Macro Solutions for Common Office Tasks

Below are descriptions of some of the more interesting macros and forms I've developed for my clients. These were created for use in Word Perfect. Some, but not all of them, can be created in Word as well.

Bulk Printing Of Envelopes (Part One)

The Problem. Pregnant secretary with a shared printer about 6 feet away, around a corner from her work area. The printer did not have an automatic envelope feeder so every time the secretary wanted to print an envelope, she had to get up, walk to the printer, put in the envelope, wait for it to print and walk back to her desk.

The Solution. When she clicked the "Envelope" icon, instead of printing immediately, the envelope was sent to an envelope storage file. When she was ready to print a batch of envelopes, she'd click another icon to run her "Print All Envelopes" macro. She only had to get up once, feed all the envelopes, and carry the batch back to her desk.

Bulk Printing Of Envelope (Part Two)

The Problem. Most word processing software packages provide the means to print a single address on a single envelope and it's fairly automated. You can't easily print a list of names on envelopes or labels. Most software suggests that you print each address individually.

The Solution. My macro asks you to highlight a list of names and when you press [Enter] the macro asks only if you want envelopes or labels. When you've answered that question, the macro creates the envelopes or labels and send them all to the printer at once, including bar codes if you want them.

Search And Replace Gets Automated

The Problem. A firm had many forms that had many variables, including gender-specific variables. When the form is opened there are instructions included at the top:

Replace BBB with names of BUYER or BUYERS
Replace SSS with names of SELLER or SELLERS
Replace <BBBhe/she/they> with appropriate pronoun
Replace <BBBhis/her/their> with appropriate pronoun
Replace <BBBhim/her/them> with appropriate pronoun
Replace <SSShe/she/they> with appropriate pronoun
Replace <SSShis/her/their> with appropriate pronoun
Replace <SSShim/her/them> with appropriate pronoun
Replace <$$$> with purchase price
If you use "they/their/them" be sure to check all "zz" marks on verb endings
and edit where appropriate.
Edit signature blocks if appropriate.

Obviously all these instructions had to be followed and the Search&Replace feature used over and over, followed by manual editing.

The Solution. A macro retrieved the form and asked a few questions:

Enter Buyer names:
Enter Seller names:
Buyer is (m)ale, (f)emale or (g)roup [enter appropriate letter]:
Seller is (m)ale, (f)emale or (g)roup [enter appropriate letter]:
Purchase price is:

The macro used the information supplied to edit the document appropriately, including adjusting all the verb endings where necessary and deleting unnecessary signature blocks! A phenomenal time-savings and increased accuracy.

Bonus: If there are paragraphs that sometimes are included, and sometimes are omitted, the macro can include a question: "Blah-blah-blah. Include this language? [Y]es or [N]o." The macro deletes the correct paragraph(s) if appropriate. So much time saved!

Customized Symbols Menu

The Problem. Most firms use only a few of the many special symbols available. That means they have to either assign each special symbol to a keystroke, and everyone has to remember the assigned keystrokes, or they have to go through multiple steps to use a specific symbol.

The Solution. A single pop-up menu that works of one keystroke or one icon, that lists the few symbols you use the most:

A Better Way To Draw Lines

The Problem. Many firms want to create their own forms for internal use. They want to be able to draw a line on the form and later, when someone needs to fill in the form, they want to
be able to type on that line.

The Solution. This simple macro which I usually assign to Control+Shift+U, draws a line from wherever your cursor is located, to the right margin. You can go back later and type on the line.

Bonus: This macro also makes signature blocks a snap!

x Check And Uncheck The Box - Or Draw A Circle!

The Problem. Many word processing software programs allow you to create a form with a checkbox that can be checked using the mouse.

The Solution. I have a macro that lets "mouse-phobic" and elderly typists who can't manipulate a mouse check the box using a keystroke.

Bonus. I also have a macro that lets you "circle" your answer on a form like this one:

Standardize And Speed Up Creation Of Directories

The Problem. The firm wants consistent to open a directory for each client and create subfolders inside the directory for documents: letters, memos, documents, etc. This takes time, care, and accuracy.

The Solution. The macro asks only for the name you want to give the main directory. It checks to be sure a directory has not already been created (and returns an understandable error message if it has), creates the folder and all the subfolders - in seconds.

Uppercase To Initialcaps To Lowercase

The Problem. If you have text already typed and you want to change it to UPPERCASE, lowercase, or InitialCaps, most people just re-type it. Some have learned to highlight the text and use the menus to mouse or keyboard their way through changing the text without retyping. Word Perfect comes with a macro that converts text from lowercase to UPPERCASE, but not to InitialCaps.

The Solution. The macro I created circulates indefinitely between UPPERCASE, lowercase, and InitialCaps. I usually assign it to something simple like Control+Shift+K so the macro can be run easily over and over until the text looks the way you want it to.

Clip And Restore Critical Text

The Problem. The firm's existing method for summarizing documents (deposition or trial transcript, contract, lengthy witness statement):
(1) print the document
(2) attorney or other professional reads the document and uses a highlighter pen to mark text to be included in the summary
(3) word processor or typist would use the highlighted copy and
(a) either type from scratch the highlighted text or
(b) open the full text on the computer and locate-copy-and-paste the desired text into a new document, and manually adding page notations for location of the text in the original document.

The Solution. The macro allows the attorney/professional to do it all.
(1) open the full document on the computer
(2) use the mouse to highlight the desired text
(3) click a button on the toolbar that runs a macro
The macro makes a note of the page number of the highlighted text, copies the text to the secondary document and adds a notation for the page number, and adds a couple of hard returns. It then returns to the original document, beeps and clears the highlighting to provide feedback to the operator that the macro had completed its task. Repeatedly highlighting text and running the macro builds the summary. When the summary is complete, one more macro formats the summary appropriately.

