If you need to replace text in your Microsoft Word document, you don’t have to do it by hand. Using the function Search for and replace, you can locate and change the text you want without manual work.
The nice thing about this feature is that you can make it as detailed as you need. For example, you can match the exact letter of the word or phrase and ignore punctuation, such as apostrophes or hyphens. You can also have the tool replace all instances of the matching text or just specific ones.
Here we explain how to use Find and Replace in Word to save time when updating the text of your document.
How to open Find and Replace in Microsoft Word
With your document open in Word, go to the tab Beginning. On the right side of the ribbon, click Replace. You can also open the tool using Search> Advanced Search and selecting the tab Replace.
Using a simple Find and Replace
If you want to do a quick search and replace, the window is ready to go. Enter what you want to find and then what you want to replace it with. Click on Find next to see each instance highlighted in your document, and then click Replace to get just the results you want.
To replace all instances at once, click Replace all. You won’t see every single result, just a message when they have all been replaced that will tell you the number of replacements.
Use advanced search and replace
When the word or phrase you want to find and replace requires a bit more, you can use the advanced options. In the window Search for and replace, click on Plus In the bottom left.
You will then see many additional search options to find your text. Here are some examples of how these options can be useful.
Match upper and lower case: This option searches for the exact letter of the word or phrase. Let’s say you only want to find and replace the word “Abbey” but not “abbey”. By checking this box, the tool will only locate instances of your word with a capital “A”.
Search only whole words: This option finds matches that are whole words, not parts of words. Let’s say you want to find the word “bed” and replace it with “beds.” But it also has “bed” throughout the document. By checking this box, the tool will only highlight “bed” instances where it exists alone. It will not highlight “bedtime”.
Sounds like (English): This option finds words that sound the same. Thus, if you check this box and search for “Sally”, the tool will also highlight the cases of the word “Salli”, “Sallie” and “Sallee”. This is useful if you have misspelled names or misused words.
Ignore punctuation characters: This option will ignore punctuation marks in the word or phrase you are searching for. Let’s say you want to replace “keyword” with “keywords”, but you also have “keyword” instances in your document. Checking this box will highlight both because the “keyword” script will be ignored.
This is just a handful of examples of how advanced Find and Replace options can be useful in Word. You can use the additional options such as finding all word forms, ignoring blank spaces, and using wildcards according to your preferences.
Once you find the text you want to replace, hit the Replace or Replace All button, as described above.
Save time and reduce the risk of errors
The Find and Replace function can be very useful for any document, but especially for longer ones where you have to review a lot of text. So if you need to update words, phrases, or names, take a look at this handy feature.