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Checking for Words and Phrases

Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. If you are using a later version (Word 2007 or later), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for later versions of Word, click here: Checking for Words and Phrases.

David is a teacher who assigns his students a series of about twenty words and phrases that they must use in a composition. Each word or phrase must be used at least once. The students get one point for each time they use one of the words or phrases, although nothing extra for duplicates. David is looking for an easy way to mark their work, perhaps with a macro that searches for each word and phrase and creates some sort of record of their usage. Dave's desire is for Word to do the searching and counting so that he can focus his energy on assessing the quality of the composition.

If you want to manually figure out how many occurrences there are of a particular word or phrase, you can use Word's Find feature:

  1. Press Ctrl+F. Word displays the Find tab of the Find and Replace dialog box.
  2. In the Find What box, enter the word or phrase you want to find.
  3. Click the More button, if it is available.
  4. If you are searching for a single word, click the Find Whole Words Only check box.
  5. Click the Highlight All Items Found check box.
  6. Click Find All.

Word shows you, in the dialog box, how many occurrences it located of your word or phrase. This technique, while handy, loses some of its charm if you need to repeat it for twenty words and phrases in thirty-five different student compositions. Indeed, a macro is a more practical approach.

It would be very convenient if the number of occurrences displayed in the Find and Replace dialog box was accessible through VBA. As far as I have been able to determine, this value is not accessible. That means that you must rely on repeated searching and counting in the macro itself. One good example of how this can be done is found in the Microsoft Knowledge Base:


The code in this page could be changed, relatively easily, to search for a series of words or phrases and display all the results at once. Another rather unique approach is to reverse the assumptions about the student compositions: assume that they use each of the words or phrases (they start with a score of 20 if there are twenty words and phrases) and only subtract points if they don't use one of them.

Sub ScoreCard()
    Dim iScore As Integer
    Dim iTopScore As Integer
    Dim WordList As Variant
    Dim i As Integer
    Dim sUnused As String

    ' Enter the words or phrases in the array below;
    ' each word or phrase in quotation marks and
    ' separated by commas
    WordList = Array("Mr.", "jelly", "wince", _
      "proper", "fix", "compound", "high and dry")

    ' Counts the number of words in the array
    iTopScore = CInt(UBound(WordList)) + 1
    iScore = iTopScore

    ' Counts the number of "misses"
    sUnused = ""
    For i = 1 To iTopScore
        With Selection.Find
            .Forward = True
            .Wrap = wdFindContinue
            .Format = False
            .MatchCase = False
            .MatchAllWordForms = False
            .MatchWholeWord = True
            .Execute FindText:=WordList(i - 1)
        End With
        If Selection.Find.Found = False Then
           iScore = iScore - 1
           sUnused = sUnused & vbCrLf & WordList(i - 1)
        End If
    Next i

    ' Displays the score
    If iScore = iTopScore Then
        sUnused = "All words and phrases were used."
        sUnused = "The following words and phrases" & _
          " were not used:" & sUnused
    End If
    sUnused = vbCrLf & vbCrLf & sUnused
    MsgBox Prompt:="The score is " & iScore & _
      " of " & iTopScore & sUnused, Title:="What's the Score?"
End Sub

The macro displays a score for the composition and also displays any of the words or phrases that were not used in the composition.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (333) applies to Microsoft Word 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. You can find a version of this tip for the ribbon interface of Word (Word 2007 and later) here: Checking for Words and Phrases.

Related Tips:

Comprehensive VBA Guide Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) is the language used for writing macros in all Office programs. This complete guide shows both professionals and novices how to master VBA in order to customize the entire Office suite for their needs. Check out Mastering VBA for Office 2010 today!


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