Changing Information in Multiple Documents

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated August 6, 2016)

As you use Word, day in and day out, you tend to accumulate lots and lots of documents. If these documents are used for a standard purpose, it is not unusual for the documents to contain some of the same information.

For instance, you may have documents that contain stories that you submit to different newspapers and magazines. While the individual stories may be different, each document may contain your name and contact information. If your contact information changes, or if you decide to use a different spelling for your name, you may long for a way to do a universal change to all the documents at once.

Unfortunately, Word does not include this type of capability. Your options are either to rely on a third-party solution or write your own macro to do the changes. There are a number of third-party programs that offer the type of search-and-replace function necessary when working with multiple documents. The following are just a few of the ones suggested by WordTips subscribers:

Word developer Malcom Smith has also created a macro that will perform search and replaces across directories. If you want to see it, you can visit http://www.dragondrop.com. Just click the Find and Replace for Word link, at the right side of the page.

If you don't mind using your own macros, the following shows the techniques inherent in stepping through the documents in a particular folder.

Public Sub MassReplace()
    With Application.FileSearch
        .LookIn = "C:\"             ' where to search
        .SearchSubFolders = True    ' search the subfolders
        .FileName = "*.doc"         ' file pattern to match

        ' if more than one match, execute the following code
        If .Execute() > 0 Then
            ' for each file you find, run this loop
            For i = 1 To .FoundFiles.Count
                ' open the file based on its index position
                Documents.Open FileName:=.FoundFiles(i)

                ' search and replace the address
                selection.Find.ClearFormatting
                selection.Find.Replacement.ClearFormatting
                With selection.Find
                    .Text = "OldAddress"
                    .MatchCase = True
                    .Replacement.Text = "NewAddress"
                End With
                selection.Find.Execute Replace:=wdReplaceAll

                ' replace e-mail address
                With selection.Find
                    .Text = "Oldemail"
                    .Replacement.Text = "Newemail"
                End With
                selection.Find.Execute Replace:=wdReplaceAll

                ' save and close the current document
                ActiveDocument.Close wdSaveChanges
            Next i
        Else
            ' if the system cannot find any files
            ' with the .doc extension
            MsgBox "No files found."
        End If
    End With
End Sub

This macro is quite powerful, and it allows you to not just change a street address, but also your e-mail address. All you need to do is make changes to specify which directory and drive to use in your search, as well as what the old and new information is. Change the .Lookin parameter early in the macro to indicate where the macro should search; make sure you use a full path. Then, within the main body of the macro, update the .Text and .Replacement.Text parameters to reflect what you are searching for and replacing with.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (3783) applies to Microsoft Word 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003.

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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