Do you ever find yourself repeatedly entering the same information in document after document, time and time again? I’m sure there are many instances where this is the case. Do you think to yourself “there has to be a faster way?”. Well, there is!
Tasks in Word can be automated using the macros function. Although the word macros conjures images of hard coding and advanced computer skills, sending the average VA running for the hills, it really is not the case and it’s something you can setup yourself with just your standard knowledge of Microsoft Word.
I first discovered this trick when I was working as an audio transcriptionist, many years ago. During one particular project, we were transcribing more than 40 hours of television interviews and of course in each interview, there were many sections that were repeated, for example the speaker’s name and the time stamp format, which needed inserting on each new line! After transcribing the first 10 hours, I got to thinking, there really has to be an easier, more efficient way of doing this – so I went looking for a way to speed things up.
Of course, this doesn’t just apply to transcription, it can apply to absolutely anything where you are repeatedly entering the same information into a Microsoft Word document, or carrying out a repetitive task. It could be adding a signature to a contract, for example, or adding a logo onto a letter.
For this example, let’s say you’re working with a tuition company and all of your students have just completed a project that you have got to give feedback on. Grades are from A to E with each grade receiving fairly similar feedback from you. This would be a perfect time to automate your actions… and this is how to do it.
Setup Your Macro
1. First of all, you want to create a macros based on each of the grades you will potentially be using. To do this, go to View tab > Macros > Record Macro…
2. You will then see the box below.
- Name your macro something that you will remember – it should be something descriptive and easily identifiable.
- Select where you want to store the macro. You can choose to save it either for use in all your documents, or just in this one specifically.
- Write a brief description so that you can remember what the statement is, or to advise other people of what it does if you will be distributing your file with others.
- Assign a shortcut. On this occasion we want to use the Keyboard option as we are going to use keyboard shortcut keys to initiate the macro. Alternatively you can choose to map the macro to a button in your menu bar.
- Click ‘OK’
3. You will then see a screen similar to the below. Click into the ‘Press new shortcut key’ box and then assign the shortcut key you want to use for this function. Remember: It should be a combination that you don’t already use, so try to avoid all of the standard ones already in operations. In this example we are going to press CTRL + ALT + A all at the same time. These are the keys that we will need to press to run the macro in the future.
Once this has been done click Assign
Record your Macro
4. . You are now ready to record your Macro. This can be absolutely any actions that you want to carry out within word, anything from typing text, to changing font settings, inserting images etc. and more! Tip: at this point absolutely every movement, action, mouse click, scrolling action etc. you do will be recorded, so for maximum efficiency you should already be prepared and practiced with the actions that you are carrying out and how you want it formatted so that you can execute the action smoothly.
In this case we want to write the grade A text – as per the screenshot below.
5. Once you have written this click Stop Record button located bottom left of your Word Document. That is your first macro recorded. Well done!
6. Now we need to follow the same steps to record the statements for your other grades. In this example, I would use the keys CTRL ALT B, and CTRL ALT C and so on, so it is easy for you to remember.
Run your Macro
7. Once this is all completed, you will then be ready to fill in all the students’ feedback sheets.
- Simply insert your cursor on the page at the point you want to run your action
- Press the shortcut keys or menu buttons that you have set for your macro.
Once the macro has finished running, you will then of course be able to go over your statement to include any extra individual information needed or make alterations as necessary.
Enjoy! I’d love to hear how you put this tip to use so if you’ve created a time saving macro for your work, please do leave a comment and tell us about it!