Get Word to Highlight your Weasel Word List with one Button Click

If you have a list of weasel words you want to find in your work, you can find them individually, but that’s quite the chore. If you’d like to have Word highlight your entire list with the click of one button, you can make a Macro.

A what? Macro. Hang with me, I’ll teach you.

I have my weasel words separated by groups. My shortest list is what I call a Tense Check: was, wasn’t, were, weren’t, there was, there were, had

These generally indicate passive constructions so I want to take them out and rewrite accordingly.

To get Word to highlight them all so when I read through my chapter I’ll see them in a nice yellow highlighter, I make a macro.

(This is for Microsoft Word 2007, by the way, you may have to adjust these directions for other versions)

In the View tab to the far right is a button labeled “Macros.” Click the down arrow and choose, “Record Macro.”

1) Give it a name (It will not accept a name with a space) that you’ll remember what it’s intended to do. I’m naming this one TenseCheck.

2)Leave the Store Macro in “All Documents” so that you can use this in any document you open in Word.

3)Decide whether you want to make a button or a keyboard shortcut. I’m choosing button, so I press the “Button” button.

4)In the new popup box, you’ll see “Normal.NewMacros.TenseCheck” Click on that with your mouse then press the “Add” button in the middle to shoot your Macro over so it will now show up in your header toolbar.

5)You’ll want to assign a separate button for your Macros to distinguish them so press Modify under the box you just put your Macro in.

6)Click one of the pictures and then click ok.

7)Click ok on the last box

Now your cursor has a little tiny cassette recorder attached, meaning it is now recording your keystrokes and commands. DON’T MESS UP!

So, to get your words to highlight in the Macro, you can’t just highlight them, you have to replace them. Here’s the list of what you need to do to get the Macro to highlight words:

1)Click Home Tab

2)On the far right side press “Replace”

3)A pop up box will pop up, press the “More” button on the bottom left

4)Check the box for “Find whole words only”

5)In the find what box, write the first word you want to find:    was

6)In the replace with box, write the same word:     was

7) With your cursor still in the replace with box, go to the bottom left of your expanded pop up box and click “Format” and Press “Highlight” Look in your Home bar above your document and see what color your highlighting tool is set on, this is the color it will use. If you want a different color for this word choose a different color before going to step 8.

8) Press “Replace All” Then Click on Ok after it tells you that it replaced all.

9) Do #5,6, & 8 again for your second word:   were

10) Now click out of your Replace box.

11) Go to the View Tab and Press the down arrow in your Macro Command Box

12) Press “Stop Recording”

Now go to the top of Word and find the button picture you chose for your Macro and press it. Make sure it highlighted “was” and “were” (or whatever you chose). If nothing highlights most likely there isn’t a color in the highlighter box, and it’s going through and highlighting it with nothing.

If it did highlight correctly in the colors you wanted, (If not delete the Macro and try again–the next paragraph tells you where to delete a Macro) here’s a shortcut to input the rest of your list. We’re going to edit the macro to add words faster than doing it by hand. (Though you could do it all by hand, but if you mess up you’d have to start ALL OVER AGAIN. Not fun.)

So. Press the down arrow of your Macro Command Box again and this time choose “View Macros” and you’ll see a list of the Macros you’ve set up. Click on the one you’re working on and press “Edit” (Or if you messed up your Macro, press delete and start over and come back when you did things right.)

What you are going to see now may look scary, but don’t panic. This is the instructions for the computer on the commands you want it to do for this particular Macro.

What you need to do is find the chunk of info that is specific to an individual word. This is why I had you input two words because you can more readily see what information is specific to highlighting one word.

For this Macro the repeat starts with “With Selection. Find” and goes to “Selection.Find.Execute Replace:=wdReplaceAll”

The whole command series looks like this:

With Selection.Find
        .Text = “was”
        .Replacement.Text = “was”
        .Forward = True
        .Wrap = wdFindContinue
        .Format = True
        .MatchCase = False
        .MatchWholeWord = True
        .MatchWildcards = False
        .MatchSoundsLike = False
        .MatchAllWordForms = False
    End With
    Selection.Find.Execute Replace:=wdReplaceAll

So Highlight that entire bit of code and right click on the mouse and press copy.

Now right after the end of that code “Selection.Find.Execute Replace:=wdReplaceAll” Press the enter key to give you a space to paste that code in. Paste.

Now do you see the two places that the word “was” is? Change that to the new word on your list, for instance “wasn’t”

Repeat pasting in that code and changing the set of two words to the next word on your list until you finish with your list.

When you are done, exit by pressing the Red X

Now you’ve made a button that will highlight your entire personalized list! When you are done editing your weasel words, simply go to the Home tab, go to the far right and press “Select” then “Select All” and then change the highlighter color to “No Color” to unhighlight the words you decided to leave in the document, and you’ve got a clean copy again.

5 Responses to Get Word to Highlight your Weasel Word List with one Button Click

  1. Mike H

    Hi Melissa,

    I really like what you’ve done here, just the thing I was looking for!

    To save you from copying and pasting the same block of code, try this version. You can then just edit the list of words in one place.

    Sub HighlightWeaselWords()
    ' HighlightWeaselWords Macro
    ' Define list of Weasel words
    Dim weasels() As Variant
    weasels() = Array("increasingly", "best", "hoped", "it is agreed", "likely", "need to", "complex", "full", "proven", "would", "should", "could", "often", "generally", "usually", "probably", "significant", "easily", "some", "most", "better", "worse", "soon", "many", "few", "faster", "slower", "higher", "lower", "very", "extremely", several, exceedingly, "many", "few", "vast", "tiny", "interestingly", "surprisingly", "remarkably", "clearly", "various", "a number of", "fairly", "quite", "completely", "relatively", "substantially", "improved", "just", "it was", "often", "for the most part", "rarely", "really", "in a sense", "in a way")
    ' Iterate through the list.
    For Each Item In weasels
        Selection.Find.Replacement.Highlight = True
        With Selection.Find
            .Text = Item
            .Replacement.Text = Item
            .Forward = True
            .Wrap = wdFindContinue
            .Format = True
            .MatchCase = False
            .MatchWholeWord = True
            .MatchWildcards = False
            .MatchSoundsLike = False
            .MatchAllWordForms = False
        End With
        Selection.Find.Execute Replace:=wdReplaceAll
    End Sub


  2. melissajagears

    Thanks for the tip, Mike. For anyone seeing this, for some reason you can’t see a bit of the code. The list ends like this:

    “it is agreed,” “your last word”)

    The list he typed out doesn’t show up, especially the end part which I’m sure is very necessary

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