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: Adding Hyphens to Phrases.

Adding Hyphens to Phrases

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated January 3, 2017)

Evelyn is looking for a way to add hyphens to phrases that were originally typed in without the hyphens. For instance, if the phrase "we are having a bigger and better than ever sale this week" is typed in, Evelyn may want it to instead read "we are having a bigger-and-better-than-ever sale this week." The hyphens that denote the phrase need to replace all the spaces that were previously between the words in the phrase.

The quickest solution is to simply select the words in the phrase (bigger and better than ever) and use Find and Replace to replace all the spaces with dashes. Of course, this involves several steps, and if you face this scenario quite often, you should consider a macro to do the actual replacing. The following macro, for instance, will automate the task:

Sub MakePhrase()
    If Selection.Type <> wdSelectionIP Then
        Selection.Find.ClearFormatting
        Selection.Find.Replacement.ClearFormatting
        With Selection.Find
            .Text = " "
            .Replacement.Text = "-"
            .Forward = True
            .Wrap = wdFindStop
            .Format = False
            .MatchCase = False
            .MatchWholeWord = False
            .MatchWildcards = False
            .MatchSoundsLike = False
            .MatchAllWordForms = False
        End With
        Selection.Find.Execute Replace:=wdReplaceAll
    End If
End Sub

The macro first checks to make sure that a selection has been made. If so, then all the spaces in the selection are replaced with dashes. To make the macro handier, simply assign it to a shortcut key. Then, when you need to hyphenate a phrase, simply select the words and press the shortcut key.

Note:

If you would like to know how to use the macros described on this page (or on any other page on the WordTips sites), I've prepared a special page that includes helpful information. Click here to open that special page in a new browser tab.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (9173) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, and 2013. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Adding Hyphens to Phrases.

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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