Replacements Use an Incorrect Foreign Language Character

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated May 8, 2021)
This tip applies to Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Microsoft 365


In a document that Jennifer is editing, the author inserted a degree symbol for every date of birth cited in a manuscript. Jennifer would like to replace that degree symbol with a lowercase "b." However, when she tries to do this, every degree symbol becomes the German letter Eszett or "sharp S" character.

This is, likely, a font-related issue. The easiest way to check this out is to select the degree symbol (obviously before replacing) and see what font it is. It probably is the Symbol font, which is a common font when adding special characters such as a degree symbol. This means that when you do the replacement, Word changes the degree symbol to the lowercase "b," but it doesn't change the font. Thus, you see the foreign character you don't want.

There are two possible solutions. Personally, I prefer to select the degree symbol (before the replacement) or the foreign character (after the replacement) and press Ctrl+Spacebar. This returns the character to whatever the underlying font is for the paragraph in which the character is located.

Recognizing that this might be quite tedious if you have a lot of degree signs you need to replace, you can specify the font during the replacement operation. Simply look at what the font is that is used for characters around the degree sign. This will probably be a font such as Myriad Pro or Calibri. Now do these steps:

  1. Press Ctrl+H. Word displays the Replace tab of the Find and Replace dialog box.
  2. In the Find What box, put your degree symbol.
  3. In the Replace With box, put your lowercase "b."
  4. With the insertion point still in the Replace With box, click on Format, then Font. Word displays the Replace Font dialog box. (You may need to click on the More button before you can see the Format button.)
  5. Use the controls in the dialog box to specify the font you want used for your lowercase "b," such as Myriad Pro or Calibri.
  6. Click on OK to close the Replace Font dialog box.
  7. Click on Replace All.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (13855) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Microsoft 365.

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 seven more than 4?

2021-05-16 09:52:26

Tomek Dluzniewski

Susan: Try "WBC" (all upper case) to be replaced by all lower case (or whatever capitalization you want) "white blood cell". Make sure to check "Match case" box. You may also want to check "Find whole words only", although in this case it is unlikely that you will have WBC as part of a word.

I tested this on Word from MS365 Family under Win 10, so if you have earlier version of Word it may behave differently. Let me know if it doesn't work and I will try to create a macro for you (my e-mail is unhidden).

Also, in February, Allen has posted a tip "Controlling Case in Find and Replace". in which he has another neat trick to do what you need. When searching for this tip on Allen's site make sure you include the title in quotation marks, otherwise you will get too many hits.

2021-05-15 18:29:25


Hi Allen,

Thank you for the great tip. I had a similar issue with a slight variation.

I wanted to replace an acronym (upper case letters) used throughout a document with the definition (all lower case); as an example, replace "WBC" with "white blood cell."

When I use the Find and Replace options, the replaced text was always all upper case ("WHITE BLOOD CELL") even if I entered settings in the Format Font window.

Any suggestions for dealing with this issue would be appreciated. (As a workaround, I just copied and pasted the definition over the acronym.)

Thank you,

2021-05-09 00:06:56

Tomek Dluzniewski

I think the letter Jennifer saw was not German Eszett (ß) but lower case Greek letter beta (β), which looks similiar. Beta in Symbol font actually has the same code as lower case b.

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