Replacing Highlighted Words

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated September 10, 2022)
This tip applies to Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Word in Microsoft 365, and 2021


1

David has a number of Word documents where the essential words have been highlighted using the yellow "text highlight color." What he needs to do is replace all the highlighted words with an underlined version of the same word with a font size change and also remove the highlight color, all at the same time. David wonders if there is a way to accomplish this task.

Yes, the Find and Replace feature in Word is powerful enough to do this all in a single pass. Before doing so, however, you may want to save your document just in case something goes wrong during the replacing operation. Once that is done, here are the steps you need to follow:

  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. The insertion point should be blinking in the Find What box, which should be empty. (See Figure 1.)
  4. Figure 1. The Replace tab of the expanded Find and Replace dialog box.

  5. Click the No Formatting button, if it is available.
  6. Click the Format button and choose Highlight. The word "Highlight" appears under the Find What box.
  7. Click in the Replace With box and make sure it is empty.
  8. Click the Format button and choose Highlight. The word "Highlight" appears under the Replace With box.
  9. Click the Format button and choose Highlight a second time. The word "Highlight" changes to "Not Highlight."
  10. Click the Format button and choose Font. Word displays the Font tab of the Replace Font dialog box.
  11. Use the controls in the dialog box to choose the desired font size and underline.
  12. Click OK to close the Replace Font dialog box.
  13. Click Replace All.

There is a variation on the above steps that you can also use, if desired:

  1. If you are using Word 2007, press Ctrl+F. Word displays the Find tab of the Find and Replace dialog box. If you are using a later version of Word, press Ctrl+H to display the Find and Replace dialog box, then click the Find tab.
  2. Click the More button, if it is available.
  3. Make sure the Find What box is empty.
  4. Click the No Formatting button, if it is available.
  5. Click the Format button and choose Highlight. The word "Highlight" appears under the Find What box.
  6. Click the Find In drop-down list and choose Main Document. Word selects all instances of highlighted text in the document.
  7. Click Close. Everything that is highlighted should still be selected in the document.
  8. Use the tools on the Home tab of the ribbon to select a font, font size, and underline. All of the selected words are formatted according to your choices.
  9. Using the Highlight tool on the Home tab of the ribbon, clear the highlighting.

Note that it is important to do step 9 last, as clearing the highlighting "unselects" all the words that were selected in step 6. Interestingly, doing the other formatting changes (step 8) doesn't unselect the words.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (13411) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Word in Microsoft 365, and 2021.

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 one less than 8?

2022-11-29 05:22:14

Kirill

Hello Allen,

Thank you for all the tips! I would also like to know how to replace with a highlight? In particular, I often get documents in which I have to hide text highlighted with yellow color across several pages in different places. I tried to do it in a find/replace window by ticking a hidden attribute in the text formatting, but when I click replace or replace all it becomes hidden though unhighlighted. No matter if I put Highlight, Not Highlight or leave this attribute empty in the Replace With box. Thanks!


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