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Locating Specific Content

Word offers many ways of jumping quickly to certain content in a document. This content can be actual data that you've typed, or can be an object such as an image, a caption, a bookmark, or even a certain type of formatting. In the following sections, you'll learn about several ways to browse or search a document to find specific items.

Finding and Replacing

The Find feature in Word helps locate instances of a specified text string. That text string can be anything you care to look for—a product name, a person, a string of numbers, or whatever. You can even use it to find specific formatting or a nonprinting symbol or code, such as a tab or a paragraph break. For example, suppose you are looking for a phone number in a document. You don't remember what page it's on, but you know it starts with a (317) area code. You could search for (317) to locate it.

The Replace feature works hand-in-hand with Find; it performs the Find operation but then replaces the found item with a different text string you specify. As with Find, you can also use Replace with formatting and with nonprinting symbols and codes. For example, suppose you are drawing up a contract for a Ms. Smith, when you find out that she has recently become Mrs. Brown. You can perform a Replace operation to change all instances of Smith to Brown, and all instances of Ms. to Mrs. (Be careful with that one, though, because there might be more than one person in the document who uses Ms. as a prefix.)

Finding a Text String

Here's how to do a basic Find in which you examine each instance of the text, one instance at a time:

  1. Press Ctrl+F, or click Find on the Home tab.
  2. Type the text string into the Find What box. (To find other things besides text strings, such as special characters or formatting, see the next several sections.)
  3. Click Find Next. The display jumps to the first instance of that text (see Figure 3.16).
    Figure 3.16

    Figure 3.16 Find a text string in a document.

  4. Keep clicking Find Next until you find the instance you are interested in, or until a message appears that Word has finished searching the document.

Selecting All Instances of Found Text

If you prefer, you can have Word select all instances at once, and then you can page through the document to examine them. This method actually selects the text strings, as if you had held down Ctrl and dragged across them to select them yourself with the mouse. Clicking anywhere in the document will deselect them, so you can't do any editing of individual instances here without disturbing the selection. However, what you can do is perform some global formatting command upon them all, such as making them all bold or a different font or color.

To select all instances of the found text, follow these steps:

  1. Press Ctrl+F, or click Find on the Home tab.
  2. Type the text string into the Find What box.
  3. Click Find In. On the menu that opens, click Main Document. Word selects each instance of the text string.
  4. Without closing the Find and Replace dialog box, scroll through the document to examine all the instances. If desired, apply a formatting command to them as a group.

    To learn more about text formatting, see "Applying Character Formatting," p. 155.

  5. When you are finished, click Close to close the Find and Replace dialog box.

Highlighting All Instances of Found Text

The preceding procedure selects the instances only for as long as the Find and Replace dialog box is open and you have not clicked to select anything else. Their selection is pretty tenuous, in other words. If you want more durable marking of each found instance, try this instead:

  1. Press Ctrl+F, or click Find on the Home tab.
  2. Type the text string into the Find What box.
  3. Click Reading Highlight. On the menu that opens, click Highlight All.
  4. Close the Find and Replace dialog box and examine all the found instances at your leisure.
  5. When you are finished examining all the found instances, reopen the Find and Replace dialog box (Ctrl+F).
  6. Click Reading Highlight. On the menu that opens, click Clear Highlighting. This clears the highlighting applied from the Find and Replace dialog box, but does not clear highlighting applied with the Highlight feature on the Home tab.
  7. Close the Find and Replace dialog box.

Customizing a Find Operation

The Find operation has many options available for customizing the search. To access them, click the More >> button in the Find and Replace dialog box. The dialog box that appears is shown in Figure 3.17.

Figure 3.17

Figure 3.17 Customize the Find command using these search options.

You can set any of these options as needed:

  • Search—Choose Down, Up, or All to determine in what direction from the insertion point the Find operation will proceed.
  • Match Case—The search is limited to the letter case you used for typing the Find What entry. For example, if you are searching for butter, it will not find Butter.
  • Find Whole Words Only—The search is limited to whole words that match the search string. For example, if you are searching for butter, it would not find butterfly.
  • Use Wildcards—You can use wildcard designators in your searches to find any character (^?), any digit (^#), or any letter (^$). If you forget these codes, you can select them from the Special menu.
  • Sounds Like (English)—The search will include words that are pronounced similarly to the word you are searching for. This is good to have if you aren't sure how to spell a word but you know how it sounds.
  • Find All Word Forms (English)—The search will contain forms of a word even if they are not spelled the same. For example, a search for is would find words such as am, is, are, was, were, and be.
  • Match Prefix—Finds the string only if it appears at the beginning of a word.
  • Match Suffix—Finds the string only if it appears at the end of a word.
  • Ignore Punctuation Characters—Omits punctuation from the search. For example, a search for three and would find three, and (note the comma) if this option is turned on.
  • Ignore White-Space Characters—Omits white space from the search. For example, a search for living room would find livingroom.

