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: Searching for Optional Hyphens.

Searching for Optional Hyphens

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated June 27, 2019)

Optional hyphens are used within a document to indicate a place where a word can be hyphenated, if necessary. If it is not necessary, then the word is not hyphenated at the point of the optional hyphen. These special characters are manually created by pressing Ctrl+- (Ctrl and the hyphen key). They are also inserted by using the Hyphenation tool within Word.

At some point you may want to search for optional hyphens within your document. For instance, you may want to delete them or replace them with some other character, such as a real hyphen. To search for optional hyphens, follow these steps:

  1. Display the Find tab of the Find and Replace dialog box. (In Word 2007 just press Ctrl+F. In Word 2010 and Word 2013 press Ctrl+F to display the Navigation pane, then click the down arrow at the very right of the Search box in the Navigation pane, and finally choose Advanced Find.)
  2. In the Find What box (See Figure 1.) , enter ^-. Optionally, you can specify the actual character by clicking on the Special button and selecting Optional Hyphen from the list of special characters. (You may need to click on the More button before you can see the Special button.)
  3. Figure 1. The Find tab of the Find and Replace dialog box.

  4. Set other searching parameters, as desired.
  5. Click on Find Next.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (12934) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, and 2013. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Searching for Optional 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. ...

MORE FROM ALLEN

Sorting an Album List

Word allows you to easily sort the information you store in a document. If you want to sort information as groups of ...

Discover More

Understanding Default Insert Date Formatting

Insert a date into Word, and you are presented with a variety of formats you can choose from for that date. The default ...

Discover More

Typing Pronunciations of Words

Take a look in a dictionary at the way that words are phonetically spelled. Those special characters used to type those ...

Discover More

Comprehensive VBA Guide Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) is the language used for writing macros in all Office programs. This complete guide shows both professionals and novices how to master VBA in order to customize the entire Office suite for their needs. Check out Mastering VBA for Office 2010 today!

More WordTips (ribbon)

When Replace Doesn't Work

Find and Replace is a great tool, but what are you to do if your find or replace doesn't work as you expect? This tip ...

Discover More

Searching for Footnote and Endnote Marks

Do you want to quickly search for any footnote or endnote marks in your document? Word makes it easy using the standard ...

Discover More

Keyboard Control of the Find and Replace Dialog Box

Hate to take your hands off the keyboard? This tip explains how you can use the keyboard to work with the Find and ...

Discover More
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WordTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.

Comments

If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is eight more than 5?

There are currently no comments for this tip. (Be the first to leave your comment—just use the simple form above!)


This Site

Got a version of Word that uses the ribbon interface (Word 2007 or later)? This site is for you! If you use an earlier version of Word, visit our WordTips site focusing on the menu interface.

Newest Tips
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WordTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.