TweetFollow Us on Twitter

Introduction to Scripting Microsoft Word

Volume Number: 23 (2007)
Issue Number: 01
Column Tag: Applescript Essentials

Introduction to Scripting Microsoft Word

by Benjamin S. Waldie

Lately, there has been a lot of talk in the Macintosh community about Microsoft, and the forthcoming Office 12. One of Microsoft's big announcements is that they will be doing away with support for creating and running Visual Basic macros in the next version of Office. This leaves many people wondering how they will go about automating their Office applications. AppleScript to the rescue. I'm pleased to say that Entourage, Excel, PowerPoint, and Word are all AppleScriptable.

Office has supported AppleScript for some time now, and with the release of Office 11 in 2004, Microsoft actually completely re-implemented much of their AppleScript support, and also added AppleScript support for PowerPoint. Due to these changes, much of the AppleScript terminology in Word and Excel changed from previous versions. If you are currently using Office AppleScripts with a pre-2004 version of Office, then please be aware that you will probably need to make some modifications to your scripts when you decide to upgrade your Office suite. Of course, this should go without saying when upgrading any scriptable application. Any time any application is updated, AppleScript terminology changes may be introduced. This is why it is always a good idea to test your existing scripts with any new application version before implementing it into your live workflow.

This month, we're going to take a look at scripting Microsoft Word. We'll walk through some basic techniques for interacting with Word documents, and the content within those documents. Please note that all code in this month's column was written for and tested with Office 11 (2004). Therefore, if you're using a different version of Office, please be aware that the terminology you need to use may differ from that which I have used.

Working with Documents

Making a Document

Making a new Word document is relatively straightforward. To make a new Word document, simply use the make command, as demonstrated here.

tell application "Microsoft Word"
   make new document
end tell
--> document "Document1" of application "Microsoft Word"

Notice that the result of the make command is a reference to the newly created document. This reference may be placed into a variable, if desired, for future reference in your script.

Closing a Document

Closing a Word document is also pretty straightforward. To close a Word document, use the close command. Optionally, you may specify a constant value (yes, no, or ask) for the close command's saving parameter, to indicate whether the document being closed should be saved. The following example code will close a document without saving it.

tell application "Microsoft Word"
   close document 1 saving no
end tell

Opening a Document

To open a Word document, use the open command, followed by a reference to the document file you wish to open. The following example code will prompt the user to select a Word document file. It will then open that file.

set theDocFile to choose file with prompt "Please select a Word document file:"
tell application "Microsoft Word"
   open theDocFile
end tell

Please note that, in the example above, no result is returned by the open command. Since you will typically want your script to perform additional tasks on the newly opened document, you will need a way of referencing the document. There are a number of ways that this can be done. Assuming you know the name of the document, one way to do this is to retrieve a reference to the document using its name. For example:

set theDocFile to choose file with prompt "Please select a Word document file:"
set theDocName to name of (info for theDocFile)
tell application "Microsoft Word"
   open theDocFile
   set theDocument to document theDocName
end tell
--> document "My Document.doc" of application "Microsoft Word"

If you're sure that the target document will be in the front, then another way you can reference it is by referencing the active document application property. For example:

set theDocFile to choose file with prompt "Please select a Word document file:"
tell application "Microsoft Word"
   open theDocFile
   set theDocument to active document
end tell
--> active document of application "Microsoft Word"

Take note that the result of the code above is a reference to the active document. This may work fine in most cases. However, be aware that, since it is not referencing a specific document, if another document is brought to the front, then the incorrect document may be targeted.

It's also important to note is that, in Word, documents have an index number. However, this number does not indicate the front to back position of the document, as it often does in many other applications. Instead, it indicates the document's position, in the order that the documents were opened. In other words, if a document in the back was the last document to be opened, then the front document will not be document 1. For this reason, when you want to target the front document in Word, it's always good practice to reference the active document.

We have discussed a couple of ways to retrieve a reference to a newly opened document. There are others, some of which are more robust, and I would encourage you to see if you can come up with some ways of doing this on your own.

Saving a Document

Saving a previously saved document into its original location is as simple as using the save command, as demonstrated here.

tell application "Microsoft Word"
   save active document
end tell

However, suppose you want to save a document into a specific location, or in a different format? This is done using Word's save as command. This command has several optional parameters, which will allow you to specify the output location, format, and more. To save a document into a specific location, make use of the file name parameter, as follows:

set theOutputPath to (path to desktop folder as string) & "My Saved Doc.doc"
tell application "Microsoft Word"
   save as active document file name theOutputPath
end tell

To specify a format for the saved document, use the file format parameter. For example, the following code will save a document in RTF format:

set theOutputPath to (path to desktop folder as string) & "My Saved Doc.rtf"
tell application "Microsoft Word"
   save as active document file name theOutputPath file format format rtf
end tell

There are numerous other formats in which you can save a Word document, including Word template, HTML, web archive, and more. A complete list of supported formats can be found in Word's AppleScript dictionary, under the save as command.

