An American Editor

August 19, 2011

Macro Power: Wildcard Find & Replace

I’m a great believer in using macros for routine tasks when editing. I know that a macro cannot ponder whether a word should be capitalized or not. I understand that macros are dumb; macros can only do what they are programmed to do — nothing more, nothing less (which reminds me of Humpty Dumpty’s perspective on the meaning of words).

But macros can relieve me of the tedium of performing routine, mechanical tasks. To that end, I have spent thousands of dollars in developing macros for my editing business and in buying macros developed by others for use in my business. In earlier articles, I discussed Editorium macros (The 3 Stages of Copyediting: I — The Processing Stage), EditTools (The 3 Stages of Copyediting: II — The Copyediting Stage), and PerfectIt (The 3 Stages of Copyediting: III — The Proofing Stage). Today, I want to revisit EditTools because of a major revision that has occurred with the release of version 4: Wildcard Find & Replace.

Wildcards are the most powerful of all the search types that Microsoft Word can perform. Yet, for most editors, wildcards are difficult and dangerous. Jack Lyon, owner of The Editorium and author of many macros used by editors, wrote a great resource for learning about wildcards called “Advanced Find and Replace for Microsoft Word.” It is free and well worth taking the time to go through.

But even with Jack’s contribution to our knowledge, wildcards remain both mysterious and difficult for many editors. That’s where EditTools version 4 (which is a free upgrade for current owners of any version of EditTools) comes into play. Now everyone can make use of wildcards.

Wildcard Find & Replace is for novice, intermediate, and advanced wildcard macro users. For advanced users, it brings the capability to test a wildcard macro before using it on the whole document, as well as the capability to save wildcard macros for future use.

For novice and intermediate users, in addition to the capabilities to save and test wildcard macros, Wildcard Find & Replace can help you build both the find and the replace criteria. Users do not need to wonder whether they are writing the criterion correctly; you choose from menus what it is that you want to do, and Wildcard Find & Replace fills in the correct language.

For detailed information on how the Wildcard Find & Replace macro works, visit the Wildcard Find & Replace help page at wordsnSync. While at the wordsnSync website take a look at the other power macros included in EditTools.

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