How to use Find and Replace in Word 2007, 2010 and 2013 2: Advanced Find

23 Jan

Hopefully, you’ve already read about simple Find and Replace in Word in my earlier post. In this article, I’m going to show you some of the Advanced Find features to do with word forms, wildcards and where you’re actually searching. Handily enough, these are the same in Word 2007, 2010 and 2013. For hints on replacing, see the previous article, and for finding formats, look out for my next post in this series (I will link it to this post once it’s live). I’m going to start by discussing the three different options for viewing the results of a simple Find search in Word 2010 and 2013, then move on to the Advanced Find options in all three versions.

Find options in Word 2010 and Word 2013 (Navigation)

When  you hit Ctrl-F to Find in Word 2010 and 2013, you are shown the Navigation side panel. This gives you three options for viewing the results of your simple search (i.e. you’ve searched for just a word or phrase, no whole word only or match case options applied).

The first tab on the left gives you the Outline view – if you have headings in your document, it will give you a run-down of those,and highlight in yellow where your search term appears. The search term “localisation” has been input into the search box at the top.

Word 2010 simple find options 1

The second tab gives you a Page view, showing only the pages that the search term appears on (you will see that it’s displaying pages 5, 6 and 14 here) with the search term highlighted.

Word 2010 simple find options 2

The third tab along gives you the Paragraph view, and this is the one that I find most useful, as it shows you the search term in its context. Click on the box and you’ll navigate to that place in the text. As you can see here, the word has also been highlighted in the actual text, and this is true for all of these views. This paragraph view is the most useful for seeing where you’ve used a word and deciding whether to change it.

Word 2010 simple find options 3

Now we’re going to look at some of the Advanced Find options. You can get to Advanced Find by clicking on the More button in Word 2007’s Search box, or by clicking the down arrow by the search input field and choosing Advanced Find in Word 2010 or 2013. Note, in Word 2010 and 2013, you can click on Options after clicking the down arrow, but that isn’t as specialised or useful as choosing Advanced Find.

If you’re confused about how to find the Advanced Find dialogue boxes, read this post for screen shots and explanations.

Advanced Find options: Find In

The Find In option allows you to specify where exactly you want to look for your search term. This is particularly useful if you are looking for something you or someone else has said in the Comments area of the text, or indeed the footnotes. Here I have a document with a main text, Comments and footnotes. I use the dropdown arrow next to Find In to access my options:

Advanced find options 1 find in

Whichever of these options you choose, it will only search in that area, saving time and narrowing down your search to exactly what you’re looking for.

Advanced Find options: Match case

Match case is extremely useful if you are only looking for a particular form of a word. For example, I might want to catch the instances where I’ve started a sentence with “And”. If I just search for “and” with no other options set, Word will usefully highlight all instances of the word. I’ve highlighted the one that I’m looking for in green here, but you can see how hard it would be to find amidst a sea of and … and … and. Note that I typed the word in with a capital letter, but unless I tell Word to take account of that, it will ignore it, and treat And, and, aNd, ANd, Andy, understanding, etc. all the same (to get rid of those last two, see the next section).

Advanced find options 2 no options

Tick the Match case box and it’s a different story. Now it’s only looking for And with a capital A. Note how the line under the search box includes a note of the option that I’ve selected:

Advanced find options 3 match case

Advanced Find: Find whole words only

As we saw briefly above, search for “and” without ticking any additional options, and Word will find the letters “and” however they may be capitalised and wherever they will be. Here, a search for and highlights the word understanding, too.

This can be really annoying, especially if you’re searching for a word that can appear as part of other words (like under, or stand!) and you want to do a Replace All on them or just find when you’ve used that particular word, not its compound. This is what happens when you don’t choose any options:

Advanced find options 4 no options

To stop this happening, tick the box next to Find whole words only. Now Word will only find the word “and” as a discrete word:

Advanced find options 5 whole words only

Note: you can use these two options together. For example, search for But using Match case and Find whole word only and you will limit what you find to sentences beginning with the word “But”, instead of all the examples of but in the middle of sentences and sentences beginning with “Butterflies” or “Butter” …

Advanced Find options: Wildcards

Lots of people know about the above two options, but Wildcards can seem a little alarming to the novice or even quite experienced Word user. Wildcards allow you to search very precisely for different forms or spellings of a word.

To use Wildcards in your search, tick the Wildcard option.

