Tag Archives: coding

Turbo Boost Manuscript Styling with This Simple Macro for MS Word

Like many manuscripts, this imaginary sample has a standard sequence of content that can be styled automatically with a macro applied on each heading line: head, first paragraph, subsequent paragraphs.

Styles have many wonderful uses, so it behoves any editorial process to use them. We’ve looked at several ways to apply styles, now we’ll look at a macro that will apply several styles in one click!

A common sequence of styles is one for a heading, one for the first paragraph (say, non-indented, perhaps), and then one for a regular paragraph setting that would apply to the remaining paragraphs until the next (sub)heading.

How to Create a Macro to Apply a Sequence of Styles

I put the cursor where I want to start, turn on the “start macro” recording, assign a keyboard shortcut to it, make sure it gets saved in the right template, then apply the style, use the arrow key shortcut to jump to the next para, apply style, jump to next para, apply style, etc., hit “end recording macro” and then save the template, or quit Word, to make sure it gets saved.

Editor Madeline Koch shared her smart trick of putting this sequence in a macro.
book cover cropped to banner size
Find out more about:
• Styles, starting on p. 68 of the book
• Macros, starting on p. 76
• Navigating with keyboard shortcuts, on p. 93

Sample Multi-Style Macro

In one of Madeline’s recent projects, the macro she created looked like the code below. Note the Style names are particular to her project and not standard options, so this won’t work on your computer unless you create styles with those names first:

Sub GTMapplyEndStyles() 
' GTMapplyEndStyles Macro 
' Selection.Style = ActiveDocument.Styles("NAME") 
Selection.MoveDown Unit:=wdParagraph, Count:=1 
Selection.Style = ActiveDocument.Styles("TITLE") 
Selection.MoveDown Unit:=wdParagraph, Count:=1 
Selection.Style = ActiveDocument.Styles("BIO") 
Selection.MoveDown Unit:=wdParagraph, Count:=1 
Selection.Style = ActiveDocument.Styles("TWEET") 
Selection.MoveDown Unit:=wdParagraph, Count:=1 
Selection.Style = ActiveDocument.Styles("WEB") 
Selection.MoveDown Unit:=wdParagraph, Count:=1 
End Sub

Troubleshooting Macro Recording

Always keep a copy of the original file! When making global changes, there’s always some table or list that turns out to have been created in an unsophisticated way and gets messed up by your steps. You’ll want the original to refer back when cleaning up such items.

Work out the sequence of moves for your macro in advance. Test it out on a dummy document or copy of the file before trusting it.

Speed up application of the “subsequent paragraph” style by using an advanced Find and Replace to change all “normal” styling to “subsequent paragraphs” style before you do anything else.

Saving the macro in a template is a great idea, but not necessary.

Don’t use the mouse to select text when recording a macro, use keyboard shortcuts that Word will map, instead:

  • Jump down one whole paragraph from the cursor with opt + down arrow. (In Windows: ctrl + down arrow). To jump up one paragraph, use the up arrow! Note that you may have to jump up twice, as the first move takes you only to the top of the current paragraph.
  • Don’t press only the arrow keys to move the cursor, as that records the exact number of key presses, which will not work on lines/paragraphs of different lengths. (Occasionally, a heading will run over more than one line.)

Got a gnarly Word problem? Submit your problem and we’ll try to answer it in the Q&A thread.

© This blog and all materials in it are copyright Adrienne Montgomerie on the date of publication. All rights reserved. No portion may be stored or distributed without express written permission. Asking is easy!

Quick Tricks for Applying Styles to Word Documents

Styles are applied to many good ends, in Word: production workflow, ebook coding, and making restructuring easy, to name a few. There are several easy ways to apply styles, too!

  • Styles area of the Home ribbon
  • Styles panel
  • Format painter
  • Keyboard shortcut

Word 365 Ribbon

With the cursor placed in the desired paragraph (or with all applicable text selected) click on the desired style in the Styles group on the Home Ribbon. Windows users can click the expand arrow (that the red arrow is pointing at here) to open the Styles Pane.

The Styles Pane(shown at right) is another way to access and manipulate the styles, as well as to check which styles have been applied (shown in the “Current Style” field at the top of the list).

Mac users click the Styles Pane icon on the Home ribbon. Windows users click the “expand icon” in the Styles group.

Click any entry to apply that style wherever the cursor is currently placed in the document.

Format Painter on Word’s Home Ribbon

The paintbrush icon on the left edge of the Home ribbon will copy and paste Styles. With the cursor placed in styled text on the page, click the paintbrush to copy the style (not the text), then click and drag the cursor over the text you want to apply the style to. Release, and the text will be restyled!

Double-click the icon to copy a style and stick with it! Then you can paste that style in several locations without having to copy it again.

Keyboard Shortcut for Word Styles

⌘ + ⇧ + C copies the style of whatever text is currently selected. (Windows users use: shift + ctrl + C.)

book cover cropped to banner size
For more on working with Styles, and ways to use Styles to hack your productivity, start on page 59 of the book.

To paste that style as many times as you want, simply place the cursor in the paragraph you want to apply that style to and click ⌘ + ⇧ + V. (Windows users use: shift + ctrl + V.)

This “clipboard” remains until you copy the next style, even if you copy and paste text, pictures, or other content as well.


If the text doesn’t look right even though you’ve applied the style, check that the source text actually has a style applied and isn’t just manually formatted. Secondly, clear all formatting from the troublesome text, then reapply the style.

Got a gnarly Word problem? Submit your problem and we’ll try to answer it in the Q&A thread.

© This blog and all materials in it are copyright Adrienne Montgomerie on the date of publication. All rights reserved. No portion may be stored or distributed without express written permission. Asking is easy!