Working with Document Text

Working with Text Ranges

In a Word document, text is typically referenced using text ranges. A text range is a class of object that refers to a specific area of text, such as a single character, word, or paragraph, or all of the text within the document. Each text range has a starting and ending position. For example, a text range might represent character 1 through character 5 of the document. The position 0 represents the absolute beginning of a document, just before the first character, so if you wanted to reference the first 5 characters of a document, the text range would actually begin at position 0, and end at position 5.

To reference text within a Word document, you must first create a text range. This is done by using the create range command. This command simply creates a reference for you, to the specified text content. Here's an example:

tell application "Microsoft Word"
   tell active document
      set theRange to create range start 0 end 5
   end tell
end tell
--> text range id «data iWrg0000000000000005» ¬
of active document of application "Microsoft Word"

The result of the code above is a reference to a range of text within my document, in this case, characters 1 through 5. I can now access attributes of this text by referencing the range. For example, the following code will get the text content within the range:

tell application "Microsoft Word"
   tell active document
      set theRange to create range start 0 end 5
      content of theRange
   end tell
end tell
--> "APPLE"

Getting the Entire Content of a Document

In Word, the document class possesses a text object property. This property references a text range representing the entire content of the document. For example:

tell application "Microsoft Word"
   tell active document
      content of text object
   end tell
end tell
--> "APPLESCRIPT ESSENTIALS
      Introduction to Scripting Microsoft Word
      Copyright 2007 by Ben Waldie...

Adding Text to a Document

To replace text in a Word document, create a text range representing the text to be replaced. Then set the content property of that range to the desired text. For example:

tell application "Microsoft Word"
   tell active document
      set theRange to create range start 0 end 5
      set content of theRange to "TEST"
   end tell
end tell

Another way that text can be added to a document is by inserting it. This is done by using the insert command. This command has a required parameter, text, which indicates the text to be inserted. It also has an optional parameter, at, which can be used to indicate the location before which the text should be inserted. For example, the following code will insert the text TEST at the beginning of the active document.

tell application "Microsoft Word"
   tell active document
      set theRange to create range start 0 end 0
      insert text "TEST" at theRange
   end tell
end tell

This same task could also have been accomplished by setting the content property of a range representing the beginning of the document to the specified text. For example:

tell application "Microsoft Word"
   tell active document
      set theRange to create range start 0 end 0
      set content of theRange to "TEST"
   end tell
end tell

Working with Other Content

It's also possible to add other types of elements besides text into Word documents via scripting. For example, you might want to insert a hyperlink, or an image.

Adding a Hyperlink to a Document

To add a hyperlink to a document, use the make command to create a hyperlink object. In doing so, you may specify property values for the hyperlink, including the text to be displayed the link URL, and the text range representing the location where the hyperlink should be created. For example, the following code will create a hyperlink to my company's website at the beginning of the active document.

tell application "Microsoft Word"
   tell active document
      set theRange to create range start 0 end 0
      make new hyperlink object at end with properties ¬
{text to display:"Automated Workflows, LLC", hyperlink ¬
address:"http://www.automatedworkflows.com", ¬
text object:theRange} end tell end tell --> hyperlink object "http://www.automatedworkflows.com" ¬
of active document of application "Microsoft Word"

Adding a Picture to a Document

Adding an inline picture to a document is similar to adding a hyperlink. Again, use the make command, but this time create an inline picture, rather than a hyperlink object. When using this command, you may specify property values for the picture, including the file name property, which should include the path of the picture file to be inserted (as a string). For example, the following code will create a new inline picture at the beginning of the active document.

set thePicturePath to choose file with prompt "Please select a picture to insert:"
tell application "Microsoft Word"
   tell active document
      set theRange to create range start 0 end 0
      make new inline picture at theRange with properties ¬ 
{file name:thePicturePath as string} end tell end tell --> inline picture 1 of text range id ¬
«data iWrg0000000000000000» of document "Document1" ¬
of application "Microsoft Word"

In Closing

Now that we have discussed some basic interaction with Word, where do you go from here? We have really only scratched the surface, and there's a lot more that can be done. Take some time to explore modifying attributes of text, such as the font, point size, and color. Explore modifying document properties, adjusting header and footer content, inserting a table of contents, and much more. Take some time to explore Word's AppleScript dictionary. You will find that it contains quite a lot of terminology, so it may actually take some time to become familiar and comfortable with it.

