Time saver

How to find and replace text in Word

If you're working with a lot of text in a Word document, and there's a mistake, you can use Replace feature to find and replace text quickly.

Word find and replace text

In Microsoft Word, the ability to find and replace text option can come in handy a many situations. For example, if you’re working with a document with a lot of text, and you discovered that there’s a mistake on a name, date, or address, which appears multiple times, or the wrong word or phrase was used throughout the document.

The “Replace” option is available on Microsoft 365 (Office 365), Office 2019, Office 2016, and older versions, and in all versions, the feature includes advanced options to narrow down the text that you’re trying to correct.

In this guide, you’ll learn the steps to find and replace a word or phrase in a Microsoft Word document.

How to find and replace text in Word

To find and replace text in Microsoft Word, use these steps:

  1. Open Word.

  2. Click on the Home tab.

  3. Under the “Editing” section, click the Replace button.

    Microsoft Word Replace option
    Microsoft Word Replace option
    Quick tip: You can also use the Ctrl + H keyboard shortcut to open Replace. Also, if you’re using the search feature in Word, you can click the down-arrow menu, next to Search button, to open the content menu to find the Replace option.
  4. In the “Find what” box, specify the word or phrase you want to find and replace.

  5. In the “Replace with” box, specify the word or phrase replacement.

    Find and replace text in Word
    Find and replace text in Word
  6. Click the Find Next button to find the first mention of the text in the Find what box.

    Quick tip: If you only want to replace text on a specific area, click the Find Next button until you arrive to the text to be replaced.
  7. Click the Replace button to replace the currently highlighted content in the Word document.

    Replace text in Word
    Replace text in Word
  8. (Optional) Click the Replace All button to replace all mentions of the text across the document at once.

  9. Click the Cancel button.

Once you complete the steps, the text will be edited with the content you specified.

If you’re using the Replace All button, remember that this option will replace all instances of the text, and many times, it could cause problems. For example, if the word you’re trying to replace is part of another word, such as “auto” and “automatically,” it’ll also get replaced. As a result, using the Find Next and Replace buttons are the best way to replace text in Microsoft Word.

However, in this particular case, you can use the advanced search option, and selecting the Find whole words only will prevent replacing the wrong word.

How to find and replace text using advanced options in Word

To perform an advanced search and replace in Word, use these steps:

  1. Open Word.

  2. Click on the Home tab.

  3. Under the “Editing” section, click the Replace button.

    Microsoft Word Replace option
    Microsoft Word Replace option
  4. In the “Find what” box, specify the word or phrase you want to find and replace.

  5. In the “Replace with” box, specify the word or phrase replacement.

  6. Click the More button.

    Replace search options button
    Replace search options button
  7. Under the “Search options” section, choose the appropriate search parameters:

    Replace advanced search options
    Replace advanced search options
    • Search — specifies where to search. Options include, All (recommended), Up or Down.
    • Match case — specifies a search that treats cases, such as Car and car as different words.
    • Find whole words only — finds the whole word, so you don’t replace “automatically” when you’re looking for “auto” only.
    • Use wildcards — allows to find and replace parts of text with (*) wildcard. For instance, you can remove all “s” from words using the “*s” query.
  8. Click the Find Next button to find the first mention of the text in the “Find what” box.

  9. Click the Replace button to replace the currently highlighted content in the Word document.

These are the most common search options, but Microsoft Word also includes a few other options, including “Sounds like (English),” “Find all word forms (English),” “Match prefix,” “Match suffix,”  “Ignore punctuation characters,” and “Ignore white-space characters.”