Ah, Macros, one of my favorite little tricks to use in word processing and in Excel. Macros are little bits of computer code in an office program that do something. They're usually used to automate some kind of process that is usually repetitive such as preparing a document in manuscript format or making an editor's life easier.
There are two main levels of Macro implementation. The first, is that of the purist, the techno-nerd who states that it must be hard coded line by line, which is a tedious process involving learning a completely different language.
For the everyday user there is the blessed record function (found in the Developer tab of recent Word versions and the Tools menu of older versions), which allows a user to click a button, go through a sequence of actions, hit the stop button, and magically create a script which will do those exact series of actions on command. Macros can be put on toolbars as buttons or assigned as hotkeys for convenient use.
Now, you will likely have heard of Macro viruses, and how macros lead to insecurity of your office programs. This is true. there are macro viruses out there, and they can be nasty such as the one that infected some of my college essays because a group partner failed to properly scan his computer. Most of the time, though, macros are perfectly safe, especially if you record them yourself. However, there are many great websites out there devoted to putting out safe macros, and they post the actual code of the macro for people to copy, which is safer than downloading.
In future posts I will post up some of my own greatest hits when it comes to Macros, both for my beloved WordPerfect, and for the more mainstream Word users. Those who use something else, I'm sure there are resources out there, or you can record your own; however, you can still get ideas of what to use macros for in your own writing.
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