Advanced find options 7 wildcards

If you already know the special character to use in your Wildcard search, type your search term in the search box. If you need to check which special character to use, click on the Special dropdown on the button at the bottom of the screen. This will give you a huge range of choices for narrowing down your search:

Advanced find options 8 wildcards

In this case, I’m looking for words beginning with “localis”, so I choose the Beginning of Word option from the list:

Advanced find options 9 wildcards

Word inserts the special character in the search input box, and finds all of the words beginning with “localis”:

Advanced find options 10 wildcards

Now, you could just do a basic search for a bit of a word, but that’s only useful if the selection of letters you’re looking for all occur together. In the example above, we’re looking at the letters appearing at the beginning of a word, but what if you’re looking for a word and you can’t remember how you spelled it, or you fear you sometimes used an s and sometimes a z in “organisation”? Use the question mark option and search for “organi?ation” and you will find both spellings.

Note, there are many further special characters here apart from the ones used for Wildcards (which are ? – < and >) – I will be covering some of the most useful of those in future posts.

Advanced Find options: a note on Sounds like and Find all word forms

The two options at the bottom of the list can look quite tempting. But I will be honest and say that I don’t use them in my everyday work (if you do, please comment and share why you find them useful!).

Sounds like is the more useful of the two. It only works for the English language (presumably if you’ve bought a UK or US copy of Word) and it does what it says it does, finding words that sound like the word that you have entered.

Here I’ve searched for “Localize” and it has found the words that I would be looking for. They’re not spelled the same, but they do sound the same.

Advanced find options 11 sounds like

However, Find all word forms does NOT find “localisation” in the same piece of text, so I’d be careful about using this one (in fact, try not to), as it will miss out words from your search:

Advanced find options 12 all word forms

In this article, we’ve learned how to use some of the more advanced features of the Find function in Word 2007, Word 2010 and Word 2013 in order to be able to look for the correct, specialised word in our document, including being able to choose where in the document it is and choosing fewer or more examples of words containing the letters we’re searching for.

If you’ve found this useful, please take a moment to share it, using the buttons under the article, or send me a comment, as I love hearing from my readers and knowing that I’ve helped! Thank you!


This is part of my series on how to avoid time-consuming “short cuts” and use Word in the right way to maximise your time and improve the look of your documents.

Please note, these hints work with versions of Microsoft Word currently in use – Word 2007, Word 2010 and Word 2013 all for PC. Mac compatible versions of Word should have similar options. Always save a copy of your document before manipulating it. I bear no responsibility for any pickles you might get yourself into!

Find all of the short cuts here

Related posts on this blog:

How to use Find and Replace 1 – basic find and replace


Posted by on January 23, 2014 in Short cuts, Word, Writing


Tags: , , , ,

31 responses to “How to use Find and Replace in Word 2007, 2010 and 2013 2: Advanced Find

  1. Elizabeth Snyder

    February 18, 2014 at 3:41 pm

    From an editor-in-training, thank you for such a clear explanation of this useful tool!


    • Liz at Libro

      February 18, 2014 at 3:43 pm

      You’re welcome! Good luck in your editing career; hopefully you’ll find many useful resources on my blog.


  2. Email Extractor Lite 1.4Karan

    May 9, 2014 at 9:10 am

    You can also use some commercial software for find and replace and it also makes your ms word more powerful.


    • Liz at Libro

      May 9, 2014 at 9:14 am

      This is interesting, although it’s an expensive tool for something that you can mostly do in Word anyway for the average user. Thanks for commenting and providing further links for my readers.


  3. bondjems26

    May 12, 2014 at 6:39 am

    You can also use this software for find and replace words and characters in ms word.

    For more detail:


    • Liz at Libro

      May 12, 2014 at 6:41 am

      It’s interesting that there are so many software solutions out there. Readers please note: publishing these comments does not imply any recommendation whatsoever and you click the links at your own risk.


  4. Jill Sellers

    August 22, 2014 at 4:56 pm

    I need a search that looks at every part of the document with one search–text, notes, comments etc. Can WORD 2010
    do that?


    • Liz at Libro

      August 22, 2014 at 5:07 pm

      Yes, if you use the search option in Word 2010 for PC it will find that word or phrase wherever it appears.


  5. Andy

    December 9, 2014 at 12:33 pm

    What about the following situation: “I visited a place called FUN{23}, situated next to FUN{20}”. If I want to find (using wildcards) all occurrences of “{…}” what should I use? (keep in mind that { and } are wildcards).

    PS: {?}, “{?}”, “{“?”}”, “{“+?+”}” do not yield results


    • Andy

      December 9, 2014 at 12:38 pm

      I have to add that by replacing ? with * (from the above expressions that do not work) also is not working.


