Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Office 365. 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 Paragraph Marks and Line Breaks.

Searching for Paragraph Marks and Line Breaks

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated January 15, 2019)

6

Word allows you to search not just for text, but also for special characters that normally do not print. Two of the most common characters you will find yourself searching for are paragraph marks and line breaks (sometimes called newline characters and inserted by pressing shift+enter). To search for these characters, follow these steps in Word 2007:

  1. Press Ctrl+F. Word displays the Find tab of the Find and Replace dialog box. (See Figure 1.)
  2. Figure 1. The Find tab of the Find and Replace dialog box.

  3. In the Find What box, enter the text for which you want to search. To search for a paragraph mark, enter ^p; to search for a line break, enter ^l. It is important to use a lowercase p or l.
  4. Set other searching parameters, as desired.
  5. Click on Find Next.

If you are using Word 2010 or a later version then the interface used for searching is different than in earlier versions of Word:

  1. Press Ctrl+F. Word displays the Navigation task pane at the left side of the screen.
  2. In the box at the top of the Navigation pane, enter the text for which you want to search. To search for a paragraph mark, enter ^p; to search for a line break, enter ^l. (It is important to use a lowercase p or l.) If there are not too many matches, Word displays them in the Navigation pane.
  3. Use the Next and Previous arrows, just to the right of the pane tabs, to navigate through what Word found.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (8699) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Office 365. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Searching for Paragraph Marks and Line Breaks.

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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Comments

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What is eight minus 8?

2019-01-21 20:22:10

Larry Schwartz

I'm using Chrome as my browser. I could not get the search/replace to work for manual line breaks because the ^l appears as a bold vertical bar. or capital letter "eye". I finally figured out that it is the letter "el". Please update the text to note that.

Thanks for sharing all the stuff you do. It is a great help to me.


2018-11-14 09:44:33

Andrew

Markus, perhaps you don't have any manual line breaks in the document. These are inserted by pressing Shift-Enter.


2018-11-13 09:44:26

Markus Varis

Does not wok. Searching for ^l returns no results.


2017-12-31 03:52:20

Kevin Kweenarto

I just manage to find that line break ^l, thank you.


2016-10-03 14:45:29

Mike

You can also click on More in the Find and Replace dialog box and then click Special. This will allow you to search for many non-printing characters.
These will highlight even if they're not displayed by turning on the Show/Hide Paragraph button on the Home Tab.
It's usually better to have the non-printing characters displayed but the Find and Find/Replace dialog box will highlight then either way.
A great use for this is a document with numerous returns (Paragraph) marks in between pages and/or what we sometimes find at the end of a document.
Simply use the method noted above or enter double, or triple paragraph marks (^p^p, ^p^p^p) for the find and replace them with one Paragraph mark (^p).


2016-10-03 07:59:37

Surendera M. Bhanot

Such non-printing marks are visible simply by clicking the the inverted P "Show/hide" button in the Paragraph Group on the Home Tab.

This toggle button show (or hide) the Paragraph marks and other formatting symbols.

This can also be achieved by holding Ctrl+Shift together and pressing *

One can directly edit them in the doc once they are visible!!


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