Replacing and Formatting at the Same Time

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated July 9, 2022)
This tip applies to Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Word in Microsoft 365, and 2021


Patrick has a document in which there are "start" and "stop" character sequences that indicate where italics should begin and end. For instance, in the text sequence "$$$This is some text!$!" the "$$$" indicates the start of italics and the "!$!" indicates the end. Patrick wonders if there is a way he can use Find and Replace to (1) remove the character sequences and (2) format the text between those character sequences to italics.

This type of Find and Replace may sound difficult, but Word actually makes it quite easy, provided you use wildcards in your F&R operation. Follow these steps:

  1. Press Ctrl+H to display the Replace tab of the Find and Replace dialog box.
  2. Click the More button, if it is visible.
  3. Make sure the Use Wildcards check box is selected.
  4. In the Find What box, enter "$$$(*)\!$\!" (without the quote marks).
  5. In the Replace With box, enter " \1" (again, without the quote marks). This tells Word to use, as replacement text, the first occurrence of text within parentheses in the pattern denoted in step 4.
  6. With the insertion point still in the Replace With box, press Ctrl+i. (This tells Word that you want the replacement text to be formatted as italics.)
  7. Click on Replace All.
  8. Close the Find and Replace dialog box.

That's it; only a single find-and-replace operation is needed. The "find" pattern (in step 4) indicates you want to find anything (*) surrounded by your indicated markers. Important! that the backslashes before the exclamation marks in step 4 are important, as they cause the characters to be treated as actual exclamation marks.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (3851) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Word in Microsoft 365, and 2021.

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 9 + 3?

2022-07-18 16:28:37

Therese Grisewood

Hi Allen,

I'm one of your subscribers from Ireland. I'm hoping you can help me.

I need to create a vocabulary list from each chapter of my proposed Spanish book. How do I create this? Is there a trick I need to know?

Thanks for all your tips each Saturday. I read them and save them. I also have some of your videos. I'm working through Macros and used them in my Spanish book.

Thanks again and stay safe in the sun. Imagine we have over 85 degrees Fahrenheit in Ireland today. Unheard of high temperatures for our little country.

Therese Grisewood

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