How to Use Find and Replace in Word

Exchange one text string for another in any version of Word

All editions of Microsoft Word offer a feature called Find and Replace. Use this tool to search for a specific word, number, or phrase in a document and replace it with something else. This under-valued tool proves quite useful for making a lot of replacements at once—like changing the name of the main character in a novel you’ve written or fix something you've consistently misspelled.

Use it, also, to replace numbers, punctuation, and even cap or uncap words. Just type what to find and what to replace it with and let Word do the rest.

If you turn on Track Changes before you begin, you can reject the replacement or deletion of any unintended word. 

01
of 02

Find and Replace a Word

A screen shot showing the Find and Replace dialog box.

The Microsoft Word Find and Replace dialog box, in its simplest form, prompts you to type the word you’re looking for and the word you want to replace it with. Then, click Replace, and either allow Word to change every entry for you or, go through them one at a time.

To open the tool, press Ctrl+H (Cmd+H on Mac).

02
of 02

Change Capitalization in Microsoft Word

A screen shot of the Find and Replace dialog box.

The Find and Replace feature doesn’t take into account anything about capitalization unless you specifically tell it to. To get to that option you’ll need to click the More option in the Find and Replace dialog box:

  1. Open the Find and Replace dialog box using your favorite method. We prefer Ctrl+H.
  2. Click More.
  3. Type the appropriate entry in the Find What and Replace With lines.
  4. Click Match Case.
  5. Click Replace and Replace again, or, click Replace All.
  6. Click OK.

Advanced Options

When you select the More expander in the Search and Replace dialog box, you'll encounter several customizations. The list of items varies according to which version of Word you're running.

Search Options

Select the check boxes to include or exclude things like punctuation, white-space characters, or substrings. Plus, apply tools like word-form matching (i.e., walked also matches walking) and Soundex matching (Karin matches Karen).

Replace Options

Word supports more advanced substitutions, too. Use special characters to substitute text markup with symbols. For example, replace a character code like & with an ampersand. This approach is useful for de-cluttering pasted HTML text that uses HTML codes to render certain symbols.