Word: Find highlighted text

January 25, 2010

Someone sends you a long Word document and asks you to check only the changes, which they’ve highlighted. You have limited time so you need to find those highlighted passages quickly.

Here are two ways you can quickly find highlighted text — use the one that best suits your way of working

Zoom in/out

Zoom out the view of the document and look for pages that contain highlighting, then click on a page and zoom back in again to view and edit the highlighted text.

You can go down to about 10 or 20% to see as many pages as possible without losing the ability to see the pages containing highlights.

To zoom in/out:

  • Word 2003: Select View > Zoom from the menu, then select or enter the percentage zoom you want.
  • Word 2007: Use the zoom slider at the bottom right of the Word window.

Here’s a few pages at 20% zoom — you can see the highlighted section easily:

A highlighted section shows easily at 20% zoom


The other way to find highlighted text is to use the Find function. Find is particularly handy if there’s a lot of highlighting, and you think you might miss some using the zoom function. It’s also handy for finding highlights you can’t see, such as those hiding behind empty paragraph marks or graphics. Both Word 2003 and 2007 work the same way:

  1. Press Ctrl+F to open the Find and Replace window.
  2. Click More.
  3. Click Format.
  4. Select Highlight.
  5. Highlight should be the only ‘find’ option. Click Find Next to find the next highlighted passage.


  1. Hi,
    These two tips are quite useful. Nevertheless, I’m looking for a solution in cases where my text is highlighted with more than one colour (say: yellow, red, and green) and I want to find only the instances of text which are highlighted in a certain colour (i.e., green only).

    Is this possible in MS Word 2007?

    Thanks in advance for your response/solution

  2. Hi Meni

    I fiddled around a bit with macros, but couldn’t seem to get anything to find a specific highlight color. However, there are some possible clues on these web pages:

    * http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/microsoft.office.tools.word.bookmark.highlightcolorindex%28VS.80%29.aspx

    * http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/aa172829%28office.11%29.aspx

    * http://blogs.technet.com/b/heyscriptingguy/archive/2006/07/14/how-can-i-search-for-and-reformat-highlighted-text-in-a-word-document.aspx

    If you do come up with a solution, let us know!


  3. This really helps to find important things fast, nice post

  4. The ‘find’ function technic is really super! Thanks for the info! As a proof reader it will be very useful for me! Please write about the other options also in the ‘Find & Replace’ function.

  5. If you look at the ‘tag cloud’ on the right sidebar of this blog, you’ll find one for ‘find and replace’. Click that to see all the blog posts I’ve written about this function.

  6. thanks. this was very helpful

  7. Very, very useful! Many thanks!

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