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Word: Find ‘ing’ words and change their formatting

September 21, 2018

Tessa had a problem—she needed to find all words ending in ‘ing’ in her document and format the whole word in some way.

NOTE: This find/replace will find ALL words ending in ‘ing’, but not words ending in ‘ings’ or ‘ingly’. And words such as ‘going’, ‘bring’, ‘sing’, ‘king’, and ‘thing’ also get found. But if your aim is to find ALL words ending in ‘ing’ that’s what you’ll get.

Simplest solution: If you didn’t want the whole word to be formatted, just the ‘ing’ bit, then it’s easiest to use the standard find/replace, with the ‘Match Suffix’ option turned on. See Method 1 below.

However, if you want the whole words found and formatted, you’ll need to use wildcards. See Method 2 below.

Method 1

  1. Open the Find and Replace window (Ctrl+h).
  2. Click More to see the extra search options.
  3. In the ‘Find what’ field, type ing
  4. Select the Match suffix checkbox.
  5. Put your cursor in the ‘Replace with’ field, then click Format at the bottom of the window.
  6. Click Font.
  7. Select the formatting you want to apply to the found ‘ing’s—you can choose one or more options from this window. Then click OK to close the Font window. The formatting you selected is listed below the empty ‘Replace with’ field.
  8. Click Find Next, then click Replace as many times as you need to be comfortable that the find/replace works as you want it to. If you’re happy with the matches, then click Replace All.

Method 2

This method uses Word’s find and replace with wildcards.

  1. Open the Find and Replace window (Ctrl+h).
  2. Click More to see the extra search options.
  3. Select the Use wildcards checkbox.
  4. In the ‘Find what’ field, type <[A-Za-z]@ing>
  5. Put your cursor in the ‘Replace with’ field, then click Format at the bottom of the window.
  6. Click Font.
  7. Select the formatting you want to apply to the found ‘ing’ words—you can choose one or more options from this window. Then click OK to close the Font window. The formatting you selected is listed below the empty ‘Replace with’ field.
  8. Click Find Next, then click Replace as many times as you need to be comfortable that the find/replace works as you want it to. If you’re happy with the matches, then click Replace All.

How this wildcard find/replace works:

  • < and > represent the start (<) and end (>) of a word (this specifies that you’re looking for a whole word)
  • [A-Za-z] look for any upper any lower case letters
  • @ing tells Word to repeat looking for upper/lower case letters until it finds ing

What about ‘ing’ in the middle of a word?

Follow Steps 1 to 3 in Method 2 above, then in the ‘Find what’ field, type <[A-z]@ing[a-z]@>. Continue with Steps 5 to 8 above.

NOTE: You can’t format just a part of the replace (i.e. you can’t make just the ‘ing’ in ‘fringed’ red or bold)—it’s all or nothing.

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