How to Use Find and Replace in Word

Learn the tricks for Word 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2016

A screen shot of Microsoft Word's Find and Replace options.
Find and Replace on the Home tab of Word 2016. Joli Ballew

All editions of Microsoft Word offer a feature called Find and Replace. You use this when you need to search for a specific word, number, or phrase in a document and replace it with something else. This is quite useful if you need to make a lot of replacements at once like changing the name of the main character in a novel you’ve written or something you've consistently misspelled.

Fortunately, you can tell Word to make all of the changes automatically. You can also 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.

This covers the Windows version of Word, but it works similarly in the Mac version of Word.

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

01
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Locate the Find and Replace Function

The Find and Replace feature is located on the Home tab in all editions of Microsoft Word. The configuration of the Home tab is a little different for each version though, and the way Word appears on a computer screen or tablet depends on the screen’s size and resolution settings. So, the Word interface isn’t going to look the same to everyone. However, there are a few universal ways to access and use the Find and Replace feature across all versions.  

C​lick the Home tab and then:

  • Click Replace or
  • Click Editing and then click Replace or
  • Hold down the Ctrl key and then H (Ctrl + H).

When you use one of these options, the Find and Replace dialog box appears.

02
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Find and Replace a word in Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016

A screen shot showing the Find and Replace dialog box.
Find and Replace. Joli Ballew

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, you click Replace, and either allow Word to change every entry for you, or, go through them one at a time.

Here’s an exercise you can do for practice to see how it works:

  1. Open Microsoft Word and type the following without quotes: “Today I am learning how to use Microsoft Word and I’m very happy!”.
  2. Click Ctrl + H on the keyboard.
  3. In the Find and Replace dialog box, type “I’m” without quotes in the Find What area. Type “I am” without quotes in the Replace With area.
  4. Click Replace.
  5. Note that I’m is highlighted in the document. Either:
    1.  Click Replace to change it to I am and then click Replace again to change the next entry to I am or,
    2. Click Replace All to replace both at once.
  6. Click OK.

You can use this same technique to look for phrases. Just type the phrase to find instead of a single word. You don't need quotes to define the phrase.  

03
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Search a Page in Word for Punctuation

A screen shot of the Find and Replace dialog box.
Find and replace punctuation. Joli Ballew

You can search for punctuation in a page. You use the same technique for any find and replace task except that you type a punctuation symbol instead of a word.

If you have the previous document still open, here’s how to do it (and note that this works for numbers, too):

  1. Click Replace on the Home tab or use the key combination Ctrl + H.
  2. In the Find and Replace dialog box, type ! in the Find What line and . in the Replace What line.
  3. 3.Click Replace. Click Replace.
  4. 4.Click OK. 
04
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Change Capitalization in Microsoft Word

A screen shot of the Find and Replace dialog box.
Find and Replace punctuation. Joli Ballew

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.
05
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Explore Other Ways to Search Words on a Page

A screen shot of the Navigation pane in Word 2016.
The Navigation tab for Find. Joli Ballew

In this article we’ve talked solely about the Find and Replace dialog box by accessing it through the Replace command. We believe it’s the easiest and most straightforward way to find and replace words and phrases. Sometimes you don’t need to replace anything though, you simply need to find it. In these cases you use the Find command.

Open any Word document and type a few words. Then:

  1. From the Home tab, click Find, or click Editing and then Find, or use the key combination Ctrl + F to open the Navigation pane.
  2. In the Navigation pane, type the word or phrase to find.
  3. Click the Search icon to see the results.
  4. Click any entry in those results to go to the place on the page where it is located.
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