BITS & BYTES: Advance Find and Replace, part 1

2013-03-06T12:48:00Z 2013-03-06T15:26:08Z BITS & BYTES: Advance Find and Replace, part 1April Miller Cripliver Times Business Columnist
March 06, 2013 12:48 pm  • 

Q: I use Microsoft Word a lot. There seems to be more power in the Find and Replace feature than I currently use or understand. Can you give me some ways to use Find and Replace that will help me understand it better?

A. Find and Replace is one of Word’s most powerful and flexible features – but it’s considerably underused. Most people use it to find specific content, but they don’t realize it can also run rings around many tedious tasks. Start with these easy-to-implement ways to use advanced Find and Replace settings and see what they inspire for your own day-to-day chores.

Replace two spaces with a single space

Some old school users still insert two spaces after a period. If you inadvertently do this, you can quickly replace two spaces with one:

1. Press [Ctrl]+H to open the Find and Replace dialog box.

2. Click inside the Find What control, delete any existing contents, and enter two spaces (just two).

3. Click inside the Replace With control, delete any existing contents, and enter one space.

4. Click Replace All or use the Replace and Find Next buttons to find (and replace – or not) each occurrence individually.

These settings will find all occurrences of two spaces, not just those at the end of a sentence. You can refine the search by prefacing both the Find and Replace strings with a period (or other punctuation mark).

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.

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.

Insert new text

Replacing existing text with new text is simple. But inserting new text without deleting anything is a bit harder. For instance, let’s suppose you want to insert the text “, Inc.” to each occurrence of a company name. You can update each individually or you can use the ^& code as follows:

1. Press [Ctrl]+H.

2. In the Find What control, enter the name of the company, Harkins and Son.

3. In the Replace With control, enter ^&, Inc.

4. Click Replace All.

Opinions are solely the writer's. April Miller Cripliver, of Chesterton, has a doctorate in management information systems and is a computer hardware and software consultant. E-mail your computer questions to, and specify your operating system and other pertinent PC information.

Copyright 2014 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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