Word: Find expanded text or spaces

July 26, 2016


Today I edited an activity guide. It had a formatting oddness that took me a while to figure out. Every so often (not consistently, but at least once or twice per paragraph), there would be a single space that looked like a double space.

It took me forever to figure out what the problem was (Expanded font style), then research how to fix it. I couldn’t find anything that indicated that I could do a global search & replace. If anyone knows a way to search & replace on particular formatting on Word, I’d love to know.


In Word for Windows, you can search for expanded text and replace it with normal, BUT you need to know how much it’s expanded by, and hope that all is expanded to the same degree.

In the screenshot below, some spaces (highlighted in green) are expanded by 2 pt. All others are not expanded. The yellow highlight shows an instance of a normal space followed by a ‘Y’ so you can see the difference between that and the green one with the expanded space in front of another ‘Y’. These things are hard to see, so make sure your formatting marks are turned on and zoom in — I zoomed in to 150% in this example.

FR_expanded space01

  1. Select one of the expanded spaces and check the Font settings > Advanced tab to find out what degree of expansion is used (e.g. 1 pt, 1.1 pt, 2 pt etc.). Write it down.
  2. Go to the Find and Replace dialog box (Ctrl+H), then the Replace tab.
  3. Type the space into the Find what field.
  4. Click More.
    FR_expanded space02
  5. Click Format > Font.
    FR_expanded space03
  6. Click the Advanced tab and select Expanded from the Spacing options, then enter the point size you found out earlier into the By field.
    FR_expanded space04
  7. Click OK to return to the Replace tab — you should have ‘Expanded by xx pt’ below the Find what field.
    FR_expanded space05
  8. Go to the Replace with field, type a space, then More > Format > Font > Advanced tab, select Spacing = Normal.
    FR_expanded space06
  9. Click OK to return to the Replace tab. The Replace with field should have ‘Not Expanded by /Condensed by’ below it.
    FR_expanded space07
  10. Click Find Next and then Replace to find each expanded space and replace it with a normal space (if you’re confident, click Replace All).


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