Research Hacks # 5: Microsoft Word macros for academics

For students who want to work faster, smarter and more effectively

macrosOne of the sweetest time-savers I have discovered over my years as an academic is the Microsoft Word macro. Macros are ways to automate common tasks in Word. They save you time, clicks and button presses, all of which allows you to keep your mind on the content of your writing rather than on its formatting. They also allow you to accomplish with a quick key-press operations that would otherwise require multiple mouse-clicks and navigation through all manner of windows and toolbars. The result: your fingers stay poised to type and your eyes remain focused on the screen, rather than having to break your concentration and reach for the mouse.

Word macros keyboard

Here are the common Word macros I use, with the keyboard shortcut on the left and the resultatnt formatting on the right (the code can be found at the end of this post). They must have saved me tens of thousands of clicks over the years.

word-macro-shortcuts-for-academics

Here are a few notes of explanation:

  • These shortcuts make it easier for you to find what you want in a marked-up document by using a consistent highlighting scheme. You can call up any previously marked-up document and know immediately what all your highlights meant without having to consult any custom key. The scheme I use is:
    • Green highlight for people
    • Blue highlight for names of books, articles and places
    • Orange text for quotations (in-line quotations: ALT + O; block quotations ATL + Q)
    • Yellow highlight for general highlighting of sentences or phrases that I want to be able to find again quickly
    • Red highlight for the most important words/sentences
    • Purple highlight as a catch-all or document-specific category not covered by the other colours
  • If you want to use the ALT + N macro, be sure to replace my initials (CW) in the code below with your own.

You can record your own macros by following the tutorial here, but in order to save you time I’ve included below the Visual Basic for the macros listed above for you to cut and paste into your version of Word. This way, you don’t have to download anything from my site and you can see exactly what you’re allowing onto your machine.

To use my VB:

  • Within Microsoft Word press ALT + F8 to get a list of the current macros in your normal.dotm template.
  • Click “edit” for any of the macros you see (it doesn’t matter which one). This will bring up the MSWord Visual Basic editor.
  • Scroll down to the bottom of the window and paste in the code I provide below.
  • Close the Visual Basic window. Simple! You might need to restart Word for the macros to take effect.
  • You will then need to go through the macros and assign their keyboard shortcuts manually, as I can’t find a way to incorporate keyboard shortcuts into the macros themselves. Here’s how to assign the shortcuts, courtesy of Lorien on this page:
    • Click the Microsoft Office Button , and then click Word Options.
    • Click Customize.
    • Next to Keyboard shortcuts, click Customize.
    • In the Categories list, click Macros.
    • In the Macros list, click the macro that you want to change.
    • In the Press new shortcut key box, type the key combination that you want to choose.
    • Check the Current keys box to make sure that you aren’t assigning a key combination that you already use to perform a different task.
    • In the Save changes in list, click the option that matches where you want to run your macro. Important   To make your macro available in all documents, be sure to click Normal.dotm.
    • Click Close.
  • When you next quit Word you will see a prompt saying something like “Changes have been made that affect the global template, Normal.dot. Do you want to save those changes?”. Click “yes” if you want your new macros to be available next time you open Word.

 

