by Kendall Callas
Getting to know the ropes in WordPerfect? Tired of repeating keystrokes to perform typing tasks or frequently used commands? Feel confident? Then it's time for you to graduate -- to macros!
Ah! There's that word again. You've heard it before. In fact, you see it often. But you're just not sure how to do it, or why.
Remember the old days of TV -- before channel surfing? When changing channels meant getting up off the coach, walking to the set, and turning a dial? Now, we enjoy the wonderful modern invention of the remote control. Loosely speaking, a macro is like remote control for WordPerfect. (But, of course, you do have to be at the keyboard to start macros.) Having learned basic WordPerfect skills, now you can add convenience by automating tasks through macros.
So what is a macro? I like to think of a macro as a package of keystrokes. You record the keystrokes -- and the task they perform -- into a package using a feature much like a tape recorder. Then, you can play it back any time you need to repeat that task.
You get to create your own macros to perform your own very specific tasks. (WordPerfect does come with a few predefined macros; look in the WordPerfect manual Appendix titled "WordPerfect Files" or "Program Files" for the list of Macro Files.)
Many simple macros are tremendous timesavers. Common examples include macros to type a phrase or paragraph, begin a letter or memo, format an envelope, save the file, or print the current page.
Macros offer three powerful benefits: simplification, speed, and standardization.
A macro is a one button solution; press a button and -- blam! -- the task that was recorded into the macro is performed in the blink of an eye. You don't need to remember the steps -- and others who use the macro don't even need to know what the steps are or how to do them. All the commands a macro uses and the functions it performs are conveniently and invisibly packaged up into the macro. Life is so much simpler, for example, when you can press a button and out comes a properly addressed envelope from your printer.
Besides reducing the knowledge requirement, macros also simplify the raw amount of keyboard pounding. As repetitive stress injuries such as carpal tunnel syndrome become a more visible and costly problem, macros offer an ever more important tool for reducing keystrokes.
The second benefit macros deliver is a gift of time. Macros are fast -- many times faster than you can type.
Thirdly, despite Ralph Waldo Emerson's warning that "A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds," macros provide standardization -- always good in word processing. You can rely on a macro to produce the same result each time, every time.
Before we begin, we need to cover the two ways to name a macro. A macro can have a word name, like LETTER, SIG, or FRED (up to 8 characters). These macros are started with the Macro key, Alt+F10.
A macro can also be named as an ALT key + letter key combination, such as Alt+L, Alt+S, Alt+F, etc. These macros are faster to start; you simply hold down the Alt key and press the letter. (In WordPerfect for Windows, Ctrl+Shift replaces Alt.)
Enough talk, now try it. We'll focus on WordPerfect for DOS versions 5.1 and 6.0, but the concepts, and most of the keystrokes, are the same for any version of WordPerfect for DOS, Windows, or UNIX.
Here are the steps for you to create two simple, useful macros. The first prints the current page, the second begins a letter.
Example #1 - Alt+P, print current page. This macro prints the page that the cursor is on.
Begin with Ctrl+F10 -- hold down the "Ctrl" key and press F10. In WP/DOS 5.1, this key is called Macro Define; in WP/DOS 6.0, it's called Record Macro. (Using the menus, you'll find this under Tools, Macro.) Now you'll see a prompt asking you to name the macro.
The next step will vary just a bit depending on which version of WordPerfect you are using. In WP/DOS 5.1, you'll see the words "Define macro:" appear at the bottom left of your screen. (In WP/DOS 6.0 a dialog box titled "Record Macro" comes up.)
Now, name the macro. We'll name the macro for quick use -- Alt + letter -- so, hold down the Alt key and press the letter "P". (In WP/DOS 6.0, you'll now also need to press Enter.) Remember the name -- P stands for page. It's not easy to get a list of your macros, so start a list on paper.
WP/DOS 5.1 has an extra step here. It allows you to enter a Description of the macro, a feature that was dropped from version 6.0. At the "Description:" prompt, type a few words of comment (any format), then press Enter. The description is not important, it is used only when viewing a file at the List Files screen with the Look feature.
You have now turned on the macro recorder -- after a moment you'll see the words "Macro Def" appear at the bottom left of your screen ("Record Macro" in WP/DOS 6.0). The general procedure now is to press the keystrokes to perform your task (but don't try to use your mouse except for the menus), then use Ctrl+F10 once again to turn off the macro recorder.
For our print page macro, bring up the Print menu by pressing the Print key, Shift+F7. (If you prefer to use the menus, select File, Print.) Press the letter "P" to select the page. (In WP/DOS 6.0, you'll now also need to press Enter to print.)
Voila! We are done, so press Ctrl+F10 to turn off the macro recorder. Now you have created a permanent tool; any time you wish to print a page from the document editing screen, point your cursor to the page you want and press Alt+P. (If you try to record another macro with the same name, WordPerfect will warn you -- and give you an opportunity to edit the macro.)
Example #2 - LETTER, begin letter. This macro starts a letter "sandwich"; that is, it prepares the top and bottom of the letter format, finishing in the middle to leave you to type the meat of your letter. Of course, details will vary according to your letterhead and the format you prefer.
From a blank screen, start the macro recorder by pressing Ctrl+F10. To name the macro, type LETTER, then press Enter. (WP/DOS 5.1 users may enter a brief description, like "letter format", or press Enter to skip it.)
If you need blank lines at the top to allow space for pre-printed letterhead, press the Enter key as many times as needed. For a centered date, begin with the Center key, Shift+F6. Use the Date feature to type in the current date, Shift+F5, then "T" for text. Press Enter two or three times. That completes the top portion of our letter format. (Of course, you may wish to add to it -- perhaps a Margin setting or Center Page code at the beginning.)
Now begin the signature block to end the letter. Type "Sincerely," (or do you prefer "Yours very truly,") at the left margin -- or add formatting with Tabs or perhaps the Center feature. Press Enter to end the line, then three or four more times to add space for your signature. Now under "Sincerely," (again at the left margin, or tabbed in, or centered) type your name/title/company. You may want to add "cc: " if you routinely send copies.
To finish up, press Home Home Up Arrow to move to the top of the document, arrow down to the date, then down two or three more times to the point where you wish to type in the rest of the letter (address, "Dear ...", and the body).
Finis! Now end the macro with Ctrl+F10 and you've added another fine tool to your collection of macros. Any time you wish to use this macro, begin with a blank screen and press Alt+F10, the Macro key. Type the name of the macro -- LETTER -- and press Enter.
Once you're comfortable making macros to automate your routine tasks, you'll love them as much as your TV remote control.