Changing the Formatting of All Instances of a Word

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated January 7, 2017)

If you are developing a document that will be used to instruct a reader how to use a program, you can make the document more functional by using color. For instance, you could make every occurrence of a given word red or blue. This would help draw the user's eye to that area of the document.

As an example, suppose you had a special warning paragraph as a design element in your document. Every one of these paragraphs starts with the word Warning! (with the exclamation mark), and you wanted this word to be in red. You can use Word to quickly search for all occurrences of the word and change its color. To do this, follow these steps:

  1. Go to the beginning of your document.
  2. Press Ctrl+H to display the Replace tab of the Find and Replace dialog box. (See Figure 1.)
  3. Figure 1. The Replace tab of the Find and Replace dialog box.

  4. Make sure the Find What and Replace With boxes are empty.
  5. Make sure the Find formatting and Replace formatting areas are blank as well. You can clear the formatting when you are in the Find and Replace boxes by clicking on the More button (if available) followed by the No Formatting button.
  6. Enter the letters Warning! in the Find What box.
  7. Press Tab to position the insertion point in the Replace With box.
  8. Click on the Format button and select Font from the options. (If the Format button is not visible, click on the More button first.)
  9. Change the Color box so it contains the color red.
  10. Click on OK.
  11. Click on Replace All.

If you don't have a color printer, color words will do you little good when you print a document. You could achieve close to the same effect, however, by changing all occurrences of a certain word to a special format that will be noticeable on your printout.

For instance, let's assume you have a special warning paragraph as a design element in your document. Every one of these paragraphs starts with the word Warning! (with the exclamation mark), and you want this word to be in bold italics. You can use Word to quickly search for all occurrences of the word and change its formatting. To do this, follow these steps:

  1. Go to the beginning of your document.
  2. Press Ctrl+H to display the Replace tab of the Find and Replace dialog box.
  3. Make sure the Find What and Replace With boxes are empty, and that both the Find formatting and Replace formatting areas are blank as well.
  4. Enter the letters Warning! in the Find What box.
  5. Press Tab to position the insertion point in the Replace With box.
  6. Click on the Format button and select Font from the options.
  7. Click on the check boxes for Bold and Italic. A checkmark should appear in each box.
  8. Click on OK.
  9. Click on Replace All.

This will result in all occurrences of Warning! being formatted as bold and italic.

So far this tip has illustrated how to use Find and replace to do your formatting changes. If you are creating a longer document, it may actually be more appropriate to use styles to apply your formatting. Styles are very powerful, as they allow you to define how your text should look. If you later change the style, then all text in your document to which you previously applied that style is automatically updated to reflect the modified style definition. Using and creating your own custom styles has been covered in other issues of WordTips.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (3072) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2016.

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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