Replacing and Renumbering

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated August 12, 2023)
This tip applies to Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, Word in Microsoft 365, and 2021


1

Don has a need to both replace and renumber at the same time. For instance, he has a transcript that contains dialogue. Each statement by "John" starts with his name followed by "XX:", so it looks like this: "JohnXX:". Don would like to replace the first instance of "JohnXX:" with "John001:", the second with "John002:", the third with "John003:", and so on. He wonders if there is a way to do this with Find and Replace.

Perhaps the easiest way to do this is to set up a SEQ field that can do the counting for you. Follow these steps:

  1. Someplace in your document, press Ctrl+F9 to create a set of empty field braces.
  2. Make sure the insertion point is between the field braces.
  3. Type the following between the braces: SEQ John \# "'John'000\:" This is how the field should look:
  4.      { SEQ John \# "'John'000\:" }
    
  5. Press F9 to collapse the field. Word should replace the field with "John001:" (without the quote marks).
  6. Select the field and press Ctrl+X. This removes the field from your document and saves it in the Clipboard.
  7. Press Ctrl+H. Word displays the Replace tab of the Find and Replace dialog box.
  8. In the Find What box, enter what you are search for (JohnXX:).
  9. Click the More button, if it is available.
  10. Make sure the Match Case check box is selected.
  11. In the Replace With box, enter ^c. This informs Word you want to replace whatever is found with the contents of the Clipboard. (See Figure 1.)
  12. Figure 1. Getting ready to do a replacement.

  13. Click Replace All.

When you do this, what you should notice is that your document now has all the JohnXX: text replaced with John001: text. In order to see the right count, you need to update all the fields. The easiest way to do this is to press Ctrl+A (to select the entire document) and then press F9 (to update all the fields).

It helps to understand one thing about your field code, used in step 3. Note that right after the SEQ code there is the word "John." This is actually used as the name for the numbering sequence you are setting up. This could be any other word you want, if you prefer; it is up to you. It also means that you can set up other numbering sequences in your document, if you desire.

For instance, let's say that the transcript is actually a dialog between John and Fred. If all of John's statements start with "JohnXX:", then the above steps would only affect John's statements. Assuming that Fred's statements similarly start with "FredXX:", you could use the same series of steps, but all you would need to do is change the field code in step 3 to this:

{ SEQ Fred \# "'Fred'000\:" }

Further, you would need to change what you are searching for (in step 7) to the prefix used for Fred's transcript statements.

When you are done with all of your finding and replacing, you can, if desired, take the extra step of "unlinking" the fields, which simply means permanently replacing them with their computed value. To do this, simply press Ctrl+A (to again select the entire document) and then press Ctrl+Shift+F9 (to unlink all the fields). Note that you won't want to take this unlinking step if you may need to alter the order of the paragraphs at some future point.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (13424) 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?

2023-08-12 10:38:36

Brian Lair

Great tip! I didn’t know about the ability to have multiple, independent SEQuences. Plus, your added “ you can, if desired, take the extra step…” is a good example of why I like these tips columns in general: You don’t just answer the questions; you put yourself in the users’ shoes and address “what other questions might arise from this one?” Thanks, Allen.


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