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Find and Replace in Only a Bit of Text

Need to make a global change on just one section of text? Perhaps a lengthy quote pasted in ended up with hard returns at the end of each line, for example.

You’ll need to select the text you want to apply the change to, then use the Advanced Find and Replace tool. There’s no way to limit what text a change is applied to in the simple Find and Replace panel that pops up on the left of the MS Word screen.

To make the change in the example:

  1. Select the quote text.
  2. Open Advanced Find and Replace by clicking the gear icon in the F&R pane on a Mac or, on a Windows computer, the little down arrow. (See Figure)
  3. In the Find field, type ^p — the special code* for a hard return.
  4. In the Replace field, type just a space.
  5. Click Replace All.
  6. Click Cancel when Word asks if you would like to repeat the action on the rest of the document.
screen capture showing step 2

Troubleshooting

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For more tips on working with Find & Replace, look in Chapter 10 of the book.

Watch out for errors this particular F&R combination can create, such as double spaces, and for line breaks that weren’t replaced because they were soft breaks (^l) instead of hard breaks (^p).

*Special codes are also known as ‘regular expressions.’




Got a gnarly Word problem? Submit your problem and we’ll try to answer it in the Q&A thread.



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