Replacing Formatting Functions as a Toggle

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated August 12, 2023)
This tip applies to Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Word in Microsoft 365, and 2021


Sarra is trying to use Find and Replace to make a particular word italic throughout an entire document. Some of the existing occurrences are already italics, but most are not. The replace operation is switching the existing italics back to regular text—it is functioning as a toggle. Sarra wonders how to get Find and Replace to convert all the words to italics without changing those that already are italics.

In testing, I could not replicate Sarra's problem of previously italic text become non-italic and previously regular text becoming italic. Even so, there is a rather easy way to anticipate and overcome any potential problem and still only perform a single find and replace operation. Follow these steps:

  1. Press Ctrl+H. Word displays the Replace tab of the Find and Replace dialog box.
  2. Click the More button, if it is available. (See Figure 1.)
  3. Figure 1. The Replace tab of the Find and Replace dialog box.

  4. Click the No Formatting button, if it is available.
  5. In the Find What box, enter the word or phrase for which you want to search.
  6. With the insertion point still in the Find What box, press Ctrl+I twice. The text "Not Italic" should appear just below the Find What box.
  7. Click once in the Replace With box to place the insertion point there.
  8. Click the No Formatting button, if it is available.
  9. In the Replace With box, either enter the same word or phrase you specified in step 4, or enter ^&, which instructs Word to use the text in the Find What box.
  10. With the insertion point still in the Replace With box, press Ctrl+I once. The text "Italic" should appear just below the Replace With box. (See Figure 2.)
  11. Figure 2. Getting ready to do the replace operation.

  12. Change any other settings in the dialog box, as desired.
  13. Click the Replace All button.

The result of this approach to doing the Find and Replace is that only the text that is not italic will be matched and changed to italic. Any text previously formatted as italic will be skipped completely.

You should note that steps 5 and 9 use a formatting shortcut for specifying "not italic" and "italic," respectively. You could, if you prefer, also click Format | Font in each step to display the Find Font dialog box (step 5) and Replace Font dialog box (step 9) and then choose Not Italic (step 5) and Italic (step 9).

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (5910) 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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