How to Automate your Office Forms

February 28, 2011

Standard emails, blog posts, spread sheets and letters can all be automated to save you time and maintain consistency throughout your correspondence. I use standard templates to answer incoming emails using ‘rules’; for faxes and letterheads; web pages; blog posts and monthly Excel reports.

Wikipedia Definition:

Word processing templates provide functionality for:

  1. “Fill-in-the-blank” completion of routinely-used document classes or (a stencil/master copy)
  2. Time-saving document-fragment creation (for items such as headers footers and boilerplate
  3. Time-saving GUI-configuration (for configuring the desktop GUI with precisely the desired standard look and feel, usually tailored to a given profession or industry)
  4. Time-saving user standardization (for ensuring a specific user or work-group has access to documents that are unique to his role in the organization)

Specific examples include ability to:

  1. Copy macros, styles, and auto-completion entries from one template (or document) to another;
  2. Reuse of a page header, watermark, structure, and many forms of repeated document contents;
  3. Create and remove entries (from the New > File menu) for fast access to frequently used templates;
  4. Save automation scripts in languages such as Visual Basic for Applications;
  5. Save and configure toolbars, menus, keyboard shortcuts to work across editing sessions, or on a user-by-user basis;
  6. Configure up and use work-group templates, or a default template that automatically gets applied whenever a new document is created

Where to from here?

  1. Print any forms, letters, emails you use regularly (i.e. quotes; expense reports; email confirmations; overdue account letters).
  2. Replicate these standard documents as templates. I have shown below how to record a macro using Microsoft Word. Excel, Outlook and Access also have the ability to automate using rules; macros and Visual Basic language.
  3. Getting frustrated or need a hand, call me or send me an email. I can either create your template for you or assist you with more specific instructions to your task.

Automate Word Documents using Macros

  1. Open a new or existing document in Microsoft Word.
  2. Create a macro for the series of tasks you want to automate by clicking on “Tools,” “Macro” and “Record New Macro.”
  3. Type in a macro name in the “Record Macro” dialog box. The macro name can be alphanumeric, but cannot include any spaces, special characters (such as hyphens or asterisks), or begin with a number.
  4. Choose where you’d like to store the macro by selecting the drop-down list by “Store macro in.” Pick “All Documents (Normal.dot)” to make the macro accessible to all of your Word documents. To automate the document in the current file only, choose your document’s file name from the list instead.
  5. Assign the automation for your macro to a toolbar by selecting the “Toolbars” button in the “Record Macro” dialog box. Then click on the “Commands” tab and drag the macro’s command into your toolbar.
  6. Assign the automation to your keyboard by clicking on the “Keyboard” button in the “Record Macro” dialog box. Go to the “Press new shortcut key” text box and hold down the keys (on your keyboard) you’d like to use. Click on “Assign” and press “Close.” The “Stop Recording” toolbar will open on your page.
  7. Start recording the tasks you want to automate. You can, for instance, perform a mail merge in Word to create customized envelopes from a specific address book, set the envelopes to “manual feed” for printing, print the envelopes, save your file and close it.
  8. Click on the “Stop Recording” button in the “Stop Recording” toolbar when you’re finished.
  9. Run the macro by clicking on the macro’s command in the toolbar or by using the shortcut keys you set for the macro. Alternatively, you can also run the macro by clicking on “Tools” and “Macro” (shortcut: “Alt” plus “F8”), then selecting your macro from the list and clicking on “Run.”

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