Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Microsoft 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 Special Hyphens.

Searching for Special Hyphens

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated August 8, 2020)
This tip applies to Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Microsoft 365


Word allows you to search not just for text, but also for special characters that normally do not print. Two such characters are special types of hyphens used by Word. You can search either for optional hyphens (these are typically inserted by the Hyphenation tool) or for non-breaking hyphens. To search for these characters, follow these steps if you are using Word 2007:

  1. Press Ctrl+F. Word displays the Find tab of the Find and Replace dialog box.
  2. In the Find What box, enter the text for which you want to search. To search for an optional hyphen, enter ^-; to search for a non-breaking hyphen, enter ^~ (a tilde character). Optionally, you can specify the actual character by clicking on the Special button and selecting the type of hyphen from the list of special characters. (You may need to click on the More button before you can see the Special button.)
  3. Set other searching parameters, as desired.
  4. Click on Find Next.

If you are using Word 2010 or a later version, pressing Ctrl+F brings up the Navigation pane at the left side of the screen. You can still type any of the special character codes (step 2) into the Navigation pane and Word will highlight their location just fine in your document.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (9356) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Microsoft 365. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Searching for Special Hyphens.

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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