About this blog...

Here you will find information, musings, and pictures about life, the natural world and writing.

Sunday, October 31, 2010

MS Word for Authors: Buried secrets of Find and Replace

MS Word's Find and Replace is a feature probably very familiar to you. When "Amanda" must become "Bobbie Sue", you probably use Ctrl+H (or Apple + shift+H) or the Edit menu to open up the dialog box and get Word to do the swap for you.

In case you haven't stumbled on this yet, it's perfectly valid to "Find" something and "Replace with" nothing. Word interprets as "find it and delete it".

Another tip: To eliminate those old-fashioned double spaces after periods, enter two spaces in the "Find" box, which will be invisible, and one space in the "Replace with" box, also invisible. Click "Replace All" and the double spaces will be changed to single spaces. Click "Replace All" again in case you put a few triple spaces in there also.

For additional thrills with Find and Replace, click the little "More" button (PC). On a Mac, look for a tiny down arrow in the lower left corner. Run through that list of options for finding and replacing. "Find whole words only" is handy, especially if you are replacing a short word, if, for example, "son" is to become "daughter." Check this box or "Hudson" can become "Huddaughter," which will mystify you when you are editing text a week later!

Still at the dialog box, click on Format and review that list, too. One example: you can search for a particular font and replace it. This is useful if you've changed the manuscript from, say, Courier New to Times New Roman, and you suspect that some of the New Courier is still lurking in the document. It's easy to set up the Find and Replace--Click in "Find what", select Courier New, then click in "Replace with" and select Times New Roman. The font names display under the boxes, which should be empty since you are not searching on specific words. Click "Replace All" and rest easy that the inappropriate font is now banished. (Click "No Formatting" to get rid of this before you start a new test.)

Explore other options hidden behind that Format button. You can, for example, replace one style with another.

One more tip: This time, click on Special, which is next to Format. This is a very cool feature: you can Find and Replace double hyphens with the classier em dashes, get rid of tabs after you set Normal style to indent five spaces automatically, and perform other formatting gymnastics (with caution, please!).

Open a test document, perhaps a copy of your ms. (clearly named "Test"!) and play around.

Hunt and peck. Isn't that the same as find and replace?


T. Lee Harris said...

Great post, Ann! I didn't realize find and replace also worked on fonts. Very useful, thanks!

Jacqueline Seewald said...


Thanks, this is very useful information.

Jacqueline Seewald

Diane A.S. Stuckart said...

Ann...the closer I get to finishing my current WIP, the more grateful I am for your tips that have helped me format and revise in new and amazingly time-saving ways. Thank you yet again! I am a convert! :)

Tina said...

Thanks, Ann! Always timely. A classmate once used a search and replace function that was designed to eliminate sexist language (you know, changing "man" to "person"). Except that he didn't use that "find whole words only" limit and ended up submitting a paper on Mary Wilkins Freeperson.

Nancy J. Cohen said...

Thanks for these tips. I learned something new.

Post a Comment