set up your Quick Access Toolbar

I have taught Chemistry for 102 years and, for several decades of that time, when making a new resource I have clicked on a button at the top of the screen to go to a new menu, then clicked on another button then finally clicked on yet another button to get the thing I want. But now I have everything that I use a lot, such as Bookmarks, on my Quick Access Toolbar so that I go straight there.

To add an icon to the Quick Access Toolbar:

  1. Right-click on the ribbon

2. Choose Customise Ribbon

3. Choose Quick Access Toolbar

4. Use Add to put it on the Quick Access Toolbar and use the arrows to the right to change the order on the screen

create a macro and add code to it

If you have the code for somebody’s macro and want to add the macro to your own list of macros do this:

1.       Click on Developer

2.       Click Macros

3.       Select the Normal template

4.       In the Macro Name box call the macro BigAl or whatever you want to call it (make sure the name doesn’t have any spaces in it).

5.     Click on Create. This will give you a space between two lines that you put your code into.

6. Copy and paste the code and insert it between Sub and End Sub instead of the green ‘ signs.

At the start of the code will be Sub BigAl ()

At the end of the code will be End Sub

7. When you are through, close the macro window by selecting the Close and Return to Microsoft Word option from the File menu, or press Alt+Q.

replace Cambria Math (sic) font

If you use the maths equations in Insert > Equation you get font which is in Cambria Math (sic) font which can’t be changed in the usual way. Running this macro over it will change it to Arial 11. It will also change the font of any other equation in the document. If you change any of the characters in the document it will revert to Cambria Math (sic) font so run the macro over it again after you have finished.

Sub ChangeCambriaMath()
    For Each equation In ActiveDocument.OMaths
        equation.Range.Font.Name = "Arial"
    Next equation
End Sub

add nice fractions

When you type 1/2 it AutoCorrects to ½ which looks a lot nicer, but few fractions AutoCorrect and it is not possible to add more to the AutoCorrect list. You can use the Fraction button in Insert > Equation:

but it’s in Cambria Math (sic) font which has to be changed using this macro so I use a macro which turns anything with a slash into a nice fraction. If you have the macro on the Quick Access Toolbar you just need to select the fraction then click the button.

The slash is replaced with a symbol slanting at a better angle. See my macro here to find the Unicode value of any character.

The code is:

Sub MakeFraction()
‘make fraction
Dim fractionbit As Range
Dim iSlashPlace As Integer
With Selection
iSlashPlace = InStr(.Text, “/”)
Set fractionbit = ActiveDocument.Range _
(Start:=.Start, End:=.Start + iSlashPlace – 1)
fractionbit.Font.Superscript = True
fractionbit.Font.Position = -1
Selection.Font.Size = 14
Set fractionbit = ActiveDocument.Range _
(Start:=.Start + iSlashPlace, End:=.End)
fractionbit.Font.Subscript = True
fractionbit.Font.Position = 1
‘fractionbit.Font.Spacing = 1
Selection.Font.Size = 14
End With
‘replace slash
Selection.Find.Replacement.Font.Spacing = 1
With Selection.Find
.Text = “/”
.Replacement.Text = ChrW(8260)
.Forward = True
.Wrap = wdFindContinue
.Format = False
.MatchCase = False
.MatchWholeWord = False
.MatchWildcards = False
.MatchSoundsLike = False
.MatchAllWordForms = False
End With
With Selection
If .Find.Forward = True Then
.Collapse Direction:=wdCollapseStart
.Collapse Direction:=wdCollapseEnd
End If
.Find.Execute Replace:=wdReplaceOne
End With
End Sub

add a bevelled 3D rectangle

On my sheets for students I like to add my top tips in a golden-yellow shape that stands out from the paper:

Anything in the golden 3D rectangle stands out to the student, but it is also separate from the Chemistry so doesn’t distract from it.

