Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007, 2010, and 2013. 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 Not Using a Certain Style.

Searching for Text Not Using a Certain Style

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated December 20, 2014)

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Hilary notes that she can easily use Word to search for text that is formatted using a certain style or a certain text attribute. For instance, she can search for text that uses the Body Text style or text that is bold. She can even search for text that doesn't have a certain attribute, such as text that is not bold. However, Hilary can't figure out how to search for text that doesn't use a certain style. She wonders if there is a way to search, for example, all the text that doesn't use the Body Text style.

There is no direct way to do this in Word. There are indirect methods you can use, however. Perhaps the easiest is to see if the Body Text paragraphs share some similarity that can be capitalized. For instance, each of them may have some text phrase in common or they might share a common formatting attribute. This last commonality is the most promising.

If, for instance, your Body Text style is defined to have a paragraph indent that is different from the rest of your document, then you can use that indent in your search. Let's say that your Body Text paragraphs are all indented at .2 inches. You could search for all paragraphs that have no indent (an indent of 0 inches). This finds all the paragraphs that don't match the Body Text specification. The only way you would run into problems, of course, is if you had other styles (besides Body Text) that had some sort of an indent.

This leads to another possible solution. Follow these general steps:

  1. Use Find and Replace to Find the all instances of the Body Text style. In the Replace With box, click the Format button and click Highlight.
  2. Click Replace All. You end up with all instances of the Body Text style being highlighted.
  3. Clear the formatting in the Find and Replace dialog box. In the Find What box click Format | Highlight twice. This will show up in the dialog box (under the Find What box) as Not Highlight.
  4. Click Find. Word finds the first occurrence of a paragraph that isn't formatted using the Body Text style. You can find additional occurrences, as desired.

That's it; you've found what you wanted found. When you are done you can use technique in the first two steps to get rid of the highlighting.

Of course, you could replace the first two steps with just modifying the Body Text style so that it includes the highlighting. When you are done, just get rid of that attribute in the style definition.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (8793) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, and 2013. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Searching for Text Not Using a Certain Style.

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 0 + 6?

2016-08-22 10:38:22

Johannes van der Zwan

Hello
I would like to search for a specific text in a word document like:
- "Genesis 3:16"
- "Marcus 2:1,5-6;4:2"
- etc..

I am using Word 2016.
Please can you tell me the best way to do that.

Thank you very much.


2016-05-20 11:34:26

Chris

This was hugely helpful - I need to set all text in multiple docs that is NOT formatted as Body to Body, and this makes it trivial to find that text.

Thank you very much!


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