With all these options showing, the Find and Replace dialog box becomes rather large and cumbersome. You can shrink it again by clicking the <<Less button.

Replacing a Text String

Click the Replace tab in the Find and Replace dialog box for access to the Replace tools. If the dialog box is not already open, you can open it and display that tab on top by pressing Ctrl+H or selecting Replace on the Home tab.

After entering text in the Find What and Replace With boxes, click Find Next to find the first instance of the string, and then click Replace to replace that instance, or click Find Next again to skip that instance (see Figure 3.18).

Figure 3.18

Figure 3.18 Replace one text string with another on the Replace tab.

If you're really brave, click Replace All to do all instances at once. Be aware, though, that this can have unintended consequences if there are instances you didn't anticipate. For example, suppose you are replacing all instances of White with Brown. But somewhere in your document you talk about the whitening power of a laundry product. The word whitening would become brownning, which is clearly not what you want.

Finding and Replacing Formatting

In addition to finding text strings, Find and Replace can also find formatting. You can use this to find certain strings that are formatted in a certain way, or you can simply find the formatting itself and not include any text in the search.

To find (and optionally replace) certain formatting, follow these steps:

  1. Make sure the additional controls are displayed in the Find and Replace dialog box. Click the More >> button to display them if they are not.
  2. Click in the Find What box to place the insertion point in it. (Optional) If you want to limit the search to certain text, type that text.
  3. Click the Format button. A menu opens.
  4. Click the type of formatting you want to specify. For example, to specify character formatting such as a font, click Font.
  5. In the dialog box that appears, specify the formatting you want to find and then click OK. The dialog box will be different depending on the type of formatting you chose in step 4. For example, in Figure 3.19, the Find Font dialog box is shown.

    Figure 3.19

    Figure 3.19 Find Font is just one example of the dialog boxes for specifying formatting to find.

    Notice that the Effects check boxes have a solid fill in them, meaning that their setting will not be an issue in the search. If you click one of them, it becomes selected with a check mark, meaning the search will find text only with that attribute on. Click it again and it becomes cleared, meaning the search will find text only with that attribute off. Click it a third time to cycle back to the solid fill again.

    Back in the Find and Replace dialog box, a line now appears beneath the Find What text box stating the formatting that has been chosen.

  6. (Optional) Repeat steps 3–5 to specify more formatting criteria for the text to be found.
  7. (Optional) If you want to specify formatting for the replacement, click in the Replace With box and then repeat steps 3–5.
  8. Continue the find operation normally. You can use the Find Next button for an interactive find, or use Replace, Replace All, Find In, or Reading Highlight. (The latter two are available only on the Find tab.)

Finding and Replacing Special Characters

Sometimes the text you need to find is not really text at all, but a layout character such as a paragraph break, page break, or tab. It's actually a fairly common need. For example, suppose you download some unformatted text from the Internet in a plain-text file that uses two paragraph breaks per paragraph—one to end a paragraph and one to create an extra line break between paragraphs. You want to get rid of the extra paragraph breaks, but it's a 100-page document. No problem. For the Find What field, enter two paragraph breaks by selecting Paragraph Mark from the Special menu twice in a row. In the Replace With box, enter a single paragraph mark. In other words, you're replacing every instance of two paragraph marks with one paragraph mark.

As you select a symbol from the Special menu, a caret code is entered into the Find What or Replace With box. It's called a caret code because each of these codes begins with a caret (^) symbol. If you happen to remember the code for what you want, feel free to type it in manually. Table 3.6 lists the codes for all the available special characters. Some of these are available only to find, not to replace, so they will not be available on the list when the insertion point is in the Replace With box.

Table 3.6. Caret Codes for Special Characters in Find and Replace Operations



Where Available

Paragraph break


Find What/Replace With

Tab character


Find What/Replace With

Any character


Find What

Any digit


Find What

Any letter


Find What

Caret character


Find What/Replace With

Section character (§) (not an actual section break)


Find What/Replace With

Paragraph character (¶, not an actual paragraph break)


Find What/Replace With

Clipboard contents


Replace With

Column break


Find What/Replace With

Em dash (—)


Find What/Replace With

En dash (–)


Find What/Replace With

Endnote mark


Find What



Find What

Find What text


Replace With

Footnote mark


Find What



Find What

Manual (hard) line break


Find What/Replace With

Manual (hard) page break


Find What/Replace With

Nonbreaking hyphen


Find What/Replace With

Nonbreaking space


Find What/Replace With

Optional hyphen


Find What/Replace With

Section break


Find What

White space


Find What

In addition to the "caret codes" that refer to individual symbols, there are a variety of special codes that can refer to multiple characters. Table 3.7 lists the available codes and their usage.

