In this series of articles on Find and Replace in Word, we’ve looked at basic Find and Replace and advanced Find and Replace (wild cards and the like). Now we’re going to have a look at finding and replacing formats.
Why would I want to search for formats?
There are lots of reasons why you might want to search for formats. I’ve used this particularly when working with anything that has specific formatting for specific words or phrases. For example, you may have decided to italicise all book titles in your thesis bibliography, only to find that they’re supposed to be in no italics and bold. You can search for all text that’s in italics and change it to being in bold using Replace All (or Find Next – Replace, which, as we discussed in the first article, is a safer option just to be sure). Another way I use this is if I need to look for manual page breaks that have been inserted into a document, or section breaks: it’s much quicker than scanning through hundreds of pages looking for formatting marks.
How do I search for formats in Word 2007, 2010 and 2013?
Some good news here first of all: once you’ve found your way to the Advanced search dialogue box, the procedure from here onwards is exactly the same for Word 2007, 2010 and 2013. Phew!
To search for JUST a format, rather than a particular word in a format, you need to leave the Find what search box blank. Then click the Format button at the bottom left, to bring up the familiar Format menu that you find if you right-click on any text in the document itself:
Click on Font, for example, and you can search for text in any Font, Font Style (marked here as I’m searching for Bold text) or Size:
When you’ve clicked on Bold (or whichever format you’ve decided to search for) you will be returned to the standard Find dialogue window. You can see that “Format: Font: Bold” appears underneath the Find what search box. I find it useful to select Highlight all – and as you can see, this has highlighted all of the text that’s in bold in my document:
How do I search for a word in a particular format?
You can combine format search with the standard text search. For example, here I’ve chosen the format to be Bold and have then entered the word “troughs” into the Find what box. As we can see from the text behind the box, this has searched for the word troughs in bold:
How do I remove format search from my search?
If you want to remove the format search, you will need to press the No Formatting button at the bottom of the screen. This will remove the “Format: Font: Bold” or whatever note from your Find What search box. If you don’t remove it, Word will continue to only find text in that format, whatever you enter in the search box.
How do I replace a format with a different format?
Once you’ve found all of the text with your required format, you can move to the Replace tab and replace one format with another. In the Replace tab, press the Format button just as you did in the Find tab:
Here I’m choosing to change the Bold text I highlighted earlier into Italic text:
I’m being brave and hitting Replace All, and here’s the effect: those sections that were in Bold are now in Italics:
How do I search for page breaks and formatting characters?
You can also search for different kinds of page formatting using the Special button at the bottom of the Find and Replace dialogue box. This gives you a whole range of formatting characters that you can search for, including paragraph marks, section breaks, etc.
I find this very useful for searching for manual page breaks – you can do this with formatting marks turned on or off (if you have then turned on, it will highlight the formatting mark; if they’re turned off, just the space where it would appear). Here I’ve searched for manual page breaks (where I’ve pressed Ctrl-Enter to force a page break):
You can see that it’s highlighted a space where the page break is hidden from view – but there:
If I turn on Show Formatting, you can see what Word is highlighting:
In this article, we’ve learned how to Find and Replace formats in Word 2007, 2010 and 2013, and how to search for breaks and other formatting characters. If you’ve enjoyed this post or found it useful, please do take a moment to share or comment – your comments and shares are always appreciated!
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 …
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