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.

 

Community Search:
MacTech Search:

Software Updates via MacUpdate

Herald 5.0.2 - Notification plugin for M...
Note: Versions 2.1.3 (for OS X 10.7), 3.0.6 (for OS X 10.8), and 4.0.8 (for OS X 10.9) are no longer supported by the developer. Herald is a notification plugin for Mail.app, Apple's Mac OS X email... Read more
DEVONthink Pro 2.8.3 - Knowledge base, i...
Save 10% with our exclusive coupon code: MACUPDATE10 DEVONthink Pro is your essential assistant for today's world, where almost everything is digital. From shopping receipts to important research... Read more
Boom 2 1.0.1 - System-wide pro audio app...
Boom 2 is a system-wide volume booster and equalizer app that is designed especially for OS X 10.10 Yosemite. It comes with a smart interface, self-calibrates itself according to your Mac, offers... Read more
Apple Security Update 2015-001 - For OS...
Apple Security Update 2015-001 is recommended for all users and improves the security of OS X. For detailed information about the security content of this update, please visit: http://support.apple.... Read more
Drive Genius 4.0.1 - Powerful system uti...
Drive Genius 4 gives you faster performance from your Mac while also protecting it. The award-winning and improved DrivePulse feature alerts you to hard drive issues before they become major problems... Read more
Yosemite Cache Cleaner 9.0.3 - Clear cac...
Yosemite Cache Cleaner is an award-winning general purpose tool for OS X. YCC makes system maintenance simple with an easy point-and-click interface to many OS X functions. Novice and expert users... Read more
xScope 4.1.1 - Onscreen graphic measurem...
xScope is powerful set of tools that are ideal for measuring, inspecting, and testing on-screen graphics and layouts. Its tools float above your desktop windows and can be accessed via a toolbar,... Read more
OS X Yosemite 10.10.2 - Apple's lat...
OS X Yosemite is Apple's newest operating system for Mac. An elegant design that feels entirely fresh, yet inherently familiar. The apps you use every day, enhanced with new features. And a... Read more
Apple iOS 8.1.3 - The latest version of...
The latest version of iOS can be downloaded through iTunes. Apple iOS 8 comes with big updates to apps you use every day, like Messages and Photos. A whole new way to share content with your family.... Read more
SpamSieve 2.9.19 - Robust spam filter fo...
SpamSieve is a robust spam filter for major email clients that uses powerful Bayesian spam filtering. SpamSieve understands what your spam looks like in order to block it all, but also learns what... Read more

Storm & Skye – Magical Adventure Sto...
Storm & Skye – Magical Adventure Story For Kids Review By Amy Solomon on January 28th, 2015 Our Rating: iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad The first book in the Storm & Skye series includes... | Read more »
New WOTA: U-Boat Compass ‘Wets’ Your App...
New WOTA: U-Boat Compass ‘Wets’ Your Appetite for WOTA: Wolves of the Atlantic. Posted by Jessica Fisher on January 27th, 2015 [ permalink ] Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad | Read more »
Warship Solitaire Review
Warship Solitaire Review By Nadia Oxford on January 27th, 2015 Our Rating: :: A WAR OF NUMBERSUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Warship Solitaire might lack frills and looks, but it offers some thought provoking... | Read more »
Keep Track of Your Hectic Work Schedule...
Keep Track of Your Hectic Work Schedule With Shifts Posted by Jessica Fisher on January 27th, 2015 [ permalink ] iPhone App - Designed for the iPhone, compatible with the iPad | Read more »
All Star Quarterback Review
All Star Quarterback Review By Campbell Bird on January 27th, 2015 Our Rating: :: PLAY YOUR PARTUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Train your way to the Super Bowl in this free-to-play sports management game.   | Read more »
Sentinel 4: Dark Star Adds New Campaign...
Sentinel 4: Dark Star Adds New Campaign and More Posted by Ellis Spice on January 27th, 2015 [ permalink ] Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad | Read more »
Wheel & Deal Review
Wheel & Deal Review By Tre Lawrence on January 27th, 2015 Our Rating: :: SIMPLE FUNUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad A simple arcade shooter that has a retro feel.   | Read more »
Join the NAVY in a Big New Update for WW...
Join the NAVY in a Big New Update for WW2: Sandbox. Strategy & Tactics Posted by Jessica Fisher on January 27th, 2015 [ permalink ] Universal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad | Read more »
Earthworm Alchemy Review
Earthworm Alchemy Review By Campbell Bird on January 27th, 2015 Our Rating: :: FEED THE WORMUniversal App - Designed for iPhone and iPad Feed this funny looking worm and dodge bombs in this charming, free-to-play arcade game.   | Read more »
Graphic Novel App netwars – The Butterfl...
Graphic Novel App netwars – The Butterfly Attack has Received Some New Episodes Posted by Jessica Fisher on January 27th, 2015 [ permalink ] | Read more »