Making a rectangle then adding the bevelling requires a lot of clicks so I used to copy the rectangle from another document. But now I have a symbol on the Quick Access Toolbar so that one click gives me the bevelled golden rectangle with some sample text inside, in Arial font 11 justified with single line spacing:

The code below will add such a rectangle to your resources:

Sub DrawRectangle()
Dim Shp As Shape, sngTop As Single, sngLeft As Single
With Selection.Characters
sngTop = .First.Information(wdVerticalPositionRelativeToPage) – 12
sngLeft = .First.Information(wdHorizontalPositionRelativeToPage)
End With
Set Shp = ActiveDocument.Shapes.AddShape(Type:=5, Left:=sngLeft, Top:=sngTop, Width:=72, Height:=36)
With Shp
.Fill.ForeColor.RGB = RGB(255, 230, 153)
.TextFrame.TextRange.Text = “some text”
.TextFrame.TextRange.Font.Size = 11
.TextFrame.TextRange.Font.Name = “Arial”
.TextFrame.TextRange.Font.Color = Black
.ThreeD.BevelTopType = msoBevelCoolSlant
With .Line
.ForeColor.RGB = RGB(255, 217, 102)
.ForeColor.TintAndShade = 0#
.Visible = msoTrue
.Weight = 2.25
.Style = msoLineSingle
End With
End Sub

write the mass number above the atomic number

I used to write the mass number as a superscript then add a text box to get the atomic number. But the text box goes walkies and isn’t very pretty. Then my colleague in the Physics Department at Southampton Exam Factory, Mrs Eda Lunar, showed me how to write a perfect symbol.

  1. Go to the Equation box above Symbol at the top right:

2. Go to ex and select the top right box:

3. Then put in your 24, 12 and Mg into the boxes. They are in italics and Cambria Math (sic) font – the italics can be changed but the only way to change the font to a sensible Arial 11 is by running a macro over it. The macro here will change it to Arial font 11.

4. Use the macro here to generate an Mg symbol with the 24 and 12 in place, all in Arial 11. It is easier to use the macro then change the symbol and the numbers to the element you want than to produce it from scratch in Equations.

use AutoCorrect to format formulae as you write

One day a few years ago I was typing Cr2O72- and was wearily about to add the subscripts and superscripts. I thought to myself, ‘Why doesn’t Word do predictive text like my phone? If I start typing Cr2 there are not many ways I am going to complete it.’ Then I had the only Original Thought I have ever had in my life. If I type ‘seperate’ it automatically corrects to ‘separate’, so maybe I can get Cr2O72- to correct automatically to Cr2O72–. AutoCorrect has a list of words which can be added to, so I added Cr2O72- to the column on the left and Cr2O72– to the column on the right. Then, thinking that typing Cr2O72- is itself very fiddly, I added CZZ to the column on the left and Cr2O72– to the column on the right. Now when I type CZZ it AutoCorrects to Cr2O72– and when I type HCZZ it AutoCorrects to H+/Cr2O72–.

Put all your formulae into the AutoCorrect table and H2SO4 will correct to H2SO4 as you type, CuH2O4 will correct to [Cu(H2O)4(OH)2] (s) and permz will correct to permanent dipole-dipole forces. Just remember what your shortcuts are.

Adding each entry individually is laborious so use the macro here to add them in bulk. To add individually:

  1. Click the File tab.
  2. At the bottom of the list choose Options. The Word Options dialog box appears:

3. Click the Proofing category on the left then AutoCorrect Options:

4. This brings up the Autocorrect list:

5. Use Formatted text to add the superscripts and subscripts.

This process is quicker if you have AutoCorrect on the Quick Access Toolbar. Right-click on the ribbon and select Customise the Ribbon:

In Choose Commands from select Commands Not in the Ribbon:

Scroll down to AutoCorrect Options then click Add then OK:

AutoCorrect is then available with just one click.

convert a pdf to a Word document

I teach OCR at A level and like to use AQA and Edexcel exam questions. I convert the exam papers to Word and then I can change AQA’s halogenoalkanes to haloalkanes and Edexcel’s ionization energy to ionisation energy.

1.Open Word in a window and have a list of pdfs in a different window:

2. Select the pdf you want and slide it into the Word window. It will convert to a Word document.

3. The formatting is often a bit of a mess so I usually copy the text and save it as text only in a new document:

4. I then run a macro or two over it to get the formatting correct, as described in my Macros section above.

write above an arrow

For years I used to write my ‘heat under reflux’ in a text box and group it with an arrow. However, if you use an arrow from Insert>Equation you will have an annotated arrow which is treated as a Word symbol.

1. Insert>Equation>Operator

2. Type into the box ‘heat under reflux / H+’. The font will be italic so change that.

3. The + sign of Hcan’t be a superscript so raise it by 1.5 points:


4. You will now have this:

The font will be Cambria Math (sic) which can be changed using this macro.