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: Finding an Unknown Character.

Finding an Unknown Character

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated January 27, 2017)


Word documents can contain just about any character you can think of—and many you can't. If you inherit documents from other people, or cut and paste information from other sources, it is possible to end up with characters in Word that you don't know how to identify. If you can't identify them, then it makes it very hard to search and replace them. Sometimes Word will allow you to copy the character and paste it into the Find box when searching, but you can only do this with a limited number of characters.

The answer to this conundrum is to identify, specifically, the character in question. Then you can use the special features of the Find box to locate it. The first step is to create this macro:

Public Sub GetCharASCII()
    MsgBox "CharCode is: " & Asc(Selection)
End Sub

Next, select the single character that you have a question about and run the macro. You will see a dialog box that tells you the ASCII value of the character. For instance, let's say that the character value returned is 148. You would then use the following in the Find box:


Word will now find all instances of the character in question, and you can replace it as desired.

If you still have a stubborn character that this won't work for—for instance, some Unicode characters—then a different approach is required. If you fit into this category, refer to the following article at the Word MVP site:

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (9041) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, and 2013. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Finding an Unknown Character.

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 5 + 9?

2017-09-12 17:36:24


Thanks - that does indeed work.

2017-09-06 09:28:36


You need to search for an up-arrow followed by "u" followed by the Unicode number *in decimal* - not hexadecimal. For example, right single quotation mark is "2019" in hexadecimal and "8217" in decimal. So search for "^u8217" and it should work.

2017-09-05 08:21:16


I'm using Office 2013 and curious how one would find a unicode character. Let's say we want to detect right single quotation marks (\u2019) and apostrophe (\u0027). How could detect these different characters using entirely their unicode characters? I've read several articles that claim this can be done but not found one that actually works.

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