For additional help getting started with Word, be sure to review the Microsoft Word 2004 AppleScript Reference documentation. This documentation can be obtained in the Resources > Development Center > AppleScript Resources for Office 2004 section of Microsoft's Mactopia website at http://www.microsoft.com/mac/. You may also want to explore MacScripter.net's ScriptBuilders, at http://scriptbuilders.net/, where you will find some AppleScripts for Microsoft Word, some of which may even be editable!

Until next time, keep scripting!


Ben Waldie is the author of the best selling books "AppleScripting the Finder" and the "Mac OS X Technology Guide to Automator", available from http://www.spiderworks.com, as well as an AppleScript Training CD, available from http://www.vtc.com. Ben is also president of Automated Workflows, LLC, a company specializing in AppleScript and workflow automation consulting. For years, Ben has developed professional AppleScript-based solutions for businesses including Adobe, Apple, NASA, PC World, and TV Guide. For more information about Ben, please visit http://www.automatedworkflows.com, or email Ben at ben@automatedworkflows.com.

 
AAPL
$102.50
Apple Inc.
+0.25
MSFT
$45.43
Microsoft Corpora
+0.55
GOOG
$571.60
Google Inc.
+2.40

MacTech Search:
Community Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

Path Finder 6.5.5 - Powerful, award-winn...
Path Finder is a file browser that combines the familiar Finder interface with the powerful utilities and innovative features. Just a small selection of the Path Finder 6 feature set: Dual pane... Read more
QuarkXPress 10.2.1 - Desktop publishing...
With QuarkXPress, you can communicate in all the ways you need to -- and always look professional -- in print and digital media, all in a single tool. Features include: Easy to Use -- QuarkXPress is... Read more
Skype 6.19.0.450 - Voice-over-internet p...
Skype allows you to talk to friends, family and co-workers across the Internet without the inconvenience of long distance telephone charges. Using peer-to-peer data transmission technology, Skype... Read more
VueScan 9.4.41 - Scanner software with a...
VueScan is a scanning program that works with most high-quality flatbed and film scanners to produce scans that have excellent color fidelity and color balance. VueScan is easy to use, and has... Read more
Cloud 3.0.0 - File sharing from your men...
Cloud is simple file sharing for the Mac. Drag a file from your Mac to the CloudApp icon in the menubar and we take care of the rest. A link to the file will automatically be copied to your clipboard... Read more
LibreOffice 4.3.1.2 - Free Open Source o...
LibreOffice is an office suite (word processor, spreadsheet, presentations, drawing tool) compatible with other major office suites. The Document Foundation is coordinating development and... Read more
SlingPlayer Plugin 3.3.20.505 - Browser...
SlingPlayer is the screen interface software that works hand-in-hand with the hardware inside the Slingbox to make your TV viewing experience just like that at home. It features an array of... Read more
Get Lyrical 3.8 - Auto-magically adds ly...
Get Lyrical auto-magically add lyrics to songs in iTunes. You can choose either a selection of tracks, or the current track. Or turn on "Active Tagging" to get lyrics for songs as you play them.... Read more
Viber 4.2.2 - Send messages and make cal...
Viber lets you send free messages and make free calls to other Viber users, on any device and network, in any country! Viber syncs your contacts, messages and call history with your mobile device,... Read more
Cocktail 7.6 - General maintenance and o...
Cocktail is a general purpose utility for OS X that lets you clean, repair and optimize your Mac. It is a powerful digital toolset that helps hundreds of thousands of Mac users around the world get... Read more

