Visual Basic for Applications is the language behind the Office apps that allows you to automate tasks. But using VBA in Word has its challenges. The first is moving around in a document because of all the different types of content: Text, pictures, tables and so on. In this tutorial, I’ll show you two simple VBA procedures for navigating. One identifies the beginning of a Word document, and the other identifies the document’s end.
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About Microsoft Word VBA’s ActiveDocument
The main VBA component that we’ll rely on in both procedures is the ActiveDocument property, which returns a Document object that represents the active document. In other words, this opens the document, as a whole. You won’t need this for every VBA procedure in Word, but you will need it when you need to reference “parts” of the document.
If no Word document is open, this property returns an error. If you’re using this property from inside Excel or PowerPoint, you should include error-handling for this situation.
This property uses the following form:
expression is a variable that represents the Application object (Word). Fortunately, in Word, this is implicitly implied.
The next piece of VBA we’ll use is the Range method, which uses the form
to return a Range object. We’ll use this method to identify an area of the document.
There’s no method that says “go to the beginning,” or “go to the end,” so we’ll use the start and end arguments to identify both. Both arguments are optional, and as you might suspect,
start identifies the first character position and
end identifies the last character position.
Now, let’s move on to the actual VBA procedures.
How to use VBA to find the beginning of a Word document
Moving the cursor to the beginning of a Word document using VBA is amazingly simple. Listing A shows the procedure. First, the procedure declares and defines a range object, using 0s to identify the beginning of the document. Two 0s will place the cursor before any content in the active document. The second line adds a bit of text and the
vbNewLine constant adds a new line.
'Move cursor to the beginning of the active document.
'Add a short text phrase to show it worked.
Dim rBegin As Range
Set rBegin = ActiveDocument.Range(0, 0)
rBegin.Text = "This is the beginning of this document." & vbNewLine
Now let’s look at the second procedure that moves the cursor to the end of a document.
How to use VBA to find the end of a Word document
As mentioned, there is no method that says “go to the end,” so we need to force the issue by finding the last character. It is a bit more complex, but not difficult, as shown in Listing B. This procedure works similar to the first, but it enters the text at the end of the document, which it finds by using the Last property of the Characters object.
This time we positioned the
vbNewLine constant before the text.
'Move cursor to the end of the active document.
'Add a short text phrase to show it worked.
Dim rEnd As Range
Set rEnd = ActiveDocument.Range.Characters.Last
rEnd.Text = vbNewLine & "This is the end of this document."
How to enter and run the VBA procedures into a Word document
Now it’s time to enter both procedures for use in a Word document. I’m using a short two-page Word document, shown in Figure A, with a variety of content saved as a macro-enabled Word file. If you are using a ribbon version, you must save the Word document as a macro-enabled file to run VBA. If you’re working in the menu version, you can skip this step.
To enter the VBA procedures, press Alt + F11 to open the Visual Basic Editor (VBE). In the Project Explorer to the left, select ThisDocument. You can enter the code manually or import the downloadable .cls file. In addition, the procedure is in the downloadable .docm and .doc files. If you enter the code manually, don’t paste from this web page. Instead, copy the code into a text editor and then paste that code into the ThisDocument module. Doing so will remove any phantom web characters that might otherwise cause errors.
Now let’s run the procedures as follows:
- Click the Developer tab.
- Choose Macros in the Code group.
- In the resulting dialog, choose GoToStart (Figure B).
- Click Run.
As you can see in Figure C, the procedure inserts text and a line break at the beginning of the Word document. Now let’s repeat this process but choose GoToEnd (Figure B). This procedure inserts a line break and a bit of text to the end of the Word document, as you can see in Figure D.
One thing you might notice is that both of the inserted sentences use different formats. These sentences, like any other, will use the format in place. This is worth remembering if you want inserted text to use a specific format instead.
Most likely, you won’t want to work through all those steps to run this macro. I recommend that you add it to the Quick Access Toolbar or a custom group. If you need help with that, read How to add Office macros to the QAT toolbar for quick access.
Both VBA procedures are simple — both the procedures themselves and the tasks they complete. The goal is to show you how to navigate to both spots using VBA. Over the next few months, I’ll devote a few articles to more navigational VBA in Microsoft Word documents.