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 Tabs.

Searching for Tabs

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated August 3, 2019)

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Word allows you to search not just for text, but also for special characters which normally do not print. If you are working with documents that use tabular material, you will find yourself searching for tab characters quite a bit. To search for tabs, 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. (See Figure 1.)
  2. Figure 1. The Find tab of the Find and Replace dialog box.

  3. In the Find What box, enter the text for which you want to search. To search for a tab character, enter ^t (it is important to use a lowercase t).
  4. Set other searching parameters, as desired.
  5. Click on Find Next.

In Word 2010 or a later version, pressing Ctrl+F (step 1) doesn't display the Find and Replace dialog box directly. Instead, it displays the Navigation pane at the left side of your document. You could, if desired, enter the ^t characters into the Search box of the Navigation pane, but you won't be able to set any additional searching parameters. To do this you must display the Find and Replace dialog box. Do this from the Navigation pane by clicking the down-arrow at the very right of the Search box and choose Advanced Find from the resulting options.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (9449) 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 Tabs.

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 two less than 7?

2021-03-27 06:52:45

Wayne Simmes

I have tried to find tabs by using the ^t and word never finds them but when I carefully go through 70,000 words there they are. What am I doing wrong?


2019-08-03 12:11:41

MIchael Armstrong

OK, where are ALL these funny characters defined?


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