#294 How to Super Charge Word’s Find & Replace

If you’re like most people, you’ve probably used Find & Replace to locate a certain word in your document and replace it for another but that’s about it. This week I’d like to show you how you can make Find & Replace do things you probably never thought possible.  Personally, this is one of my very favorite Word tips. There are about a bazillion ways you can use this and I’d bet that everyone could benefit from these in one way or another.

You’ll find the replace button on the far end of the Home ribbon or you can use the keyboard shortcut  [CTRL] + H to access it from anywhere.

Basics You Probably Didn’t Know

Finding & highlighting text

Sometimes you just need to scan a document for every occurrence of a word or phrase and highlight them on the screen.

  1. Press [CTRL] + H
  2. In the Find what box, type the text that you want to search for.
  3. Click Reading Highlight, and then click Highlight All.

 Note   To turn off highlighting on the screen, click Reading Highlight, and then click Clear Highlighting.

Search by using wildcards to find specific letters

Most people don’t know that you can use wildcards to search for text. For example, you can use the asterisk (*) wildcard to search for a string of characters (for example, “s*d” finds “sad” and “started”).

  1. Press [CTRL] + H
  2. Select the Use wildcards check box.
    If you don’t see the Use wildcards check box, click More.Do one of the following:
  3. To choose a wildcard character from a list, click Special, click a wildcard character, and then type any additional text in the Find whatbox.For more information, see the table Wildcards for items you want to find and replace.
  4. Type a wildcard character directly in the Find what box.
  5. If you want to replace the item, click the Replace tab, and then type what you want to use as a replacement in the Replace with box.
  6. Click Find Next, Find All, Replace, or Replace All.

“Fixing” Your Document

Find and replace can save you a LOT of time when you are trying to clean up a document you’ve inherited from someone too. You know…those people who put in 127 spaces instead of using the center align button? 😎

Replacing page breaks, paragraph breaks and other special document items

  1. Press [CTRL] + H
  2. If you don’t see the Special button, click More.
  3. Click Special, and then click the item that you want.
  4. If you want to replace the item, click the Replace tab, and then type what you want to use as a replacement in the Replace with box.
  5. Click Find Next, Find All, Replace, or Replace All.

Replacing Specific Formatting

You can search for and replace or remove character formatting. For example, you can search for a specific word or phrase and change the font color, or you can search for specific formatting, such as bold, and change it.

  1. Press [CTRL] + H
  2. If you don’t see the Format button, click More.
  3. To search for text with specific formatting, type the text in the Find what box. To find formatting only, leave the box blank.
  4. Click Format, and then select the formats that you want to find and replace.
  5. Click the Replace with box, click Format, and then select the replacement formats.

 Note   If you also want to replace the text, type the replacement text in the Replace with box.

Replace multiple spaces with a tab.

One of the biggest mistakes novice Word users make is to enter multiple spaces instead of using a tab to position text on the page — and those spaces can wreck a document! Fortunately, you can replace them with a tab mark by using the {} code, as follows:

  1. Press [Ctrl]+H.
  2. In the Find What control, enter a single space, followed by {2,}.
  3. In the Replace With control, enter ^t, which represents a single tab mark.
  4. Click the More button and check the Use Wildcards option, as shown in Figure A.
  5. Click Replace All.

The {2,} code tells Word to find two or more literal characters; the space character you entered is the literal character.

Figure A

Read more about these and others at 10 cool ways to get more from Word’s Find and Replace feature | TechRepublic and get a full-blown list of codes that will work with Find & Replace and really power up your Find & Replace skills.

Leave a comment and let me know if you find anything you can use! Or ask about something you’d like to do but can’t find.

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