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Understanding Functions

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: Understanding Functions.

You already know that you can use subroutines in your macros. VBA also allows you to define functions that can be used in your macros. The difference between functions and subroutines is that functions can return values, whereas subroutines cannot. Consider the following VBA macros:

Sub Macro1()
    TooMany = TestFunc
    If TooMany Then StatusBar = "Too many pages"
End Sub
Function TestFunc()
    TestFunc = False
    If Selection.Information(wdNumberOfPagesInDocument) > 10 Then
       TestFunc = True
    End If
End Function

There are two macros in this code. One is the function (TestFunc) and the other is a macro (Macro1) that is used to invoke the function. When the function is executed, it can do anything that is done in a regular macro. In this case, it performs a test that results in the TestFunc variable being set to either True or False. Note that this variable name is the same as the function name. This is the value that is returned by the function to whatever program called it.

Which brings us to the Macro1 macro. Note that the TestFunc macro can appear on the right side of the equal sign. This makes functions very powerful and an important part of any program. VBA executes the function and returns whatever value is appropriate from that function and assigns it to the variable on the left side of the equal sign (TooMany). The program then acts upon the value returned.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (1535) 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: Understanding Functions.

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