Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2016. 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: When Replace Doesn't Work.

When Replace Doesn't Work

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated February 3, 2021)

5

When you try to replace text in your document using Find and Replace, things may not always work as you would expect. If they don't, check these factors:

  • Have you made a selection of text? If so, the replace operation will work only within that selection.
  • Have you cleared the formatting? (Unless the formatting is necessary for what you are trying to do.)
  • Is Track Changes turned on? (Some functions using wildcards don't work as expected if Track Changes is on.)
  • Did you spell the Find What and Replace With text correctly?
  • Are there special characters in what you are looking for? (If so, you'll want to make sure you enter the special characters properly.)
  • Are the search modifiers (match case and whole word) selected properly?

If these factors are set properly and it still doesn't work properly, then you should exit Word and restart the program. You will then be able to perform the replace anew, with Word in a "fresh" condition.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (11097) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, and 2016. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: When Replace Doesn't Work.

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 three less than 9?

2021-11-21 03:42:32

Paul Naudé

Hi,
I found a specific symbol that Word doesn't replace. It let's you enter it in the WITH field, however, it doesn't replace the target with the provided symbol, it simply acts as if it did and leave the original symbol. This worked in earlier Word versions I am sure since then it was just a simple find replace operation and we were done but now Word just does nothing to the targets.

Now to be honest, the reason I need this to work is because in my home language, we all simply use the closest match on the US keyboards but publishers and language purist expect this to be done correctly and use the correct one (which is much more obvious in Times New Roman and not so much in modern fonts).

The characters in question? The ' which is on a US keyboard directly left of the ENTER key (on the same key as ") and the symbol you get when typing ALT+0146 : ’
i.e. FIND ' and replace with ’.
Still can't see the difference? Well neither does normal people and apparently Word, but let me type them next to one another: ' ’
It subtle, but is there and as I said it much more obvious in Times New Roman which is used in novels.

Is there any other way to find and replace as a work around (while keeping all paragraph formatting!)

Regards


2021-07-16 15:05:27

Dean

Iris is correct, when I try to replace upper with lower - that is, all occurrences of Nominative with nominative, it says it makes 206 replacements, yet none of them really change. In order to get it to really make the change, I have to click the "Match Case" box. This seems counter-intuitive; I thought that box only applied to what I was searching for, not to what I was changing to?


2018-09-14 15:58:05

scott Larson

I appreciate that it takes time and effort to provide help with computer programs. I also appreciate nothing is free. However, the low level of technical "meat" (more like common sense) and the high level of advertising makes this site is not useful to me. My find command works but my replace command does not. Thank you.


2016-10-03 16:23:24

Caran

Iris, Have you checked that the capital letters aren't being formatted as all caps format with caps lock on? I've run in to something similar before. One thing in particular we were told to do was to use Shift+F3 to change the case of a letter instead of using caps lock (?), I don't remember for sure. Maybe that would have been the solution.


2016-09-30 04:10:25

Iris Wood

I always use find and replace and use formatting and never highlight the text. It is a very important tool but didn't work after Office was reinstalled by windows. It did not fix itself after restarting on many occasions. I did the doc I wanted by hand and have tried other dos but doesn't work. Mine was a capital letter that was sent to me in a draft. It kept showing 13 replacements but it was always the same. Even when I did it by hand and made most changes it still said it had made 13 changes. In the last few days I have had lots of downloads but no fixes. 30 Sep 2016


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