Word: Find duplicated words

December 6, 2017

This find/replace is based on Paul Beverley’s work, so full acknowledgement to him for teaching me how to do this via his YouTube videos and his free book.


Some of my authors inadvertently type the same word twice (e.g. is is, the the), and it’s often hard to pick these up when editing. If you run spellcheck, you may find them, but there’s no guarantee of that. The find and replace below uses wildcards to find any instance of duplicated words, followed by a space or a common punctuation mark, and then replaces that with a single word and the trailing space or punctuation.

NOTE: This find/replace only finds words with the exact same case, so it will find ‘the the’, ‘THE THE’, and ‘The The’, but it won’t find instances where each word has the same letters but with different cases (e.g. ‘the The’, ‘The the’, ‘tHe thE’ etc.)


  1. Press Ctrl+H to open the Find and Replace dialog box.
  2. Click More, then select the Use wildcards option.
  3. In the Find field, type: (<[A-Za-z]@)[ ,.;:]@\1>
    (Note: There’s a space in there, so I suggest you copy this Find string.)
  4. In the Replace field, type: \1
  5. Click Find Next then click Replace. Repeat.


How this works — at least how I *think* it works:

  • Find: Look for the start of any word (<) made up of any number (@) of letters ([A-Za-z]) followed by a space or punctuation ([ ,.;:]) then repeat that find (@\1) until you can’t any more words that match the pattern (>).
  • Replace: Replace the first element (the first of the duplicate words) with itself (that’s the \1 bit), which effectively deletes the rest.

[Links last checked December 2017]


  1. THANK YOU THANK YOU for providing this. This is EXACTLY what I was looking for! I understood how to search for double specific words but not unspecified ones. I have literally zero clue what the string of characters means but it works. You are brilliant. Thanks again.

  2. Thank you for this! I’m also trying to figure out how to find two duplicated words separated by a comma (i.e. the, the) and then replace the comma with a single dash (i.e. the- the). The “find what” part works perfectly! But I can’t figure out the “replace with” part. Any suggestions? I tried putting \1-\2 in the “replace with” box, but no luck.

  3. Hi Terri

    I started to look for another (more complicated) solution, but then realised that you just want the word repeated, but with a hyphen/dash between them. So, use \1-\1 — there’s no second element in the string for it to replace, so \2 would never work.


  4. Rhonda – thank you!! Your solution worked wonderfully.

  5. I’m thankful for this article. I learned something though.

    I had a document/list with many duplicate words/phrases all separated by a paragraph. Since “Use wildcards” doesn’t work with the paragraph symbol “^p”, I had to first find/replace all the paragraph symbols with a character that wasn’t in the list. I chose “;”.

    Once I did that, all the words ran together, and THEN “(” string worked. (Note: I only used “;”).

    After that, I went back and find/replaced the “;” with “^p”.

    Additionally, the string didn’t replace the phrases because of the spaces and hyphens in between the words. Since there were very few of those, I just manually deleted them. There might have been a way to find/replaced the spaces and hyphens and then find/replaced the duplicate phrases, but I didn’t try that.

  6. I don’t know what happened, but my comment should have said:

    … THEN “(” string worked.

  7. Hi Wilkins

    ^p doesn’t work in a wildcard search—instead use ^013


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