Table 3.7. Text String Codes for Find and Replace Operations

To find...

Use This:


Text at the beginning of a word


<(new) finds newton but not renew; same as match Prefix.

Text at the end of a word


>(new) finds renew but not newton; same as Match Suffix.

Any single character of a list of characters

[ ]

f[ai]n finds fan and fin but not fun

Any single character in a range


s[a-o]ng finds sang, sing, and song, but not sung.

Any single character except the specified character range


s[!a-o]ng finds sung but not sang, sing, or song

An exact number of occurrences of the preceding character or expression


we{2}d finds weed but not wed

At least a number of occurrences of the preceding character or expression


we{1,}d finds both weed and wed

Any single character


5{1,4} finds 50, 500, 5000, and 50000

One or more occurrences of the preceding character or expression


50@ finds 50, 500, 5000, and higher numbers of zeros

Using Select Browse Object

The Select Browse Object feature provides an efficient way to scroll through a document when you are looking for a specific type of content. For example, suppose you want to scroll through a large document so you can check the captions on the graphics. You could use Select Browse Object to scroll to the graphics, skipping over any screens that don't contain graphics.

Start by clicking the Select Browse Object button, which is the round icon below the lower arrow on the vertical scroll bar. (Alternatively, press Ctrl+Alt+Home.) A fly-out palette of choices appears. You can point to each choice to see a description. (Table 3.8 also describes each one.) Click one of the choices to specify what to browse for (see Figure 3.20).

Table 3.8. Select Browse Object Types


Object Type


Opens the Go To tab in the Find and Replace dialog box


Opens the Find tab in the Find and Replace dialog box


Browse by edits (if tracking changes)


Browse by heading


Browse by graphic


Browse by table


Browse by field


Browse by endnote


Browse by footnote


Browse by comment


Browse by section


Browse by page

Figure 3.20

Figure 3.20 Choose what Word should browse for.

After selecting the browse type, use the blue double arrows above and below the Select Browse Object button (or press Ctrl+Page Down or Ctrl+Page Up) to move to the next or previous instance of the chosen item.

Using Go To

Go To is useful when you want to go to a particular instance of a content type, not just browse all instances. For example, perhaps you don't want to go through the document page by page, but instead want to jump immediately to page 100. Go To lets you enter the desired page number and go to it. It does this not just with pages, but with many other types of items as well, such as comments, bookmarks, graphics, and so on.

As you saw in Table 3.8, you can access the Go To tab of the Find and Replace dialog box via the Select Browse Object feature. You can also access it by clicking Find and selecting Go To on the Home tab (see Figure 3.21).

Figure 3.21

Figure 3.21 Select Go To on the Home tab.

On the Go To tab, select the item type and then enter the information about it. Depending on the type of item, either a text box or a drop-down list appears. Figure 3.22 shows an example of browsing for a particular section, for example.

Figure 3.22

Figure 3.22 Go to a specified instance of a particular type of item with the Go To tab.

To learn about the other tabs of the Find and Replace dialog box, see "Finding and Replacing," p. 79.

Displaying a Document Map

In a document that uses heading styles, you can display a document map that lists the headings, like a mini-outline view. You can click a heading in the document map to jump quickly to that heading within the document itself.

To display the document map, select the Document Map check box on the View tab. Then click an item on the map to jump to it in the document.

You can customize the document map to show only certain heading levels if you wish. To do so, right-click an empty area of the document map and click the desired outline level, as shown in Figure 3.23. Alternatively, you can click a particular heading that has subheadings beneath it and then right-click and choose Expand or Collapse to show more or fewer levels in only a section of the outline.

Figure 3.23

Figure 3.23 Display a document map that shows all the headings and bookmarks.

To turn off the document map, click the Close (X) button in the top-right corner, or clear the Document Map check box on the View tab again to toggle the feature off.

To learn about heading styles, see "Understanding Styles," p. 228.

To change the outline level at which a style appears in the document map, see "Setting a Style's Outline Level," p. 688.

Displaying Page Thumbnails

Thumbnails are small images of each page. They are useful in situations where you want to move to a certain page based on what it looks like. (Maybe it has a distinctive graphic on it, for example.)

To display or hide page thumbnails, mark or clear the Thumbnails check box on the View tab. Or, if the document map is already open, use the drop-down list at the top of the document map to switch to Thumbnails view.

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