Get Forms Out Of Binders And Into Your Computer!

The Problem. Each member of a firm had two three-inch thick binders of firm-created forms and standard text, organized by the area of the law and usage. Each document had a notation about where the form was stored on the network and what had to be done to use it correctly (formatting, filling in blanks, etc.). Editing, adding or deleting forms on the network and then making sure each binder was up-to-date was nearly a full-time job!

The Solution. A series of pop-up menus solved the problem. The main menu gives the areas of law. Select a area and the next menu gives you categories of documents. Select a category and get a list. Once a form is selected, the macros that are attached ask the questions needed to fill in the form correctly. The firm recycled the binders and all that paper!

Reduce Dependence on That Typewriter

The Problem. In many, many offices, staff members are found hunched over typewriters because all they have is a pre-printed form, or a form they’ve printed after downloading it from the Internet. I can understand that happening once, perhaps twice, but if that form needs to be filled in regularly, it shouldn’t be on a typewriter!

The Solution. This isn’t actually solved with a macro, but solved with a properly created form on your computer that can be filled in on the screen using your word processing software. I will do this for a fee, or I can train some member of your staff in the techniques for doing this. I already have dozens of common forms used by the federal and state governments, the Social Security Administration, the court systems, title companies, and document retrieval and copying firms, which I can provide for a per-page fee.

Printer Tray Selection Doesn't Need To Be A Chore

The Problem. This firm had two printers, each with two paper trays and an envelope feeder. One printer had beige bond paper used for original letters, beige bond envelopes and recycled draft paper. The other printer had white bond for final documents along with white envelopes and mailing labels. Remembering where everything was located and making the changes in the print menus and printers every time was taking too much time!

The Solution. This customized tray menu, in plain English, runs various macros.

Note: Items G, H, and I pull the address off the letter, without further intervention.

From First Person Singular To Third Person Singular

The Problem. In employment discrimination cases, the claimant is first required to file a claim with a government agency, written in first person. "I did thus-and-such and my boss, Mr. So-and-So, responded by telling me to blah-de-blah." Later when you want to file a complaint with the court system, you want to use the same text, but the court wants the language in third person singular, "Plaintiff did thus-and-such and his boss, Mr. So-and-So, responded by telling him to blah-de-blah." The firm in question was editing pages and pages and pages of text to manually convert from first person singular to third person singular! Think of the time!

The Solution. The macro asks first if the Plaintiff is male or female so the use of "I," "me," "my," and "mine" in the document can be converted properly. Before making that change, however, the macro pulls out all quoted material and stored it temporarily so it does not get changed. [You don't want, "Mr. Jones said, 'I don't believe we'll be needing you any more.'" to be changed to, "Mr. Jones said, "Plaintiff don't believe we'll be needing you any more.'"]

After putting all the quotes back, the macro locates all the uses of "Plaintiff" and checks to see how many words apart they are (this can be set by the operator from 5 to 15 words). If the words are too close together, both words will be highlighted so manual editing can done if necessary. Why?

For example, in the claim, a sentence might read, "I went to the storeroom and I told the attendant to wait for me." Without this last step, the converted text would read, "Plaintiff went to the storeroom and Plaintiff told the attendant to wait for him." With the last step of this macro, each of the words "Plaintiff" would be highlighted so the sentence could be edited to read: "Plaintiff went to the storeroom and told the attendant to wait for him."

Maintaining Old Address Files

The Problem. In the process of converting from DOS to Windows, many firms were appalled at the thought of entering all address information into whatever Windows-based address book was provided by their new system. They had extensive databases of client, experts, co-counsel, opposing counsel, courts, government agencies, etc. The information was sometimes stored in discrete files, one file per client, and sometimes in massive alphabetized documents. They wanted to maintain their existing system, but they also wanted improved access.

The Solution. Whatever the existing format, I wrote macros to allow rapid retrieval of data. Some macros asked for key text (it didn't have to be a last name, it could be an unusual first name or a street address) and it would find the information in massive storage documents. Other macros asked for the first couple of letters of the last name, retrieved a list of possibles (Jones, Johnson, Johnston, Johanson), and allowed the operator to pick one. These macro often worked in conjunction with (1) letters to retrieve claim numbers or (2) fax coversheets to retrieve stored phone numbers. Some clients eventually converted to a Windows-based address book, some never bothered!

Stop Manually Cleaning Up Old Documents!

The Problem. There are many reasons to "convert" old documents: (1) an old DOS-based file needs to be massaged to work with new Windows-based software; (2) letters with an old firm name or address needs to be deleted and replaced with current letterhead; (3) old fonts need to be replaced with new fonts; (4) Word documents need to be stripped of codes so that Word Perfect can work with them more easily.

The Solution. I work with the "in-coming" documents to see what needs to be deleted, replaced, or added and write a macro does all the work.

Dates Calculated In Seconds

The Problem. The firm is notified of the date of a critical event (trial, escrow closing, deadline for a filing a claim, etc. Typically a staff member marks a calendar with the date, and then counts backwards (and sometimes forwards) five days, ten days, fifteen days, twenty days, etc., etc., and enters reminders and additional deadlines for documents to be produced, decisions to be made, phone calls to be placed, etc. Some calendaring software packages do this automatically, but not everyone has the software. If they do have the software, it's sometimes cumbersome to locate and print all the dates you want in one report.

The Solution. This macro works with a table with formulas built in. You enter the critical date and press [Enter]. All the pre-set dates are automatically filled in in a matter of seconds. Easy to read: the date on the left, what's supposed to happen by that date is on the right. Send the document to the printer and you've got your printout. Nothing could be easier!

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by Loui Tucker

Now available in paperback