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: Highlight Words from a Word List.

Highlight Words from a Word List

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated September 11, 2021)
This tip applies to Word 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003


Paul has a document that he needs to check against a word list contained in another document. If the document being checked contains one of the words in the list, then the word in the document (not in the word list) needs to be highlighted by being made bold. The word list is large, on the order of 20,000 words, and Paul is wondering what the best way to do this is.

There are two ways you can proceed. The first is to write your own macro that will do the comparisons for you. If you put the words you want checked into a document named "checklist.doc" in the C: drive, then the following macro can be used:

Sub CompareWordList()
    Dim sCheckDoc As String
    Dim docRef As Document
    Dim docCurrent As Document
    Dim wrdRef As Object

    sCheckDoc = "c:\checklist.doc"
    Set docCurrent = Selection.Document
    Set docRef = Documents.Open(sCheckDoc)
    docCurrent.Activate

    With Selection.Find
        .ClearFormatting
        .Replacement.ClearFormatting
        .Replacement.Font.Bold = True
        .Replacement.Text = "^&"
        .Forward = True
        .Format = True
        .MatchWholeWord = True
        .MatchCase = True
        .MatchWildcards = False
    End With

    For Each wrdRef In docRef.Words
        If Asc(Left(wrdRef, 1)) > 32 Then
            With Selection.Find
                .Wrap = wdFindContinue
                .Text = wrdRef
                .Execute Replace:=wdReplaceAll
            End With
        End If
    Next wrdRef

    docRef.Close
    docCurrent.Activate
End Sub

All you need to do is have the document open that you want checked, and then run the macro. If the document containing the words to check is named differently or in a different location, just change the line that sets sCheckDoc so that it has a different full path name for the document.

Basically, the macro grabs each word from the word list and then does a Find and Replace operation using that word in the document. If you have many, many words in the word list, then the macro can take quite a while to run—20,000 Find and Replace operations is quite a few!

The other approach you can try is to use a third-party application to do the work for you. There is a good article and application available free at this site:

http://pubs.logicalexpressions.com/pub0009/LPMArticle.asp?ID=160

This approach is particularly interesting because it doesn't just make matched words bold, but allows you to set them to some color that you may desire.

Note:

If you would like to know how to use the macros described on this page (or on any other page on the WordTips sites), I've prepared a special page that includes helpful information. Click here to open that special page in a new browser tab.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (502) 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: Highlight Words from a Word List.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

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