Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Word in Microsoft 365, and 2021. 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: Searching for Text that Does Not Have a Certain Format.

Searching for Text that Does Not Have a Certain Format

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated September 24, 2022)
This tip applies to Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Word in Microsoft 365, and 2021


Word has a very powerful search capability that allows you to find not just text, but the formats of text as well. Many Word users already know how to search for character formats, but you may not know that you can also search for characters that do not have a certain formatting property. To search for characters lacking a certain format, follow these steps:

  1. If you are using Word 2007 press Ctrl+F. If you are using Word 2010 or a later version, display the Home tab of the ribbon, click the down-arrow next to the Find tool in the Editing group, then click Advanced Find. Word displays the Find tab of the Find and Replace dialog box.
  2. Click on the More button if it is available. Word displays an expanded version of the Find and Replace dialog box. (See Figure 1.)
  3. Figure 1. The Find tab of the Find and Replace dialog box.

  4. Delete anything in the Find What box and click on the No Formatting button if it is available.
  5. Click on the Format button and then choose Font. Word displays the Find Font dialog box. Notice that all the character attributes (Superscript, Subscript, and so on) in the Effects area are shaded. This means these attributes do not matter; they are ignored by Word when searching. (See Figure 2.)
  6. Figure 2. The Find Font dialog box.

  7. Select the character attributes you don't want the matched text to have. Make sure the check box beside the attribute is cleared.
  8. Click on OK.
  9. Click on Find Next.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (6141) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Word in Microsoft 365, and 2021. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Searching for Text that Does Not Have a Certain Format.

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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