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: Replacing a Colon in a Sequence.

Replacing a Colon in a Sequence

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated November 14, 2020)
This tip applies to Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Microsoft 365


Anthony wants to use Find and Replace to change a right parenthesis followed by a colon and a digit to a right parenthesis followed by a comma and the letters pp. For instance, "):27" should be changed to "), pp. 27".

One might think that you could simply search for a right parenthesis followed by a colon and replace it with "), pp. ", but that won't work. Actually, it will work, but it might work too well—there could be instances where you have a grammatically correct right parenthesis followed by a colon that you don't want replaced. As mentioned, you only want to replace instances where the colon is followed by a page number.

The best way to do this is through the use of a wildcard search. Follow these steps:

  1. Press Ctrl+H to display the Replace tab of the Find and Replace dialog box.
  2. Click the More button, if it is available.
  3. Make sure the Use Wildcards radio button or check box is selected.
  4. With the insertion point in the Find What box, click No Formatting (if it is available) and enter the following: (\):)([0-9]{1,3})
  5. In the Replace With box, click No Formatting (if it is available) and enter the following: ), pp. \2
  6. Click Replace All.

Step 4 is the important part; it defines what you want Word to find. In this case you want to find a right parenthesis, indicated by \), followed by a colon and anywhere from 1 to 3 digits. Note that in the Find What pattern there are parentheses around two separate groups of items: around the right parenthesis and colon and around the digits. The second of these groupings (the digits) are referenced in the Replace With pattern with the \2 element.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (13204) 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: Replacing a Colon in a Sequence.

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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