Using Microsoft Word to Search for Words

An Introduction to Microsoft Word's Search Feature

Using the find feature in Microsoft Word


The search utility included in Microsoft Word provides a very easy way to search for all kinds of things in a document, not just text. There's a basic search tool that's easy for anyone to use but there's also an advanced one that lets you do things like replace text and search for equations.

Opening the search box in Microsoft Word is easy if you decide to use the keyboard shortcut, but it's not the only method available. Follow the steps below to learn how to search a document in Word.

How to Search in MS Word

  1. From the Home tab, in the Editing section, click or tap Find to launch the Navigation pane. Another method is to hit the Ctrl+F keyboard shortcut.

    In older versions of MS Word, use the File > File Search option.

  2. In the Search document text field, enter the text you want to search for.

  3. Press Enter to have Word find the text for you. If there's more than one instance of the text, you can press it again to cycle through them.

Search Options

Microsoft Word includes lots of advanced options when searching for text. After you've made the search, and with the Navigation pane still open, click the small arrow next to the text field to open up a new menu.


The Options menu lets you enable several options, including match case, find whole words only, use wildcards, find all word forms, highlight all, incremental find, match prefix, match suffix, ignore punctuation characters, and more.

Enable any of them to make them apply to the current search. If you want the new options to work for later searches, you can put a check next to the ones you want, and then apply the new set as the default.

Advanced Find

You can find all of the regular options from above, in the Advanced Find menu too, as well as the option to replace the text with something new. You can have Word replace just one instance or all of them at once.

This menu also gives the option to replace the formatting as well as things like the language and paragraph or tab settings.

Some of the other options in the Navigation pane include searching for equations, tables, graphics, footnotes/endnotes, and comments.