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 Differences when Searching.

Special Differences when Searching

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated January 24, 2015)

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, and 2013. 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. ...

MORE FROM ALLEN

Automatically Using Smart Quotes

As a way to make your documents look more professional, Word can utilize "smart quotes" for both quote marks and apostrophes. ...

Discover More

Deleting a Large Number of Styles

Styles are a fantastic tool for formatting documents. As you work with documents created by others, you may want to get rid ...

Discover More

Saving Grammar Preferences with a Document

The grammar checking tool in Word can be helpful in developing a finished, polished document. You may want to share your ...

Discover More

The First and Last Word on Word! Bestselling For Dummies author Dan Gookin puts his usual fun and friendly candor back to work to show you how to navigate Word 2013. Spend more time working and less time trying to figure it all out! Check out Word 2013 For Dummies today!

More WordTips (ribbon)

Adding Tags to Text

The Find and Replace capabilities of Word can be used to add HTML tags to your document text. This is easier to do than it ...

Discover More

Removing HTTP from URLs

Having problems when it comes to replacing information in URLs? You're not the only one; it can be confusing making mass ...

Discover More

Replacing a Colon in a Sequence

Sometimes you'll run across the need to replace a very specific sequence of characters in your document. It is for these ...

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 7 + 5?

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.