Tag Archives: Find and Replace

Tracking Moved Text

Sometimes I want to move text. It’s nice when Word will mark it as moved. That causes less pain to my writer who at first thinks I deleted a bunch of their wonderful words.
My Word options are set to mark moved text as shown above.

The problem is that this function is glitchy in Word. Sometimes you just can’t get the text to be marked as “moved.” After checking that the Preferences for Track Changes (see figure below) are indeed set to mark moves, try these two solutions:

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Pro Tip: Identifying Dashes

The difference between – and — is one of those dog-whistle edits that people in the know find make a document elegant versus incorrect, and literally nobody else even notices in the slightest. One of the challenges in using dashes correctly is simply seeing which one is in use: en or em length. In some font families, the dashes are nearly identical length! While editing, you can make this blazingly obvious by colour coding the various dashes so they stand out while you work. At the end, simply remove all highlighting.

How to Colour Code Dashes in a Manuscript

Fig. 1 Highlighting colour choices on the Home ribbon.
  1. Turn off Track Changes. You’re going to undo this highlighting later, so there’s no need to bog down the file by tracking this.
  2. Select the teal* highlight tool on the Home ribbon (Fig. 1), or by selecting it from the pop-up when you right-click on a Windows computer.
  3. Using Advanced Find and Replace, search for a hyphen (just type a hyphen in the Find field).
  4. In the Replace field, type a hyphen again, then from the Format menu in the More options, click Highlight (Fig. 2 below). Word applies the highlight colour that was selected in Step 2.
  5. Click Replace All.
  6. Close F&R and start over at Step 2, this time selecting green, then search and replace for an en dash in Steps 3 and 4 (Fig. 3).
  7. Repeat with violet for the em dash.
Fig. 3 Click the down arrow to open the menu of special codes (regular expressions) and select En or Em Dash if you don’t know the keyboard shortcut.
Fig. 2 Click More to see this menu on the Advanced Find & Replace dialog. Select Highlight… here in Step 4.

Proceed with your edit as usual. Then, at the end, select all and set Highlighting to No Color. (See Troubleshooting below.)

*The colour of highlighting you choose for each doesn’t really matter; that can be your choice. What matters is that they are different colours from each other and that they are different from any other highlighting you use to colour-code your manuscript. That way you can remove highlighting from these characters later without removing highlighting you want to keep.

Fig. 4 Hyphen, en and em dashes in the manuscript will end up looking like this.

Side-by-side, it’s easy to tell the various dashes apart, but the highlighting will help you identify them without effort when they appear alone.

Of course, you could put this in a macro that runs at the beginning of your edit along with removing double spaces, setting the language, the zoom, etc. For instructions on how to do that, look inside the book.

Pro-pro Tip: Add this sequence to your start-up macro and it will happen automatically every time.


If there is highlighting in your document that you need to preserve — such as highlighting instructions to production about inserts or special characters — do not remove all highlighting at the end by setting the whole document to Highlight > No Color. Instead repeat Step 2, selecting No Color for the highlight, then do Steps 3 to 7 to remove highlighting from just the dashes and hyphens.

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

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© This blog and all materials in it are copyright Adrienne Montgomerie on the date of publication. All rights reserved. No portion may be stored or distributed without express written permission. Asking is easy!

Fix Extra Line Spaces

pretzel shaped as a reverse P, the pilcrow paragraph mark

Extra line spaces in a manuscript create layout problems. Whether they were used to create paragraph spacing or start a new page, manual line spacing just isn’t the best practice. What works more elegantly in the workflow is setting the paragraph spacing and using manual page breaks. But first, get rid of those extra line breaks and hard returns!

Just like the extra spaces in last week’s post, there’s no reason to be hunting and destroying extra line spaces by eye, one at a time. With a simple find and replace, MS Word can rid the file of these unwanted artifacts with just a click (or two).

Easy Steps to Rid the Manuscript of Unneeded Line Spaces

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Turn Double Spaces into Single with Just a Click

Whether it’s a holdover from the old days or someone following APA’s guide from a few years ago, every editor will eventually see a manuscript that has two spaces after every period. Because modern layout software handles sentence spacing better than typewriters did, these double spaces are no longer necessary and can, in fact, create weirdly large spacing. One of the routine things an editor (or compositor) does is strip out those double spaces. But there’s no reason to be doing this by eye, one at a time. With a simple find and replace, MS Word can rid the file of these ancient artifacts with just a click.

