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Search and Replace Specific Formatting (fonts, styles,etc) in Microsoft Word

If you’ve ever worked on a document originally created by somebody else, you’ll most likely immediately be frustrated by their horrible choice of fonts and formatting. What you might not realize is that the search and replace functionality in Word allows you to replace more than just text.

You can easily search and replace all bolded or italicized text in a document, for instance. Or you could remove that ugly Heading 2 style they used… what were they thinking using bright red?

Open up the Find and Replace dialog from the menus, or just use the Ctrl+H keyboard shortcut.

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Click in the blank Find box, and then you can use the regular keyboard shortcuts to specify specific formatting. For instance, if you wanted to replace all bolded text with regular text, you’d use Ctrl+B in the “Find what” box, or for italics you would use Ctrl+I. You can even use multiple search criteria here.

If you have styles that are more difficult to replace with simple keyboard shortcuts, you can click the “More” button on the lower left-hand side to show a lot more options.

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The “Format” dropdown will give you access to select specific formatting options, like fonts or styles. Just make sure that you first click in the “Find what” box before you select an option.

For the “Replace with”, you’ll need to click in that box first, and then select the options that you want just the same.

Lowell Heddings, better known online as the How-To Geek, spends all his free time bringing you fresh geekery on a daily basis. You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 01/30/08

Comments (21)

  1. Smashpmk712

    You have once again outdone yourself with a very good article. You always find the things that we would need most but never look up ourselves

  2. Pipo

    hi,
    i noticed your screen shots are on windows vista , does this trick also work on word 2003? :)

  3. JaimeZX

    Yes, it also works on W2K3.
    Now if only there were an easy way to get rid of ALL CAPS!

  4. teken

    Great article. I grapple with removing hard returns from e-mails for printing, daily.
    What do I do?

  5. Jeremy

    Good article. Just two comments:

    1) If you need to do a subscript/superscript change (eg, change the 2 in H2O to a subscript) you can either write a macro or (super-secret tip!) find the first occurrence, change the 2 to subscript, highlight the formatted text and press Ctrl+C (copy). Then, in the find/replace dialog, put H2O in find and “ctrl+c” in replace. This will take the text from the clipboard and “paste” it over all occurrences of H2O. The only downside is that the original formatting (e.g., bold or different font) is not maintained (I think you’ll need a macro for that.)

    2) If you don’t like their use of Header 2, wouldn’t it simply be better to reformat Header 2 instead of using find/replace?

    @JaimeZX: Not sure if you’re trying to search for and replace ALL CAPS, but if it’s a small amount of text, you can use Format>>Change Case… This won’t however do a find/replace, it only changes your highlighted text.

  6. Rebecca

    I notice that my drop down box does not contain the extended styles for customized formatting. What if I want to replace a custom style with a different, yet custom style? Any tips for making such happen?

    @Jeremy
    &
    @JaimeZX: I have found choosing a style and selecting all text of that style (right click the style name) to be an easy way to highlight a large amount of ALL CAP text and changing case at once. However, I can’t fiugre out how to get the TitleCase options to ignore words like ‘and’ ‘the’, etc. For this, I have written a macro using find and replace wildcards – works nicely.

  7. Lawrence

    Does this find and replace trick also work with Word 2002? I need to replace all italics with bold in a document. Thanks.

  8. Haupia

    I want to know how to keep the Specific Formatting off. I have to keep selecting No Formatting when I have to search through a 300+ page document for simply the words/phrases.

  9. Margaret

    I have Microsoft Office 2007 and I used to be able to save and print text that had been highlighted. I can no longer do so. My antispyware program detects no virus in my computer but something is going on. Please help!!

  10. Lorita

    my letters are so small and the picture is not big and it doesn’t cover all the way

  11. Thien Ly

    Hi all,
    I want to use wildcards to search (and replace) fonts item. How can I do? Please help. Thanks

  12. همسااات

    I want to know the use of every option in find and replace in search option in microsoft word.
    please quickly………………

  13. Yacoub

    Thanks, it really helps, BUT how to get the same thing in PowerPoint, I’m using PPT 2003, and you know what, this is more important in PowerPoint as changing styles is really cumbersome!

  14. Joel

    Hey, I have text were all footnote references have lost their superscript formatting. I want to create a macro in Word 2003 that will select all the references and superscript them. I was able to acomplish this using Find/Replace, but when I tried to record these actions into a macro, I failed completely :(

  15. Kate

    OMG. I love you. Had to have examples in a different font in a document I’m writing at work. Had changed 594 manually when my boss decided a different font woudl be better. You have saved me crying/screaming/quitting my job. Thanks!!

  16. tondepot

    Smart tip – Just what I was looking for

  17. Perry

    What I need is to replace one piece of text that has a mixture of normal and bold with another piece that has mixed formatting. The Find & Replace function assumes all your text is the same (all bold, all normal, etc).

  18. James Monohan

    I would *love* to find this advanced Find and Replace functionality in an application other than Microsoft Word. Do you know any free applications out there that might do the trick?

  19. Malcolm

    Without writing a macro, is it possible to find text that is not in a given font, e.g. any text that is not in Arial? I am using Office 2003.

  20. Pritam Singh

    Under ‘Edit” click ‘Find’ and in Search Option ‘ More’ , Click Format and select the Font of your document. Try it, it should work. Cheers!

  21. Martin

    There is a better way to find and replace fonts and styles in Word 2003.

    To the left of the font selector box, there is another dropdown box containing a list of styles. Scroll down to the bottom of this list and click on “More…”.

    This will bring up a sidebar with all the available styles. At the bottom of the sidebar is a dropdown box titled “Show:”. Change this dropdown box so that it shows “Formatting in use”. This will display all formats currently used in the document.

    You can then click the arrow to the right of the individual styles and “Select all instances” of that particular style. Then to change the formatting, just click on the style you want! Or create a new style using the “New Style” button.

    Hope this helps.

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