Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007 and 2010. 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: Changing the Format of Existing Dates.

Changing the Format of Existing Dates

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated October 14, 2016)


Aileen works with a lot of documents that have the date in a numeric format, such as 9/22/12. She needs to convert these dates to a different format, specifically September 22, 2012. She wonders if there is an easy way to make the change without needing to retype each date.

The answer depends, in large part, on the nature of the date you are changing. Dates in a Word document can either be straight text or a field. You can tell if the date is a field by simply moving the insertion point somewhere inside the date. If it is a field, then the entire date should be shaded in light gray once the insertion point is within the date.

If the date is a field, then you can right-click on the date and choose Edit Field from the resulting Context menu. You can then modify the field, including selecting a different date format in the Field Properties list.

If the date is regular text (not a field), then you need to look to a different solution. It is possible to go through the document and manually retype all the dates, but Aileen already found out that such an approach is tedious. This is where a macro can come in handy: to cure the tedium by programmatically doing what you would otherwise do by hand.

The following macro will step through a document, searching for all dates in the format m/d/yyyy. (There can be either one or two digits for either the month or day, but must be four digits for the year.) If a date matching this pattern is found, it is converted to the format mmmm d, yyyy.

Sub GetDateAndReplace()
    Dim FoundOne As Boolean

    Selection.HomeKey Unit:=wdStory, Extend:=wdMove
    FoundOne = True ' loop at least once

    Do While FoundOne ' loop until no date is found
        With Selection.Find
            .Text = "([0-9]{1,2})[/]([0-9]{1,2})[/]([0-9]{4})"
            .Format = True
            .Forward = True
            .MatchWildcards = True
        End With

        Selection.Find.Execute Replace:=wdReplaceNone

        ' check the find to be sure it's a date
        If IsDate(Selection.Text) Then
            Selection.Text = Format(Selection.Text, "mmmm d, yyyy")
            Selection.Collapse wdCollapseEnd
        Else ' not a date - end loop
            FoundOne = False
        End If
End Sub

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (12197) applies to Microsoft Word 2007 and 2010. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Changing the Format of Existing Dates.

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 5 + 9?

2018-01-11 04:33:11

Rob B

This is a brilliant macro, thanks.
It would help, though, if you could also explain the Pattern Match instructions steps, which seem quite complex.

Also, how does one convert dates like December 7, 2013 to 7 December 2013?

2017-02-04 00:37:25


I need to convert dates like December 7, 2013 to 20131207.

2017-02-04 00:36:00


I have the opposite problem. I need to convert dates like Deceember 7, 2013 to 20121207.

2016-02-12 17:10:36


Thanks, this worked great!

One potential problem - it stops completely if it runs into a date format that is not a date. It freezes for review, but I can't get it to resume unless I delete or reformat the culprit (such as 15/92/82). I don't anticipate running into this often, if ever, but I want to be prepared. Any suggestions? Maybe a prompt box to move to next?

I also changed:

.Text = "([0-9]{1,2})[/]([0-9]{1,2})[/]([0-9]{4})"


.Text = "([0-9]{1,2})[/]([0-9]{1,2})[/]([0-9]{2,4})"

in case a document has a dd/mm/yyyy format or a mix of dd/mm/yy and dd/mm/yyyy. Worked like a charm! :)

2015-07-07 14:10:29

Terry Pennell

In Word 2007, this Sub returned an error message. "The Find What text contains a Pattern Match expression which is not valid."

The routine ran without error and produced the intended results after I replaced the following line:

.Text = "([0-9]{1,2})[/]([0-9]{1,2})[/]([0-9]{4})"

With the following line:

.Text = "(<*>)/(<*>)/(<*>)"

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