Latest Forum Discussions

See All

Rhonna Designs Magic (Photography)
Rhonna Designs Magic 1.0 Device: iOS Universal Category: Photography Price: $1.99, Version: 1.0 (iTunes) Description: Want to sprinkle *magic* on your photos? With RD Magic, you can add colors, filters, light leaks, bokeh, edges,... | Read more »
This Week at 148Apps: August 25-29, 2014
Shiny Happy App Reviews   | Read more »
Qube Kingdom – Tips, Tricks, Strategies,...
Qube Kingdom is a tower defense game from DeNA. You rally your troops – magicians, archers, knights, barbarians, and others – and fight against an evil menace looking to dominate your kingdom of tiny squares. Planning a war isn’t easy, so here are a... | Read more »
Qube Kingdom Review
Qube Kingdom Review By Nadia Oxford on August 29th, 2014 Our Rating: :: KIND OF A SQUARE KINGDOMUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Qube Kingdom has cute visuals, but it’s a pretty basic tower defense game at heart.   | Read more »
Fire in the Hole Review
Fire in the Hole Review By Rob Thomas on August 29th, 2014 Our Rating: :: WALK THE PLANKUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Seafoam’s Fire in the Hole looks like a bright, 8-bit throwback, but there’s not enough booty to... | Read more »
Alien Creeps TD is Now Available Worldwi...
Alien Creeps TD is Now Available Worldwide Posted by Ellis Spice on August 29th, 2014 [ permalink ] Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad | Read more »
Dodo Master Review
Dodo Master Review By Jordan Minor on August 29th, 2014 Our Rating: :: NEST EGGiPad Only App - Designed for the iPad Dodo Master is tough but fair, and that’s what makes it a joy to play.   | Read more »
Motorsport Manager Review
Motorsport Manager Review By Lee Hamlet on August 29th, 2014 Our Rating: :: MARVELOUS MANAGEMENTUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Despite its depth and sense of tactical freedom, Motorsport Manager is one of the most... | Read more »
Motorsport Manager – Beginner Tips, Tric...
The world of Motorsport management can be an unforgiving and merciless one, so to help with some of the stress that comes with running a successful race team, here are a few hints and tips to leave your opponents in the dust. | Read more »
CalPal Update Brings the App to 2.0, Add...
CalPal Update Brings the App to 2.0, Adds Lots of New Stuff Posted by Ellis Spice on August 29th, 2014 [ permalink ] | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

Apple now offering refurbished 21-inch 1.4GHz...
The Apple Store is now offering Apple Certified Refurbished 21″ 1.4GHz iMacs for $929 including free shipping plus Apple’s standard one-year warranty. Their price is $170 off the cost of new models,... Read more
Save $50 on the 2.5GHz Mac mini, on sale for...
B&H Photo has the 2.5GHz Mac mini on sale for $549.99 including free shipping. That’s $50 off MSRP, and B&H will also include a free copy of Parallels Desktop software. NY sales tax only. Read more
Save up to $300 on an iMac with Apple refurbi...
The Apple Store has Apple Certified Refurbished iMacs available for up to $300 off the cost of new models. Apple’s one-year warranty is standard, and shipping is free. These are the best prices on... Read more
The Rise of Phablets
Carlisle & Gallagher Consulting Group, a businesses and technology consulting firm focused solely on the financial services industry, has released an infographic depicting the convergence of... Read more
Bad Driver Database App Allows Good Drivers t...
Bad Driver Database 1.4 by Facile Group is a new iOS and Android app that lets users instantly input and see how many times a careless, reckless or just plain stupid driver has been added to the... Read more
Eddy – Cloud Music Player for iPhone/iPad Fre...
Ukraine based CapableBits announces the release of Eddy, its tiny, but smart and powerful cloud music player for iPhone and iPad that allows users to stream or download music directly from cloud... Read more
A&D Medical Launches Its WellnessConnecte...
For consumers and the healthcare providers and loved ones who care for them, A&D Medical, a leader in connected health and biometric measurement devices and services, has launched its... Read more
Anand Lal Shimpi Retires From AnandTech
Anand Lal Shimpi, whose AnandTech Website is famous for its meticulously detailed and thoroughgoing reviews and analysis, is packing it in. Lal Shimpi, who founded the tech site at age 14 in 1997,... Read more
2.5GHz Mac mini, Apple refurbished, in stock...
The Apple Store has Apple Certified Refurbished 2.5GHz Mac minis available for $509, $90 off MSRP. Apple’s one-year warranty is included, and shipping is free. Read more
13-inch 2.5GHz MacBook Pro on sale for $999,...
B&H Photo has the 13″ 2.5GHz MacBook Pro on sale for $999.99 including free shipping plus NY sales tax only. Their price is $100 off MSRP. Read more

Jobs Board

*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions (US) - A...
Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, you're also the Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions (US) - A...
Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, you're also the Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions (US) - A...
Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, you're also the Read more
*Apple* Retail - Multiple Positions (US) - A...
Sales Specialist - Retail Customer Service and Sales Transform Apple Store visitors into loyal Apple customers. When customers enter the store, you're also the Read more
Senior Event Manager, *Apple* Retail Market...
…This senior level position is responsible for leading and imagining the Apple Retail Team's global event strategy. Delivering an overarching brand story; in-store, Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.