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Changing the Format of Existing Dates

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: Changing the Format of Existing Dates.

Aileen works with a lot of documents that have the date in a numeric format, such as 9/22/12. She needs to convert these dates to a different format, specifically September 22, 2012. She wonders if there is an easy way to make the change without needing to retype each date.

The answer depends, in large part, on the nature of the date you are changing. Dates in a Word document can either be straight text or a field. You can tell if the date is a field by simply moving the insertion point somewhere inside the date. If it is a field, then the entire date should be shaded in light gray once the insertion point is within the date.

If the date is a field, then you can right-click on the date and choose Edit Field from the resulting Context menu. You can then modify the field, including selecting a different date format in the Field Properties list.

If the date is regular text (not a field), then you need to look to a different solution. It is possible to go through the document and manually retype all the dates, but Aileen already found out that such an approach is tedious. This is where a macro can come in handy: to cure the tedium by programmatically doing what you would otherwise do by hand.

The following macro will step through a document, searching for all dates in the format m/d/yyyy. (There can be either one or two digits for either the month or day, but must be four digits for the year.) If a date matching this pattern is found, it is converted to the format mmmm d, yyyy.

Sub GetDateAndReplace()
    Dim FoundOne As Boolean

    Selection.HomeKey Unit:=wdStory, Extend:=wdMove
    FoundOne = True ' loop at least once

    Do While FoundOne ' loop until no date is found
        With Selection.Find
            .ClearFormatting
            .Replacement.ClearFormatting
            .Text = "([0-9]{1,2})[/]([0-9]{1,2})[/]([0-9]{4})"
            .Format = True
            .Forward = True
            .MatchWildcards = True
        End With

        Selection.Find.Execute Replace:=wdReplaceNone

        ' check the find to be sure it's a date
        If IsDate(Selection.Text) Then
            Selection.Text = Format(Selection.Text, "mmmm d, yyyy")
            Selection.Collapse wdCollapseEnd
        Else ' not a date - end loop
            FoundOne = False
        End If
    Loop
End Sub

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (3400) 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: Changing the Format of Existing Dates.

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