You know how to search for exact words and phrases. Add wildcards to your terms and you’ll give Find and Replace a nitro boost!
What Wildcards Are
Wildcards are sort of tiny code that can stand in for a category of characters, letting you search for more than exact matches. You may have already use the wildcard in an online search: the asterisk (*) can be used to say “any character”. That makes a search for Adri*nne show results for Adrianne as well as Adrienne and even Adrionne or any other character where the * is, for example. Wildcards can also be used to create a search for a range, such as values between the numbers one and seven: [1-7].
How to Use Wildcards
In Word, expand the Advanced Find and Replace dialogue box and then select the Use Wildcards option (see figure).
For a summary of some of the wildcards most useful when copyediting, look at the table on page 50 of the book. One of the more advanced uses is to break content into “expressions” that can then be rearranged.
Turn off Track Changes before doing a Find and Replace using wildcards to avoid messy errors.
With Track Changes turned on, wildcard find and replace (F&R) will mess up the results in a variety of creative ways. The image below gives one common example.
Turn Track Changes off to make a change using wildcards. Leave a comment explaining that the change was made silently (without tracking) or mention that in your transmittal memo.
If the changes simply must be tracked, use the Compare Docs function after the F&R to provide the markup (you could even label those changes as having been made “by global F&R”).
Or, more laboriously: include only highlighting or font colour change in the replace field and then find that formatting to make the changes manually with tracking turned on. It’s a laborious way to make sure you don’t miss any instances that need changing.