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

Special Differences when Searching

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated August 5, 2020)

2

Word includes a powerful search feature that allows you to find information based on just about every conceivable condition. As covered in other issues of WordTips, you can even use wildcards (Word's term for what programmers call regular expressions) in your searching. Here's a tip you may not have known, however.

First, start by displaying the Find tab of the Find and Replace dialog box. (This could just as easily apply to the Replace tab but working with the Find tab will illustrate the point.) If the More button is available, click it so that the dialog box is expanded. (See Figure 1.)

Figure 1. The expanded Find tab of the Find and Replace dialog box.

When you use the normal search capabilities of Word (in other words, the Use Wildcards check box is not selected), the Special button at the bottom of the dialog box displays different special characters for which you can search. If you do a wildcard search (the Use Wildcards check box is selected), the options available when you click on Special are changed to reflect the special needs of using wildcards in your searching.

Why is this a big deal? Because along with the power available by using wildcards in your searching comes additional complexity. Sometimes it is hard to remember the meaning of the different special wildcard characters. Remembering that the Special button displays the necessary characters helps make using wildcards easier.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (2076) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Office 365. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Special Differences when Searching.

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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What is nine minus 4?

2019-12-06 08:55:01

CO'C

I've been using Word for 30 years, and am familiar with "contextual clicks" (for lack of a better term), but I never knew THIS! I'll have to go play with it now.


2019-12-06 08:17:47

Jennifer Thomas

Thank you! I love the power of Wildcards, especially for replace options, but always had to open my handout to remember how to use the characters and the syntax - this is so much easier :).


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