Wildcards Are Nitro for Your Find & Replace

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].

Expand the Advanced Find and Replace dialog to access the wildcards option.

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.

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For more tips on working with Find and Replace, start on p. 47 of the book.

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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!

Image by Onur Ömer Yavuz from Pixabay.

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