How to Find a Word in Word

Use the word processor's search function to locate text and more

What to Know

  • Basic word search: Go to the Home tab. Select Find and enter the text for the search.
  • Advanced search: Go to Home > Find. Choose the search drop-down arrow. Select Options and select your criteria.

This article explains how to search for text in Microsoft Word. The information applies to Word 2019, Word 2016, Word 2013, Word 2010, Word Online, and Word for Microsoft 365.

How to Do a Basic Word Search in MS Word

Microsoft Word includes a search function that makes it easy to search for different elements in a document, including text. Use the basic tool to look for instances of a specific word, or the advanced options to perform tasks such as replace all instances of a word with another one or search for equations.

To run a basic search for a specific word or phrase in Word:

  1. Go to the Home tab and select Find, or press Ctrl+F.

    In older versions of Microsoft Word, select File > File Search.

    Word with the Home and Find menu items highlighted
  2. In the Navigation pane, enter the text you want to search for. A list of matching words displays in the Navigation pane and instances of the word are highlighted in the main document.

    Word's Navigation panel with the search box highlighted
  3. Cycle through the results in the Navigation pane in one of three ways:

    • Press Enter to move to the next result.
    • Select a result with the mouse.
    • Select the Up and Down arrows to move to the previous or next result.
  4. Make any changes or edits to the document as needed.

  5. Select the Down arrow to move to the next instance of the word.

Match Case, Whole Words Only, and More

Beyond searching for every instance of a word, you can get more specific about what you want to find. For example, to find whole instances of a word and not every word that contains the letter combination or to find instances of a word that aren't capitalized.

Here's how to do an advanced search:

  1. Select Home > Find.

    Word with the Home and Find menu items highlighted
  2. In the Navigation pane, select the Search drop-down arrow.

    Navigation Panel in Word with the dropdown arrow highlighted
  3. Choose Options.

    Options in the Navigation Pane in Word
  4. In the Find Options dialog box, choose the description that best fits what you're trying to find. For example, to find instances of a word with the same capitalization, select Match case.

    Microsoft Word Find Options interface
  5. Select OK.

    Find Options in Word with the OK button highlighted

Use Advanced Find

Many of the choices available in the Find Options dialog box are also available in Advanced Find. Advanced Find includes the option to replace the text with something new. Based on your selection, Word replaces one instance or all instances at once. You can also replace the formatting, or change the language, paragraph, and tab settings.

Microsoft Word Advanced Find interface

Find Instances of Other Elements

Other options in the Navigation pane include searching for equations, tables, graphics, footnotes, endnotes, and comments.

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