Sub heading1()
'
' heading1 Macro
'
'
Selection.Style = ActiveDocument.Styles("Heading 1")
End Sub
Sub heading2()
'
' heading2 Macro
'
'
Selection.Style = ActiveDocument.Styles("Heading 2")
End Sub
Sub heading3()
'
' heading3 Macro
'
'
Selection.Style = ActiveDocument.Styles("Heading 3")
End Sub
Sub heading4()
'
' heading4 Macro
'
'
Selection.Style = ActiveDocument.Styles("Heading 4")
End Sub
Sub heading5()
'
' heading5 Macro
'
'
Selection.Style = ActiveDocument.Styles("Heading 5")
End Sub
Sub heading6()
'
' heading6 Macro
'
'
Selection.Style = ActiveDocument.Styles("Heading 6")
End Sub
Sub heading7()
'
' heading7 Macro
'
'
Selection.Style = ActiveDocument.Styles("Emphasis")
End Sub
Sub NormalText()
'
' NormalText Macro
'
'
Selection.Style = ActiveDocument.Styles("Normal")
Selection.Style = ActiveDocument.Styles("Normal")
End Sub
Sub BlockQuotation()
'
' BlockQuotation Macro
'
'
With Selection.ParagraphFormat
.LeftIndent = CentimetersToPoints(1.25)
.SpaceBeforeAuto = False
.SpaceAfterAuto = False
End With
Selection.Font.Color = -654262273
End Sub
Sub yellow()
'
' yellow Macro
'
'
Options.DefaultHighlightColorIndex = wdYellow
Selection.Range.HighlightColorIndex = wdYellow
End Sub
Sub red()
'
' red Macro
'
'
Options.DefaultHighlightColorIndex = wdRed
Selection.Range.HighlightColorIndex = wdRed
End Sub
Sub blue()
'
' blue Macro
'
'
Options.DefaultHighlightColorIndex = wdTurquoise
Selection.Range.HighlightColorIndex = wdTurquoise
End Sub
Sub purple()
'
' purple Macro
'
'
Options.DefaultHighlightColorIndex = wdPink
Selection.Range.HighlightColorIndex = wdPink
End Sub
Sub CWNote()
'
' CWNote Macro
'
'
Selection.TypeText Text:="[]"
Selection.MoveLeft Unit:=wdCharacter, Count:=2, Extend:=wdExtend
Options.DefaultHighlightColorIndex = wdYellow
Selection.Range.HighlightColorIndex = wdYellow
Selection.MoveRight Unit:=wdCharacter, Count:=1
Selection.MoveLeft Unit:=wdCharacter, Count:=1
Selection.TypeText Text:="CW:"
Selection.MoveRight Unit:=wdCharacter, Count:=1
Selection.TypeText Text:=" "
End Sub
Sub OrangeText()
'
' OrangeText Macro
'
'
Selection.Font.Color = -654262273
End Sub

What academic Word macros save your time? Feel free to post them in the “Comments” section below.

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CC Image courtesy of Rachel Knickmeyer on Flickr

New Accumulator Test for Excel-based Vocabulary Learning Tool

I have added a new “Accumulator” test to Vocab Book, the Excel-based vocabulary learning tool I wrote last year. The new test simulates a tried and tested learning method: Imagine a vocab book in two columns with English words or phrases on the left and their target language translations on the right. At school I used to learn vocabulary by covering up one of the columns with a folded piece of paper and revealing each word in turn, putting a mark by the vocab item if I couldn’t remember its translation or if I guessed it incorrectly. The new test simulates that good old method, with the added feature that it remembers how many times you have guessed each word or phrase incorrectly (which is why I decided to call the test “Accumulator”) and allows you to sort the list so that the items you keep getting wrong rise to the top.

Accumulator 1

You can purchase Vocab Book securely through PayPal (it’s $5 Australian) by following this link. If you aren’t sure whether to take the plunge and spend a whole $5 on Vocab Book, you might want to download and try Vocab Book Lite, a limited version with only three built-in tests and no facility to create an Mp3 or printed book of your vocab list. You’ll also be reassured to know that I’m happy to provide a no quibbles 14-day refund to anyone who purchases Vocab Book only to find it doesn’t work on their machine.

For fuller information on Vocab Book, along with its sister workbooks Memorise It and Revision Aid, see here.

Michel Serres app now available on Google Play

I’ve written a little app to aggregate information from around the web (news, Twitter, Youtube, Google Scholar, Google Trends…) on Michel Serres. It’s nothing flash but it allows me quickly to scan various sources to see if there’s anything new on Serres, without having manually to visit plural URLs. It is free to download from the Google Play store.

Google play Serres screenshot

Get it on Google Play

Here’s the blurb:

This simple app brings together the latest news about French philosopher Michel Serres from around the web, along with an online introduction to his thought.

You can browse:

  • the latest news stories to mention Michel Serres
  • the latest tweets featuring the hashtag #MichelSerres
  • the latest youtube videos of Michel Serres
  • the latest Google Scholar citations for Michel Serres
  • the latest Serres-related activity on wordpress.com
  • a Google Trends graph plotting recent web activity for Serres against activity for other
  • living French philosophers: Alain Badiou, Catherine Malabou, Jean-Luc Nancy and
  • Bernard Stiegler

In addition, the app also gives you direct access to:

  • Serres’s amazon.com author page
  • his wikipedia page
  • and an introduction to Serres’s thought available online

Michel Serres has written over 70 books but his important work is still relatively unknown in the English-speaking world, despite being foundational to posthumanism and ecophilosophy and decisive in its contributions to object oriented thought and the new materialisms. If this app can introduce just a few people to Serres’s rich and fecund thought, it will have done its job.
This first release is pretty basic, but I hope to add extra features as time goes by.

