Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Microsoft 365. 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

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated February 13, 2021)
This tip applies to Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Microsoft 365


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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 use 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

Remember 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, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Microsoft 365. 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. ...

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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}] (all 7 characters, in the sequence shown) in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. 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 7 - 6?

2022-05-08 21:46:35

Jackson

Where can I find a comprehensive list of all these special-character codes?


2021-02-16 10:16:49

Andrew

Searching for whitespace also includes tabs, so if you care about that when pattern matching you should search for [ ^t]{1,} which meaning search for any of the characters within the square brackets (in this case a space and a tab) 1 or more times in a row.

Andy


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