WordPerfect Macro Tutorual:
Introducing Macros

Learn all about WordPerfect macros and how they're used


Imagine turning on a tape recorder in your computer to memorize everything you do with the keyboard or mouse. Save a document on your hard disk, for example, and the computer remembers every action you took. Play back the recording, and the computer duplicates the action.

That's the idea behind WordPerfect for Windows macros - memorizing your keystrokes and mouse movements and playing them back at the touch of a button. Of course, macros go way beyond this. You will learn all about macros, and the various functions they can perform, in this tutorial.

WordPerfect for Windows macros can be divided into two categories:

  • Recorded, where key and mouse actions are recorded in a macro file. You play back the file and WordPerfect repeats the original recording.
  • Programmed, where you use a programming language to instruct WordPerfect on what to do.

In this free tutorial, you'll learn what recorded macros are and how they are used.

Knowing When to Use Macros

No job is too small for a macro. The way you use macros will depend on how you use WordPerfect, especially how often you do the same types of jobs. The most common use of macros is to simplify WordPerfect by reducing the keystrokes or mouse clicks required to do something.

You can define a macro to perform any task you would normally perform with WordPerfect, but you really ought to reserve macros for only those chores that you do on a fairly regular basis. There's little reason in creating a macro for something you'll do just once.

Macros can be used for four distinct purposes:

  • To automate command sequences
  • To memorize passages of commonly used text
  • To simplify a series of formatting instructions
  • To program WordPerfect for use by others

Let's take a quick look at the categories and examine the special relationship each has with WordPerfect macros.

To Automate Command Key Sequences

WordPerfect uses a complex structure of menus, commands and options. Some of the commands, such as underlining, document saving, and spelling, are already given keyboard shortcuts - just press one or two keys, and these features are available for your immediate use. There's usually little need to create macros for such mundane things.

While the most commonly used features are available by pressing just a few keys, the vast majority of WordPerfect is accessible only through several layers of menus, dialog boxes, and options. Fortunately, these more arcane jewels of WordPerfect are quite conveniently accessed via a macro.

To Memorize Passages Of Commonly Used Text

One common use of WordPerfect macros is memorizing passages of text for later playback. Instead of tapping out WordPerfect for Windows each time you write it, you record it as a macro and recall it at touch of a key. You can do the same thing with other text entries, including your name and address, telephone number, company name, and common phrases such as

Sincerely,

I look forward to your prompt reply,

You just won $10,000 in our >Welcome to the Neighborhood sweepstakes!

The length of the passage of text is virtually unlimited - although if the text is very lengthy, you're better off using another WordPerfect feature to enter the text.  Merge is one option; the master document feature of WordPerfect is another. And yet another feature you can use is QuickWords.

You can use macros to store boilerplate text for use in contracts, legal briefs, reply letters, and other documents. Instead of typing commonly used words and phrases, you record the text as a macro and insert it in your documents at any point you desire. Boilerplating allows you to add customizing touches your documents while saving time and effort.

An often neglected advantage of using macros to store frequently used text is that your accuracy and spelling improves. It's easy to overlook typographical errors in your return address, salutation, or the closing of a letter. Imagine how embarrassing it would be to end your letter Sincereky, Rogerr Smth, instead of the proper Sincerely, Roger Smith (of course, if your name isn't Roger Smith, you'll be doubly embarrassed!).

The spelling checker built inside WordPerfect may catch some or all of these errors, but you may forget to check the letter before mailing it out. Perhaps a more serious error is entering the wrong social security number or phone number - items that the spelling checker does not review.

To Simplify a Series of Formatting Instructions

WordPerfect for Windows is made so that you can write a standard business letter without making lots of changes to the formatting of the document. Most letters are single spaced, with one inch margins, and this is exactly what WordPerfect gives you when you first start it.

But for more complex jobs you'll probably need to alter the formatting of your documents. Doing so requires accessing one or more WordPerfect command - note the emphasis on more, as many document formats require changing several settings in WordPerfect.

Every element in the appearance of WordPerfect's documents is controlled by a command, or a series of commands. To change the case of text to all uppercase and make it all bold, for example, you:

  • Pull down the Edit menu.
  • Choose the Convert Case command.
  • Choose the Uppercase command.
  • Choose Bold.

You're also in for a lot of steps if you use the keyboard instead of the mouse. The keystroke sequence is, Alt+E, V, L, Ctrl+B. This may not look too bad if you're only changing a word here or there, but imagine the carpal tunnel syndrome you'll have if you need to make the change dozens of hundreds of times!

But wait. Other editing functions require more steps. For instance, to modify the width of a graphics box, you must wind your way through a menu, two menu commands, and separately change all four sides of the box.

Total number of steps: at least ten!

As mentioned earlier, some of the more common tasks are provided accelerator key shortcuts. For instance, press Ctrl+B to turn bold on or off. However, not all actions have keyboard shortcuts, and it is impractical to add them to the hundreds of separate formatting options available in WordPerfect. Note also that only single-function commands are given keyboard shortcuts. There are no shortcut keys for changing the case of text, and making it bold.

Granted, the steps necessary to implement almost any formatting change are not overly complicated, so if you use a feature only occasionally, you can continue to plunk away manually at the mouse or keyboard.

But if you find yourself frequently using certain commands and command combinations, you'll save a great deal of time by encoding the activity as a macro. With the procedure stored as a macro, you can reduce the number of keystrokes to two - the Ctrl key and a single letter.

To Program WordPerfect for Use by Others

Not everyone is a whiz at WordPerfect. If others in your office use WordPerfect, and they have little or no experience with it, you can assemble some simple macros to make the program a lot easier to use.

A good example is creating and printing a mailing list. Normally, this requires fairly in-depth knowledge of WordPerfect. But with the creative use of macros, you can automate all the steps required to make and print the list. The user just sits there, pressing buttons in response to questions.

Even if you or others in your office are familiar with WordPerfect, macros can be used to simplify complicated tasks, particularly those that you may not often do. The macro stores all of the commands needed to complete a job, so you don't have to remember which buttons to press. A sample menu screen might uses macros to carry out various tasks. You can create a menu such as this one for any WordPerfect job you need done.

Next: Making Your First Macro