BITS & BYTES: More advanced uses for Find and Replace

2013-04-03T10:46:00Z 2013-04-10T16:34:17Z BITS & BYTES: More advanced uses for Find and ReplaceApril Miller Cripliver Times Business Columnist
April 03, 2013 10:46 am  • 

Q. I’m looking forward to reading more of the Find and Replace uses in Microsoft Word.

A. In my last two columns, I started enumerating ten ways you can use the Find and Replace feature in Word. The list continues here:

Use a trick to replace a long text string

The Find What and Replace With controls are limited to 255 characters. When the replace string is longer, copy it to the Clipboard and use the ^c as follows:

1. Press [Ctrl]+H.

2. In the Find What control, enter the text or code to find the content you’re replacing. Don’t forget about wildcards.

3. In the Replace With control, enter ^c.

4. Click Replace All.

This technique will replace the find text with the contents of the Clipboard. Unfortunately, the ^c code doesn’t work in the Find What control.

Transpose data

Using Find and Replace, you can quickly transpose data. For instance, you might need to transpose a list of names in first name, last name format into last name, first name format. Here’s how to do it:

1. Select the list.

2. Press [Ctrl]+H.

3. In the Find What control, enter (<*>) (<*>) (Note: There’s a space between the two wildcard sets).

4. In the Replace With control, enter \2, \1 (with a space between the two wildcard sets).

5. Click the More button and check the Use Wildcards option.

6. Click Replace All.

Here’s how the wildcard components work:

  • The brackets (<>) denote the beginning and ending of a word or phrase.
  • The * character refers to any characters.
  • The parentheses indicate a pattern.
  • The slash (\) replaces characters, and the number after it indicates the position of a bracketed component.

Insert special characters

Sometimes you need to insert special characters into a document. For instance, you might want to insert a nonbreaking space between parts of a company or person’s name. If there are only a few instances of the name and the document is short, you can achieve this manually with little trouble. Otherwise, using Find and Replace might be a better choice:

1. Press [Ctrl]+H.

2. In the Find What control, enter the find text.

3. In the Replace With control, enter the same text, but instead of entering spaces by pressing the Spacebar, press [Ctrl]+[Shift]+Spacebar. You can’t tell the spaces apart, but they’re different.

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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