Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007, 2010, and 2013. If you are using an earlier version (Word 2003 or earlier), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for earlier versions of Word, click here: Special Characters in Pattern Matching.

Special Characters in Pattern Matching

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated May 16, 2015)

If you are using the powerful pattern-matching engine in Word, you should understand that you cannot search for some special characters in the same way you do when normally searching. In normal Word searching you indicate the start of a special character by using the caret (^) followed by a character that indicates what you are searching for. For instance, ^p will search for a paragraph mark.

When pattern matching is enabled you cannot use all the special characters you normally used in searching. Instead you must use workarounds, as shown here:

Normal Search Pattern Match Meaning
 ^e ^2 Auto-numbered endnote reference mark
 ^f ^2 Auto-numbered footnote reference mark
 ^b ^12 Section or page break
 ^p ^13 Paragraph mark

Note that the workaround for endnotes and footnotes is the same. This means that you cannot differentiate between these characters when pattern matching. In addition, you cannot search for a field (^d) when using pattern matching. Searching for white space (^w) is also a little different. You must type a space (press the Space Bar) and then enter the pattern {1,}. This causes Word to search for one or more spaces.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (1443) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, and 2013. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Special Characters in Pattern Matching.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He  is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

MORE FROM ALLEN

Excluding Some Data from a Chart

Excel is a whiz at creating charts from your worksheet data. When the program tries to determine what should be included in a ...

Discover More

Chapter Numbers in Indexes and TOAs

Word allows you to define prefixes for page numbers. These are often used for chapter or section numbers in a large document. ...

Discover More

Extra Document File Being Saved

You may be surprised sometime to save a document and find out that Word actually saves what appear to be two copies of the ...

Discover More

Learning Made Easy! Quickly teach yourself how to format, publish, and share your content using Word 2013. With Step by Step, you set the pace, building and practicing the skills you need, just when you need them! Check out Microsoft Word 2013 Step by Step today!

More WordTips (ribbon)

Ordering Search and Replace

The wildcard searching available in Word is very powerful. Here's how you can use ordering in your search efforts to make ...

Discover More

Replacing Two Tabs with a Space in Limited Situations

The Find and Replace feature of Word is very powerful, allowing you to finely target exactly what you want to search. This ...

Discover More

Replacing Text and Capitalizing a Letter in One Step

The Find and Replace capabilities of Word are very powerful. You can even use them to do some complex and specific searching ...

Discover More
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WordTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.

Comments

If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is 9 + 4?

There are currently no comments for this tip. (Be the first to leave your comment—just use the simple form above!)


This Site

Got a version of Word that uses the ribbon interface (Word 2007 or later)? This site is for you! If you use an earlier version of Word, visit our WordTips site focusing on the menu interface.

Newest Tips
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WordTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.