How to Turn Two Spaces into One

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Finding Imposters: Degrees

Side by side, the imposters are still not always clear.

The degree symbol is used for angles and arcs, temperatures, and the ‘proof’ of alcohol, among other things. You’ll even find it in harmonics. It started as a raised glyph of the digit 0, but best practice in typesetting and design now is to use a true degree symbol designed for the purpose.

The degree symbol is preferred because many fonts style the alternatives in ways that make them look very out of place as a degree symbol.

To Type the Degree Symbol

Continue reading Finding Imposters: Degrees

5 Uses for a Non-Breaking Space

Have you ever seen the non-printing ° symbol and wondered what it was? You’re looking at a non-breaking space.
By using a non-breaking space, we can ensure that we don’t end up breaking a measurement up at the end of a line.

A non-breaking space has intentional and side benefits:

  1. Keep digits with their unit of measurement.
  2. Keep names from splitting over a line break.
  3. Keep long numbers from splitting over a line break.
  4. Identify content copied from a PDF or website.
  5. An easily searchable character for your compositor to replace.

To Find Non-Breaking Spaces

You don’t have to rely on your eyes alone. In the Find field, type ^s to search for non-breaking spaces. You can even pair this code with wildcards to quickly add non-breaking spaces between all digits and their units of measure, or in place of simple spaces in long numbers.

Compositors and others on the design team can use the non-breaking space as a placeholder for another character, often the thin space which Word cannot produce but which makes for elegant text design.

To Type a Non-Breaking Space

On a Mac: opt + spacebar

In Windows: ctrl + shift + spacebar


It’s not just plagiarism that makes an editor look for text copied from elsewhere. The non-breaking spaces in such pasted content can really mess up layout. I see these a lot in article titles in the bibliography or reference list. By changing those to regular spaces, we can save a lot of fixing in page proofs.

To show or hide these spaces and all non-printing characters, click the ¶ icon on the home ribbon.

A non-breaking space sometimes goes by the name of a fixed space or a hard space.

cover of editing in word 2016 2nd edition

Curly Quote Catches

Curly quotation marks curve in, toward the content that they bracket.

They look nice, and some would say they facilitate reading ease. But curly quotes can cause snafus with macros, wildcards, and content management systems (CMS) like online education interfaces and website back ends. And sometimes Word just doesn’t want to create a mark with the right curl. Here’s how to fix those snags.

Correcting the Curl

If your quotes (or apostrophes) are simply facing the wrong way, the easiest thing to do is type a second mark beside it then erase the wrong one. Or, use one of the keyboard shortcuts listed in the table below. Alt codes work on both operating systems but Mac users may have to turn on the alt codes (or even the unicode) keyboard first. Windows users should type the first two keys together, then press the keys that follow the comma.

Alt CodeMacWindows
opening single quotealt + 0145opt + ]
closing single quotealt + 0146 opt + shift + ]ctrl + ‘, ‘
opening double quotealt + 0147opt + [shift + “
closing double quotealt + 0148opt + shift + [ctrl + ‘, shift + “

Solving F&R Errors

If your find and replace string isn’t working, or it is royally messing up the manuscript, try replacing all the curly quotation marks with straight ones before you run the F&R. Then change them back.

You can read about how to easily change them in this other post.

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

Learn with us! Join a course today.

© This blog and all materials in it are copyright Adrienne Montgomerie on the date of publication. All rights reserved. No portion may be stored or distributed without express written permission. Asking is easy!

How to Find Highlighting

Editors sometimes use highlighting in MS Word to flag content. My publisher clients have asked me to highlight design and production instructions within the text, and I use highlighting to flag item for fact checking or a second look. (Design instructions include things like [table near here] and [note this is a mu symbol].)

Therefore, one of my final checks on a file is to review all the highlighting. Word makes this easy, using the Advanced Find and Replace to skip through all instances of highlighting.

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6 Ways Word Find Fails

The powerful Find and Replace function is one of the reasons editors still prefer using Word for editing documents. Despite the endless program crashes, and all the fails listed here, the power of wildcards and special characters (regular expressions) in Word just isn’t matched by Google Docs, Pages, or any of the myriad alternative programs our clients try to get us to use.

Yet anyone who earns a living using Word can tell you it lets them down in spectacular ways. Knowing some of the ways a Find and Replace effort will malfunction not only lets you be aware that Word may not have your back, but lets you avoid these problems too:

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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:

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