The Proofreader's Parlour
A blog for editors, proofreaders and writers
MultiSwitch is another gem of a macro created by my colleague Paul Beverley.
It’s available in his free book, Computer Tools for Editors.
In a nutshell, it allows you to switch around a word (or words) with a single keyboard shortcut. I use it to save time with every single Word-based project I work on.
So imagine that you’re editing or proofreading a Word file in which the author repeatedly uses ‘which’ for restrictive relative clauses. You want to change it to ‘that’. This means carrying out three small actions: select, delete and retype.
That’s not a problem if the issue occurs twice in a file, but if it occurs tens or hundreds of times, those seconds are going to add up and eat into your hourly rate. And let’s not get started on the ache in your wrist!
Naturally, you might notice that a particular job has a number of similar niggles that you want to attend to, in which case this macro will be even more of a productivity-enhancer.
I’m currently working on an 85K+ academic book in Word – multiple authors, some whose first language isn’t English. The publisher is a stickler for the which/that and last/past prescriptions, even though many in the UK are a little more forgiving. There are hundreds of instances, and MultiSwitch is saving me soooo much time!
Give it a whirl!
MultiSwitch in action
To run MultiSwitch, you simply place your cursor before or in the word you want to change (in our example here, ‘which’), and hit your keyboard shortcut (I’ve assigned Ctrl Q, but you can choose whatever you like). Then, bingo, the macro amends ‘which’ to ‘that’.
Here's a teeny-tiny video of me using MultiSwitch. This demo aims merely to show you where to place the cursor prior to hitting your assigned shortcut key command, and what you will see on your screen (a little flickering as the macro makes the switch).
If you don’t know how to assign a keyboard shortcut, don’t worry – I’ll show you how later in the article.
The beauty of MultiSwitch is that you need only one keyboard shortcut for a ton of different word switches. My list currently includes the following switch options:
Go to Paul’s website and download Computer Tools for Editors.
Save the zipped folder to your computer and extract three files: one is an overview of the macros – what they are, what they do, how to store them and so on – plus all the programs themselves; another contains just the actual macro programs; a third is called ‘Beginners Start Here’; and the final file is a style sheet. The file you need to open in Word is ‘The Macros’.
Use Word’s navigation menu on a Mac (or Ctrl F on a PC) to open the Find function. Type ‘Sub MultiSwitch’ into the search field and hit ‘Return’ twice. That will take you to the start of the relevant script.
Select and copy the script from ‘Sub MultiSwitch()’ down to ‘End Sub’.
Still working in Word, open the ‘View’ tab and click on the ‘Macros’ icon on the ribbon:
A new window will open.
If you don’t have any macros already loaded:
If you already have macros loaded (your TEST macro or any other):
This will open up another window:
Creating your MultiSwitch list
Now head over to Word. Open a new document and call it something meaningful (mine’s called LHSwitchList).
Create your list using the following style:
Save it somewhere just as meaningful! (Mine’s in my Macros folder, but you can save it wherever it suits you.) Now close the document.
You can amend this list any time you want to – just add or delete as you see fit.
Changing the MultiSwitch script
Now you're going to make two small amendments to the macro script so that it's personalized for you, so go back to the window into which you pasted the MultiSwitch script.
At the top of the script, you’ll see the following:
Sub MultiSwitch ()
‘ Version 11.05.16
‘ Scripted word/phrase switching
maxWords = 4
listName = “LHSwitchList”
' Set min number of chars for an abbreviation
minChars = 2
myDir = “C:\Users\Louise\Dropbox\Macros\”
The text in red shows how I’ve customized the script to suit my needs – you need to put in your own switch-list file name and location.
Now you can close the window by clicking on the ‘X’ in the top right-hand corner. Do the same with the general Visual Basic window too. Don’t worry if you get a message about a debugger – just press ‘OK’.
Creating the keyboard shortcut for running MultiSwitch
If you don't know how to create keyboard shortcuts, this section's for you. If you do know how to do this, you don't need to read any further!
I'm working in Word 2016 on a PC. If you are too, the instructions are as follows:
The image below shows how I assigned a keyboard shortcut to another macro called ‘UndoHighlight’. The steps are exactly the same.
That's it! I hope this macro saves you as much time as it's saving me!
Louise Harnby is a professional proofreader and copyeditor. She curates The Proofreader's Parlour and is the author of several books on business planning and marketing for editors and proofreaders.
Visit her business website at Louise Harnby | Proofreader, say hello on Twitter at @LouiseHarnby, or connect via Facebook and LinkedIn.
Search the blog
I'm an Advanced Professional Member of the UK's national editorial society.
All text on this blog, The Proofreader's Parlour, and on the other pages of this website (unless indicated otherwise) is in copyright © 2011–17 Louise Harnby. Please do not copy or reproduce any of the content, in whole or part, in any form, unless you ask first.
Author Member of The Alliance of Independent Authors (ALLi). I abide by its Code of Standards in regard to my status as an independent writer.
Advanced Professional Member of the Society for Editors and Proofreaders (SfEP). I'm a signatory to its code of practice as a professional editor.
Featured in The Book Designer's Carnival of the Indies: Joel Friedlander's collection of 'outstanding articles recently posted to blogs'.
Winner of the Judith Butcher Award 2017 in respect of 'highly visible contributions to the SfEP and its membership'.