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Understanding Subroutines

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 Subroutines.

When you write macros, you are using a programming language called Visual Basic for Applications (VBA). This language is based on the BASIC programming language, with extensions specific to Word. One of the features of the languages is the capability to use subroutines in your programs. For instance, consider the following code, written in VBA:

Sub Macro1()
    TestSub
End Sub
Sub TestSub()
    StatusBar = "In the macro"
End Sub

The Macro1 macro does nothing but call a subroutine (TestSub), which in turn prints a message on the status bar. The subroutine then returns control to the main program.

You can have as many subroutines in a macro as you desire. The purpose of each should be to perform common tasks so you don't have to rewrite the same code all the time. You can also pass parameters to your subroutines. These parameters can then be acted upon by your subroutine. For instance, consider the following macros:

Sub Macro1()
    A = 1
    PrintIt A
End Sub
Sub PrintIt(x)
    StatusBar = x
End Sub

This is a simple macro that sets a variable, and then passes it in a subroutine call to PrintIt. This subroutine displays the value of the variable on the status bar, and then returns to the calling program. Notice that the subroutine does not use the same variable name as it was passed. This is because VBA reassigns the value of x (what the subroutine expects to receive) so that it matches the value of A (what the program is passing to the subroutine). The important thing to remember in passing parameters to subroutines is that your program must pass the same number of parameters as the subroutine expects, and that the parameters must be of matching types and in the proper order.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (1556) 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 Subroutines.

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