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: Formatting Partial Results of a Search.

Formatting Partial Results of a Search

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated October 28, 2023)
This tip applies to Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Word in Microsoft 365, and 2021


Agnes has a series of paragraphs that begin with a title that is followed by a period and two spaces. She would like to search for this pattern (multiple words at the beginning of a paragraph followed by a period and two spaces) and underline just the words, exclusive of the period and the spaces.

This can be done with a wildcard search in the following manner:

  1. If the first paragraph in your document includes information you want to have underlined, position the insertion point at the beginning of the document and press Enter a single time.
  2. Jump to the end of your document. (This is important; the reason will be explained shortly.)
  3. Press Ctrl+H. Word displays the Replace tab of the Find and Replace dialog box.
  4. Click the More button if it is available. Word expands the Find and Replace dialog box. (See Figure 1.)
  5. Figure 1. The Replace tab of the Find and Replace dialog box.

  6. Enter the following in the Find What box: ^13[A-z 0-9]{1,}[!. ]
  7. Enter the following in the Replace With box: ^&
  8. With the insertion point in the Replace With box, press Ctrl+U.
  9. Make sure the Use Wildcards check box is selected.
  10. Using the Search drop-down list, chose Up. (You are at the end of the document and you want to search upwards through the document.)
  11. Click on Replace All.
  12. Close the Find and Replace dialog box.
  13. If you pressed Enter in step 1, you can get rid of that blank paragraph.

That's it. The search pattern you entered in step 4 indicates that you want to search for paragraph marks (^13) followed by any length combination of letters and digits ([A-z 0-9]{1,}), terminated by a period and two spaces ([!. ]). The exclamation mark means that the characters which follow should not exist in whatever is matched by the search.

All of this is then used in the Replace With, as the ^& combination means to use the "found" text as the replacement. This, however, is formatted with an underline.

Understand that steps 2 and 9 are very important. If you don't do the search from the bottom of the document toward the top, you won't get the desired results.

As presented above, the steps result in all the text before the period being underlined. If you prefer to have a different type of underline (such as underlining only the words), then in step 7 you should click the Format button, choose Font, and use the Underline drop-down list to specify the type of underline you desire.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (9077) 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: Formatting Partial Results of a Search.

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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