonda Bracey, Cybertext Consulting, 22 Feb 2020
' You could duplicate this macro with a different name (e.g. LegalWords [for must, shall, etc.]) using a different list of words in the StrFind and StrRepl lists

Dim StrFind As String
Dim StrRepl As String
Dim i As Long

' In StrFind and StrRepl, add words between the quote marks, separate with a comma, NO spaces
' To only highlight the found words (i.e. not replace with other words), either use StrRepl = StrFind OR use the SAME words in the same order in the StrRepl list as for the StrFind list; comment/uncomment to reflect the one you're using
' To replace a word with another and highlight it, put the new word in the StrRepl list in the SAME position as the word in the StrFind list you want to replace; comment/uncomment to reflect the one you're using

StrFind = "very,just,rarely,often,frequently,majority,most,minority,some,perhaps,maybe,regularly,sometimes,occasionally,best,worst,worse,better,seldom,few,many"
StrRepl = StrFind
' StrRepl = "very,just,rarely,often,frequently,majority,most,minority,some,perhaps,maybe,regularly,sometimes,occasionally,best,worst,worse,better,seldom,few,many"
Set RngTxt = Selection.Range

' Set highlight color - options are listed here: https://docs.microsoft.com/en-us/office/vba/api/word.wdcolorindex
' main ones are wdYellow, wdTurquoise, wdBrightGreen, wdPink
Options.DefaultHighlightColorIndex = wdTurquoise

Selection.HomeKey wdStory

' Clear existing formatting and settings in Find and Replace fields

With ActiveDocument.Content.Find
  .Format = True
  .MatchWholeWord = True
  .MatchAllWordForms = False
  .MatchWildcards = False
  .Wrap = wdFindContinue
  .Forward = True
  For i = 0 To UBound(Split(StrFind, ","))
    .Text = Split(StrFind, ",")(i)
    .Replacement.Highlight = True
    .Replacement.Text = Split(StrRepl, ",")(i)
    .Execute Replace:=wdReplaceAll
  Next i
End With
End Sub

For another way to do this, but instead changing the colour of a selected set of words, see https://wordribbon.tips.net/T013773_Changing_the_Color_of_a_List_of_Words.html

Update Oct 2020: A professor has made a YouTube video for his students/colleagues of this in action: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OIg95ETFxMQ

[Links last checked June 2020]

One comment

  1. […] February 2020: Macro to highlight specified words, such as those listed above as problematic: https://cybertext.wordpress.com/2020/02/22/word-macro-to-find-and-highlight-a-set-of-specified-words… […]

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