Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Office 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 Special Characters.
by Allen Wyatt
(last updated May 16, 2020)
Word allows you to search not just for text, but also for special characters that 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 2010 or a later version:
Often, you will be searching for other special characters such as breaks and paragraph marks. It can be faster to remember these and type them in rather than looking them up all of the time. The following is a list of the more common special characters:
|Manual Page Break||^m|
You can also use many of these same special characters in the Replace With box when doing a search and replace operation. You cannot, however, use the special white space character (^w) in the Replace With box.
If you are using Word 2007 or you cannot remember what code to use for the special character you want to find, it is best to bypass the Navigation task pane (if you are using Word 2010 or a later version) and instead display the Find tab of the Find and Replace dialog box. You do this by following these steps:
Figure 1. The expanded Find tab of the Find and Replace dialog box.
In addition, Word allows you to search for any character as long as you know its ASCII value. (You can find ASCII values for characters in the back of many programming books.) All you need to do is use the caret, followed by a zero and then the three-digit value of the character. For instance, if you wanted to search for a capital A, whose ASCII value is 65, you would use ^0065 as your search string.
WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (13217) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Office 365. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Searching for Special Characters.
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