Find Passive Words in Your Writing

Verb, pure verb

Passive words can make your writing dull. Use this macro to find passive words so you can replace them with strong, active words. Word will highlight passive words in bright green.

Copy the macro from Sub to End Sub and paste it into Microsoft Word's Visual Basic Application (VBA). This free 20-minute macro course will show you how.

Sub PassiveWords()

' Highlights passive words

' Written by Roger Mortis, revised by Subcortical, adapted by Jami Gold and tweaked by C.K. MacLeod; words selected from Ryan Macklin's passive words list at

Dim range As range
Dim i As Long
Dim TargetList
TargetList = Array("be", "being", "been", "am", "is", "are", "was", "were", "has", "have", "had", "do", "did", "does", "can", "could", "shall", "should", "will", "would", "might", "must", "may")

For i = 0 To UBound(TargetList)

Set range = ActiveDocument.range
With range.Find
.Text = TargetList(i)
.Format = True
.MatchCase = False
.MatchWholeWord = True
.MatchWildcards = False
.MatchSoundsLike = False
.MatchAllWordForms = False
Do While .Execute(Forward:=True) = True
range.HighlightColorIndex = wdBrightGreen
End With

End Sub

Remember to use judgement with the results of any macro. This macro will highlight passive words, but only you can decide if each word is helping or hindering your writing.

Image by Rebecca Siegel

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