Suite of Excel-based study aids to download: Vocab Book, Revision Aid and Memorise It

Vocab Book Revision aid Memorise it

I have now finished writing the suite of three Excel-based learning tools I’ve been working on for the past few weeks, and on this page I want to bring them together, summarise what they can do, and offer all the download links in one place.

Vocab Book

Vocab Book is a powerful, fully-featured vocabulary organiser with six different built-in tests that train the user in all four key areas of language acquisition: listening, speaking, reading and writing

  • Source to target language ‘Accumulator’ test (uncover the answers one by one and tell Vocab Book whether you guessed the word or phrase correctly)
  • Target to source language ‘Accumulator’ test (uncover the answers one by one and tell Vocab Book whether you guessed the word or phrase correctly)
  • Source to target language question and answer (when prompted with the source language word or phrase, write it in the target language and Vocab Book will tell you whether you were correct)
  • Target to source language question to answer (when prompted with the target language word or phrase, write it in the source language and Vocab Book will tell you whether you were correct)
  • Multiple Choice
  • Oral questions: The computer speaks words and phrases in the source language and the user has to write the correct translation
  • Dictation: The computer speaks words and phrases in the target language and the user has to transcribe what he or she hears
  • Pronunciation: The computer speaks words and phrases in the target language and the user has to pronounce the same phrases (using a microphone connected to their computer)

Vocab Book screenshot 2

The workbook links directly to online dictionaries (opening definitions and translations in a Chrome browser tab) so words and phrases can be looked up with one click.

Vocab Book screenshot 1

The user can enter up to 2000 words or phrases into any copy of Vocab Book (but you can have as many copies as you want).

After each test, the user receives a score, and can send the words and phrases they answered correctly to an archive list so that the next test only contains those items that have been answered incorrectly in the past.

The user can create Mp3 and paper-based vocab lists to self-test when away from the computer.

Supported languages are Arabic, Basque, Catalan, Chinese, Dutch, English, Farsi, French, German, Hindi, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Latin, Spanish and Ukranian.

You can purchase Vocab Book securely through PayPal (it’s $5 Australian) by following this link. If you aren’t sure whether to take the plunge and spend a whole $5 on Vocab Book, you might want to download and try Vocab Book Lite, a limited version with only three built-in tests and no facility to create an Mp3 or printed book of your vocab list. You’ll also be reassured to know that I’m happy to provide a no quibbles 14-day refund to anyone who purchases Vocab Book only to find it doesn’t work on their machine.

 

Revision Aid

Revision Aid is a free tool to help you revise for tests and exams. You can use it for testing yourself on anything that can be expressed in a question and answer form, like mathematical equations, facts, formulae, or historical dates.

Revision Aid screenshot 1

Test yourself in four different ways:

  • question to answer
  • answer to question
  • multiple choice question to answer
  • multiple choice answer to question

Revision Aid Screenshot 2

After each test, the user receives a score, and can send the words and phrases they answered correctly to an archive list so that the next test only contains those items that have been answered incorrectly in the past.

The download link can be found here.

 

Memorise It

Memorise It is a free Excel-based memory tool that helps you to remember facts, poetry, lines for a play, or any other text you need to commit to memory. Test yourself on your memory texts in three ways:

  • multiple choice
  • question and answer
  • cloze (fill in the gaps)

Screenshot Memorise It

After each test, the user receives a score, and can send the words and phrases they answered correctly to an archive list so that the next test only contains those items that have been answered incorrectly in the past.

Here is the download link.

Let me know if you find any bugs, or if there are any additional features you would like to see in future versions. I hope they help you learn stuff!

 

First Vocab Book testimonials

Many thanks to those who have been using and testing Vocab Book. I have ironed out a couple of minor bugs.

Thanks too to those who have sent through encouraging words about the workbook. Here are two of the first testimonials:

I love the Excel vocab book […] I have sent the link to my Mum, who is currently learning French. What a great tool!

I downloaded Vocab Book (which, being a mature age student, is exactly what I need to keep up with all the bright young brains at Monash) […] Thank you for putting your program on the web for everyone, I think it’s brilliant.

