Updated April 2023
The Find and Replace function in Microsoft Word and Google Docs searches a complete document (or a specified section of a document) for a specified search string and replaces that string with a specified replacement. This tool makes it possible to make the same change multiple times across the document for formatting consistency, spelling, and other corrections.
How To Find and Replace in Microsoft Word
Microsoft Word’s Find and Replace function is a potent tool that allows you to change your documents quickly. Here’s how to use Find and Replace in Word.
Step 1: Open “Find and Replace”
Where is Find and Replace in Word? There are two ways to access the “Find and Replace” in Word – from the Navigation Ribbon and using a keyboard shortcut.
Navigation Ribbon: Click on “Home” in the Navigation Ribbon to access your main document tools. From the Home menu, click on “Editing” to expand the Editing menu. In the Editing menu, you’ll see four options – “Find”, “Advanced Find”, “Go To”, or “Replace”. Choosing the right one upfront can save you a couple of clicks in the process.
- Find – The Find function locates every instance of a specified word or phrase throughout your document.
- Advanced Find – The Advanced Find function takes you to the Find menu, with the advanced options expanded.
- Go To – The Go To function allows you to enter a specific document property, such as page, line number, or field, and navigate directly to that point in the document.
- Find and Replace – The Find and Replace function searches the entire document for every instance of a specified word or phrase and replaces it with another specified word or phrase.
Click “Find and Replace.”
Pro Tip: You can access the Home menu via a keyboard shortcut. Press Ctrl + H to go directly to the home menu in the navigation ribbon.
Keyboard Shortcut: You can open Find and Replace in Word with a shortcut. Press Ctrl + F to go to the Find menu, click on the magnifying glass, and select “Replace” to open the Find and Replace menu.
Step 2: Find
In the box labeled “Find what:” enter the word, phrase, or punctuation you want to replace. Then, in the box labeled “Replace with:”, enter the word, phrase, or punctuation you want to replace it with.
Pro Tip: Click “More” to expand the Search Options menu. Select desired advanced options.
Step 3: Replace
Click the “Replace” button to begin the Find and Replace process. Microsoft Word highlights the first instance of the specified word or phrase.
Click “Replace” to replace that instance with the replacement phrase and move on to the next instance. Click “Find Next” to skip to the next instance without replacing it. Click “Replace All” to replace every instance with the replacement phrase at once.
These advanced options allow you to power up your Find and Replace capabilities.
Match case will only replace words capitalized the same as the search term.
Find whole words only
This option will only replace whole words that match the search term. For example, replacing every instance of “one” with “two” without changing “someone” to “sometwo.”
Using wildcard characters allows you to expand your matches. For example, the search term “sta*” will replace every word that begins with “sta,” including “star,” “stage,” “staple,” and “standard.”
Sounds like (English)
This option will replace every word that sounds like the specified search term. For example, “there” will also return “their” and “they’re”.
Find all word forms (English)
This option will find every verb tense of the specified verb, such as “run,” “running”, and “ran”.
Match prefix and match suffix combine with other advanced settings to find all words with a matching prefix or suffix.
Ignore punctuation / white-space characters
These options will ignore hyphenation, punctuation, and spaces when searching. For example, searching for “home school” will also return “homeschool” and “home-school”.
Replace Format / Special / No Formatting
These options allow you to specify the formatting of the replacement word. For example, you could replace every instance of “car” with the word “car”.
How To Find and Replace in Google Docs
The Find and Replace function in Google Docs is even easier to use than the same function in Word. Here’s how to use Find and Replace in Google Docs.
Step 1: Open “Find and Replace”
There are two ways to access the Find and Replace menu in Google Docs.
Navigation Ribbon: In the ribbon at the top of the document, click “Edit”. At the bottom of the drop-down menu, click “Find and Replace”.
Keyboard Shortcut: You can open the Find and Replace menu using a keyboard shortcut. Press Ctrl + H to open the Find and Replace menu in Google Docs.
Step 2: Find
In the box labeled “Find”, enter the word, phrase, or punctuation that you want to replace. Google Docs will highlight every instance of that word or phrase.
Then, in the box labeled “Replace”, enter the word, phrase, or punctuation you want to replace it with.
Pro Tip: Select advanced options for a more powerful search experience.
Step 3: Replace
Click “Replace” to replace the specified word or phrase with the new word or phrase. Click “Replace All” to replace all instances at one time.
Click “Previous” to go back to the last highlighted instance of the word without replacing the current instance. Click “Next” to go to the next highlighted instance of the word without replacing the current instance.
Google Docs Find and Replace fewer search options than Microsoft Word 2010 Find and Replace. However, even with the limited options, you can craft a powerful custom search.
This option will only replace words that match the capitalization of the search term exactly.
Match Using Regular Expressions
This option will allow you to use regular expressions (advanced pattern matching) to locate different variations of a word or phrase. It requires special knowledge of regular expressions, but it is a very powerful search option.
Ignore Latin Diacritics
Selecting this option will ignore accents and other letter markings when searching. So, for example, you can find all instances of “touche” and “touché” without running separate searches.
Now You Know How To Enable And Use ‘Find And Replace’ In Word And Google Docs
Enjoy a faster workflow, less mistakes and happier colleagues and clients by delivering higher quality, error free documents every time. Red on to learn How to Track Changes in Word & Google Docs and How to Create a Dropdown in Google Sheets & Excel. Enjoy!