Replacing and Formatting at the Same Time

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated November 19, 2020)


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).
  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, and Word in Office 365.

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 3 + 0?

2015-08-29 08:48:48

Ken Endacott

The following code will change the spacing of just the one paragraph. Place the cursor anywhere in the paragraph and run the macro. Note that if the paragraph has its style re-applied then the spacings will revert to those of the style.

With Selection.Paragraphs(1).Range.ParagraphFormat
.LineSpacingRule = wdLineSpaceSingle
.SpaceAfter = 0
.SpaceBefore = 0
End With

The following code will change the spacing of the selected paragraph's style so that all paragraphs that use the style will have their spacing changed.

With ActiveDocument.Styles(Selection.Paragraphs(1).Style).ParagraphFormat
.LineSpacingRule = wdLineSpaceSingle
.SpaceAfter = 0
.SpaceBefore = 0
End With

2015-08-28 07:33:06

Jim Andrews

Phil Reinie,
That is what I'm trying to eliminate; the 6 points of white space before and after a paragraph using a macro.
Recording the process does not do the trick.
I am familiar with editing macros, but can't figure out what to place in the macro to accomplish this.

Thanks to everyone who replied.

2015-08-27 10:09:17

Phil Reinie


Is the space above the paragraph its own paragraph or does the paragraph you with "space before" just greater space than you want?

KenE basically covered the first one:
where you are replacing paragraphs with only "white space" (no text) with no paragraph (IE, replace something with nothing (essentially delete the no-text paragraph)), ...

and in the second you can change the style of the paragraph to have zero (or whatever) points of space you want (before or after, or both) for the paragraph.

Body text paragraph style has 6 points of spacing after each paragraph, but Normal paragraph has zero point of spacing after. (They both have zero points before the paragraph.) So you could also select all paragraphs of one type (style) and change them to a different style.

2015-08-23 21:02:12


Peter: Step 5 tells Word to use, as replacement text, the first (1) occurrence of text within parentheses from the "Find What" text.

Thus, the 1 results in whatever is matched by the asterisk (*) in the "Find What" text.


2015-08-23 15:31:09

Peter Kirkpatrick

This is described as an easy process, but not to me! Can someone explain to me what Step 5 does?

2015-08-23 05:39:44

Ken Endacott

The easiest way to create your macro is to use Record Macro then run Find and Replace with the three Find and Replace string pairs. The three macros can then be combined into one. The strings are:

Change multiple spaces to one space:

Remove blank paragraphs

Remove all spaces at end of paragraph:

Don't forget to turn on Use Wildcards.

2015-08-22 08:24:18


I've been trying to use macro to:
1. set all to single space
2. remove space above paragraph
3. remove space after paragraph

All to no avail.
Any ideas?

2015-08-22 07:27:48

Rod Grealish

This technique could be used with simple embedded HTML tag pairs such as <I> </I>, <B> </B> or <H1> </H1>. A document prepared with a basic editor could be opened in Word and the tags replaced by the appropriate formatting. In step 6 of the tip replace the shortcut (Ctrl+i) by another formatting shortcut. For more complex formatting click on the Format button, Click Font ... option and select the required combination of formatting such as Font, Font style, Font size, Underline.

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