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June 2017

Find and Replace Formatting

You can use Word's powerful Find command to search for text as well as the way text is formatted. You can even search and replace formats, which is a handy way to update a document.

I discuss Find and Replace in my Word For Dummies books, but I don't have the space to include more information on searching and replacing formats. So I present this information to you here!

Finding a format

Searching for text formatting involves using the More part of the Find dialog box, specifically the Format button, found in the lower left corner:

Click the More button to see the More part of the Find dialog box. Then click the Format button to see the pop-up menu of formatting options. Each option in that Format menu displays a text formatting dialog box.

As an example, say you want to find those places in your document where the Courier New font is used. Here's how that's done:

1. Press Ctrl+F to bring up the Find dialog box.

2. Click the More button (if necessary).

3. Click the Format button.

4. Choose Font from the list.

You're looking for Font formatting. If you were searching for, say, a right-aligned paragraph of text, you'd use the Paragraph dialog box.

The Font dialog box appears.

5. Choose the Courier New font from the list.

6. Click OK.

Note how the formatting attribute appears below the Find what box?

That's important to remember. It means that the Find command is now looking for that information, in addition to text you type in the Find what box. Leave the Find what box blank, and then Word merely searches for the formatting attribute.

7. Click the Find Next button to begin searching for the format.

Word scours your document, searching for the formatting specified. When found, that formatted text is highlighted in your document.

For more information on Word Find and Replace, refer to my book.

Clearing the Format Search

This is very important! After you search for a format, you'll need to clear that formatting information from the Find and Replace dialog box. If you don't, then Word continues to use the format information in its search, which means your search most likely will come out incorrectly.

Remember this!

I'm being adamant here because this is one thing I constantly forget:

When you start a new search, check to see whether any formatting information is specified or not. If it is, then click the No Formatting button to clear that information.

After clicking the No Formatting button, you can proceed with your new search.

Replacing a Format

A good example of using the Find and Replace dialog box with formats is to find and replace all instances of underlined text with italics text. Here's how to do that:

1. Press Ctrl+H to bring up the Find and Replace dialog box.

2. Click the More button (if necessary).

3. Click the Format button.

4. Choose Font from the list.

5. In the Font dialog box, choose the single underline style from the Underline style drop-down list.

6. Click OK.

The Font dialog box goes away and you're back to the Find and Replace dialog box.

7. Click the mouse in the Replace with text box.

8. Choose Font from the Format button's menu.

Again, the Font dialog box appears.

9. Choose Italic from the list under Font style.

10. Click OK to close the Find Font dialog box.

Now the Find and Replace dialog box lists the two formats beneath the Find and Replace text boxes (which are blank):

Word will find underline text and replace it with italic. The replacement is complete; all underlined text is replaced with italics. There is no need to worry about underline-on or underline-off, or to worry which text is underlined. In this mode of operation, Word is merely replacing one text format with another.

11. Click the Replace All button.

Yeah, you need to be firm in your convictions here: Word will dutifully replace all underlined text with italics. Trust it!

Removing a Format

As with Search and Replace with text, when you search formats and replace them with nothing, it's the same as removing the format from your document. And example of this would be to remove color text from a document so that it prints better on a black and white printer. Here's how to do that:

1. Press Ctrl+H to bring up the Find and Replace dialog box.

2. Click the More button (if necessary).

3. Click the Format button.

4. Choose Font from the list.

5. In the Font dialog box, choose the proper shade of blue from the Font color drop-down menu/palette thing.

6. Click OK.

The Find and Replace dialog box displays your color formatting choice below the Find what text box.

7. Ensure that the Replace with text box is empty, and that there is no formatting listed beneath it.

If there is any formatting, then click the No Formatting button.

8. Click the Replace All button.

Word searches through your document, finding any instances of that colored text and replacing it with un-colored (Automatic) text.

You can use these steps to remove a particular style, a font, a type size, or any style from your document.

Questions on this? Please e-mail me. My address is found at the end of the Introduction in each of my books.