Find and Replace Tricks and Tips

The document in the video below shows some of the common formatting problems people have. The video demonstrates how to correct them using Microsoft Word’s Find-and-Replace feature.

Here’s what’s wrong.

First, in several places, two spaces are between words and at the end of sentences where there should only be one. If your Show/Hide button is on, you should be able to tell where these extra spaces occur. A space shows up as a little dot between words. If you have two little dots, you have two spaces. 

Second, the first lines of every paragraph have been tabbed over once to create a first line indent. This can pose a problem if you need to adjust the first line indentation of your document. If you’re publishing your document or have to follow formatting that requires certain margins and indentations, readjusting your manuscript paragraph by paragraph will be very tedious. 

Third, some of the paragraphs have a space at the beginning.

How do we fix these three issues with Find-and-Replace

Before you do anything else, do these two steps:
1. Turn on the Show/Hide feature. This will show all the spaces and formatting marks in the document.
2. Open up the Find-and-Replace function. The keyboard shortcut command for this is crtl-h

Change double spaces to single spaces: If you have a document that has a lot of random, double spaces throughout, the most efficient and thorough way to rid of these is to use the Find-and-Replace option. In the box that says “Find what,” enter two spaces. In the box that says “Replace with,” enter one space, and then click the Replace All button. Your unwanted double spaces will disappear and be replaced with single spaces. 

Remove tab spaces in front of paragraphs: To replace all the tabs at once, enter ^t in the “find what” box. (The caret mark is on the 6 key.) Leave the “replace with” box empty. Click Replace All. This removes the tabs and replaces them with nothing. 

Remove the spaces in front of the first line of the paragraphs: In the Find-and-Replace window, type ^p and a space in the “Find what” box. In the “Replace with” box, type ^p with no space. Click Replace All. All the spaces that were in front of the first lines of the paragraphs should now be gone. 

Set the correct indentation for your document: First, highlight the text you need to fix. Next, go up to your margin bar and move the top tab, the “first line indent” tab, over to the right. This will set the first line indent for your highlighted text. 

These are just a few of the things Find-and-Replace can do for you. To see what else you can find and replace, pull up the Find-and-Replace window, click More, and then click Special.

By Alina Padilla


Filed under Editing, Writing

3 responses to “Find and Replace Tricks and Tips

  1. mercadee

    Removing User Input Spaces when a user input some text to a text box, and you want this returned to a label, how do you get it to remove any spaces that the user puts in, and also, or, how could you convert any spaces the user inputs to an underscore?

  2. I believe that you are asking about web programming, about converting text typed into an on-line form. Unfortunately, this is not my specialty. Perhaps another visitor can assist you.

  3. This is really useful, thank you! I had forgotten the shortcut for removing tabs so I Googled it and found your page. Thanks.

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