    • Liz Dexter

      December 9, 2014 at 12:57 pm

      Thanks for your query, Andy. I just want to check, are the curly brackets actually in your text, or are you representing wildcards with them in your example here?


  6. Helen

    January 26, 2015 at 11:11 am

    I would like to replace large amounts of text, eg., taking out a whole paragraph. I have successfully used wildcards to replace text wthin a paragraph but so far I’m unable to find a way to take out a paragraph of text using this feature.


    • Liz Dexter

      January 26, 2015 at 11:15 am

      Are these standard paragraphs you’re removing and are you replacing them with standard text?


      • Helen

        January 26, 2015 at 11:28 am

        In this instance, the paragraphs would all be the same but are too large to use the replace feature, hence the desire to use the wildcard.


        • Liz Dexter

          January 26, 2015 at 11:43 am

          Hm, I see. If it’s possible, I’d delete each paragraph and insert a short place-holder phrase or code, manually, then do an automated replace with your new text. I’m not sure how else you would do it, as there’s obviously a limit on the amount of text you can replace.


          • Helen

            January 26, 2015 at 11:46 am

            What if I only wanted to remove the paragraph and not replace it. We have up to 500 documents per client that we have to macro with lots of different information. We are trying to improve our processes by avoiding manually updating each certificate. Is there anyway to remove a paragraph without messing up the rest of the document. Pagination is not a problem.


            • Liz Dexter

              January 27, 2015 at 6:54 am

              I’ve been looking into this a bit more – if the paragraph proves too large for you to delete using Find and Replace, I think you’re going to have to use a macro to do it. I’m not an expert in macros, unfortunately, but there should be a way to automate that. Sorry I couldn’t solve the problem completely!


              • Helen

                January 27, 2015 at 7:56 am

                My colleague and I figured out how to delete the text. We could delete the whole document if we wanted to. We will have to look into how to get the text in using the clipboard. This will be a bit trickier as these jobs can spead over more than a day so we have to ensure the information is in there. I think we may be able to write text into a macro and call the macro in. We will give that a try. We have made a great leap forward however. Thanks for your help.


  7. marty slaughter

    February 26, 2015 at 3:16 pm

    How do you cancel the search? once you do a search, you disable the function that scrolls page by page (the arrows that run up and down on the side of the document) (the arrows turn from black to blue) and you then can only scroll line by line. No matter what I do, I can’t eliminate the search – even if I save, and exit, multiple time, when I re-open the document, the search is still there (and the page by page scroll still disabled). It’s an incredible nuisance – scrolling by page is a lot more helpful than finding.


    • Liz Dexter

      February 26, 2015 at 3:20 pm

      Thank you for your question. Are you using a PC or Mac, and which version of Word are you using? I usually close find and replace by going to the smaller window that it’s in and closing it by clicking the x in the top right corner. However, I’ve just checked, and I can always click on the document and scroll, even when I’ve got the search window open. If you can give me more idea about what you’re using, I can try to help further, although no promises!


  8. everydayideology

    July 2, 2015 at 5:18 pm

    I really despise the sidebard in Word 2011 for Mac. I’d be happy to have it as an occasional option–but for everyday use, I want my command+F shortcut back. And for some reason, every time I reassign the shortcut to the (now) “Advanced Find and Replace” dialog box, it doesn’t stick! Every time I reopen Word, I have to reassign it again. After several years of this, I’ve had enough. Does a more recent version of Word return to the command-F shortcut for the old dialog box?


    • Liz Dexter

      July 2, 2015 at 5:48 pm

      I’m afraid I am not an expert on the Mac side of things, but I’ll leave this comment up in case anyone can answer it.


  9. John Doe

    July 3, 2015 at 5:21 am

    Hi. I have a doc where I need to delete all parenthesized material. Problem is there are parentheses within parentheses.
    For example: This is a test (delete until here (this) too).
    Simply finding (*) will select from first ( until first ) and leave “too)”.


    • Liz Dexter

      July 3, 2015 at 6:21 am

      That’s an interesting one! I think it’s a job for a macro, not something I am writing about at the moment but will hope to tackle in time.


  10. Valerie Cloud

    July 23, 2015 at 1:43 pm

    How do I get certain words to remain in my Find and Replace box? Specifically, I want the options in “Find” to always stay the same since I’m using forms over and over. Every time I close out of Word, they disappear.


    • Liz Dexter

      July 24, 2015 at 8:47 am

      Thank you for your question. I’m afraid the search box doesn’t remember anything from one session to the next. However, you might be able to do something with a Macro that you run each time. That’s not within the scope of this blog (at the moment) but if you search for macros there is lots of info out there. I hope that helps!



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