Price Scanner via MacPrices.net

New Good Management Suite Simplifies Enterpri...
Good Technology has announced the availability of the Good Management Suite, a comprehensive cross-platform solution for organizations getting started with mobile business initiatives. Built on the... Read more
15-inch 2.0GHz Retina MacBook Pro (refurbishe...
The Apple Store has Apple Certified Refurbished previous-generation 15″ 2.0GHz Retina MacBook Pros available for $1489 including free shipping plus Apple’s standard one-year warranty. Their price is... Read more
15-inch 2.5GHz Retina MacBook Pro on sale for...
Amazon has the 15″ 2.5GHz Retina MacBook Pro on sale for $2319.99 including free shipping. Their price is $180 off MSRP, and it’s the lowest price available for this model from any reseller. Read more
iPad Turns Five – The ”Book Mystique
Five years ago this week, the late Steve Jobs took the stage at an Apple special press event to unveil the first Apple iPad — a slab-shaped, hand-holdable device that was to shake the personal... Read more
Sale! 15-inch Retina MacBook Pros for up to $...
B&H Photo has the new 2014 15″ Retina MacBook Pros on sale for $150 off MSRP for a limited time. Shipping is free, and B&H charges NY sales tax only: - 15″ 2.2GHz Retina MacBook Pro: $1889.99... Read more
Apple refurbished Mac minis for up to $150 of...
The Apple Store has restocked Apple Certified Refurbished 2014 Mac minis, with models available starting at $419. Apple’s one-year warranty is included with each mini, and shipping is free: - 1.4GHz... Read more
Apple Releases New Tranche Of OS Updates For...
Apple has released incremental bugfix and security updates for its most recent Mac and iOS versions. OS X Yosemite 10.10.2 Update Apple says this update includes the following improvements: Resolves... Read more
Samsung To Be Main Supplier Of A9 Chips For i...
Korea’s Maeil Business Newspaper reports that Samsung has beat out its chipmaking rivals, Taiwan’s Qualcomm and TSMC, as supplier of chipsets for the next generations of both its own Galaxy S6 and... Read more
Save up to $340 on iMacs with Apple Certified...
The Apple Store has Apple Certified Refurbished iMacs available for up to $340 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
AppleCare Protection Plans on sale for up to...
B&H Photo has 3-Year AppleCare Warranties on sale for up to $105 off MSRP including free shipping plus NY sales tax only: - Mac Laptops 15″ and Above: $244 $105 off MSRP - Mac Laptops 13″ and... Read more

Jobs Board

*Apple* Systems Engineer - Pre Sales, Educat...
…is responsible for proactively providing technical expertise to drive sales of Apple solutions into assigned accounts. The SE architects, validates, and assists in Read more
*Apple* Solutions Consultant - Retail Sales...
As an ambassador of the Apple brand, the ASC is accountable for driving sales performance by: Connecting with customers. Discovering customers' needs and values. Showing Read more
*Apple* Solutions Consultant - Retail Sales...
As an ambassador of the Apple brand, the ASC is accountable for driving sales performance by: Connecting with customers. Discovering customers' needs and values. Showing Read more
*Apple* Tree Children's Center is hirin...
Apple Tree Learning Center is Hiring Preschool Teachers! Phoenix Childrens Academy is a national leader in the early childhood education industry and we are currently Read more
*Apple* Solutions Consultant - Retail Sales...
**Job Summary** As an Apple Solutions Consultant (ASC) you are the link between our customers and our products. Your role is to drive the Apple business in a retail Read more
All contents are Copyright 1984-2011 by Xplain Corporation. All rights reserved. Theme designed by Icreon.