Free new revision aid software – helps you learn dates, facts, formulae, equations and anything you can express as text

As a complement to Vocab Book and Memorise It, I have written a third Excel-based study tool, called Revision Aid.

Revision Aid screenshot 1

Here is the blurb:

Revision Aid is a free excel-based workbook to help you revise for tests and exams. You can use it for testing yourself on anything that can be expressed in a question and answer form, like mathematical equations, facts, formulae, or historical dates. Test yourself in four different ways: question to answer, answer to questions, multiple choice question to answer or multiple choice answer to question.

Revision Aid Screenshot 2

Here’s what it can do…

Quick start guide

Multiple choice test

Backwards multiple choice test

Question and Answer test

Backwards Question and Answer test

You can  download Revision Aid for free by following this link.

Free new Excel-based memorisation aid and self-tester

As a spin-off from Vocab Book I have written a memorisation aid called Memorise It. Here is the blurb:

Memorise It is a free Excel-based memory tool that helps you to remember facts, poetry, lines for a play, or any other text you need to commit to memory. Test yourself on your memory texts in three ways:  multiple choice, question and answer, and cloze (fill in the gaps).

Screenshot Memorise It

Here are the demonstration videos:

Quick start guide:

Cloze test:

Multiple Choice test:

Multiple choice backwards:

Q and A backwards:

Here is the link to download the latest version. I’m reasonably confident it is stable in Windows 7 and 8 running Excel 2010 or 2013. I haven’t tested it on a mac yet. If you’re using Excel 2013 the cloze test takes a while to initiate, but if you wait it will eventually crunch the numbers and hand you back control.

Powerful and fully-featured Excel-based vocabulary learning tool

Vocab BookI have written an Excel workbook to help university students, school pupils and the rest of us to organise, learn and test knowledge of vocabulary and phrases in sixteen languages. It sits alongside its sister workbooks Memorise It and Revision Aid (for more information about the suite of workbooks, see here).

 

Vocab Book screenshot 1

Here is the blurb:

Vocab Book is a powerful, fully-featured, Excel-based vocabulary organiser with six different built in tests including multiple choice, transcription of dictated phrases and pronunciation practice.
Train yourself in all four key areas of language acquisition: listening, speaking, reading and writing.

With Vocab Book you can improve your vocabulary, your listening skills and your pronunciation in sixteen different languages, safely archiving words and phrases as you get to know them so that your list contains only the items you have yet to learn.

You can keep track of all your new vocabulary and create your own Mp3 and paper-based vocab lists to test yourself when you are away from your computer.

Supported languages are Arabic, Basque, Catalan, Chinese, Dutch, English, Farsi, French, German, Hindi, Indonesian, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Latin, Spanish and Ukranian.

Vocab Book screenshot 2

And here is a flavour of what Vocab Book can do…

Quick start guide:

Test from English into target language:

Test from target language into English:

Pronunciation test:

Test with spoken questions:

Multiple choice test:

Dictation test:

Create an Mp3 of your whole vocab book:

Produce a paper vocab book of your vocabulary list:

I offer Vocab Book “as is”. It has undergone a limited amount of beta testing (thank you Sarah Pasfield-Neofitou, Cathy Sell, Jessica Chakowa and Nadine Normand-Marconnet!) and should be relatively robust in windows 7, 8 and 10 environments running Excel 2010 onwards. For any other variations, no-one has told me how volatile Vocab Book is yet. Let me know!

You need to have Google’s Chrome browser installed to use many of the features of Vocab Book.

You can purchase Vocab Book securely through PayPal (it’s $5 Australian) by following this link. If you aren’t sure whether to take the plunge and spend a whole $5 on Vocab Book, you might want to download and try Vocab Book Lite, a limited version with only three built-in tests and no facility to create an Mp3 or printed book of your vocab list. You’ll also be reassured to know that I’m happy to provide a no quibbles 14-day refund to anyone who purchases Vocab Book only to find it doesn’t work on their machine.

It’s a project I’ve been working on in my spare time so I’m afraid I can’t provide technical support, but if you would like to offer any feedback (bugs, features you’d like to see…) do feel free to email me at christopher@christopherwatkin.com. I hope you find Vocab Book useful, and that you have half as much fun using it as I have had in getting the project to this point.

I’ve also written a memorisation tool called Memorise It, with a built in cloze test.