Archive for the ‘Word’ Category


Word: Italicise numbers inside parentheses

December 2, 2021

In a comment on another blog post, one of my readers asked if there was an easy way to find all numbers and change them to italic. Well, there is (Option 1 below), but there was a further complication—some of these numbers were a range separated by a dash, and some were separated by commas. For example:

  • (123456)
  • (1-4)
  • (1, 5)
  • (1, 5, 12)

I couldn’t find an easy way to do this all at once, but you can do it by running several wildcard find and replace routines. If someone else has an easier or more elegant solution, please add it in the comments.


  • Tip: Just in case anything goes wrong, make a copy of your document before you start and do this in the copy until you are satisfied it works as you expect.
  • Tip: Only click Replace all once you are confident that it works.
  • Numbers are whole positive integers—no decimals, no ordinals, no negative numbers.
  • ‘Dash’ is the standard hyphen character on the keyboard, NOT an en or em dash, or a minus symbol.
  • All find and replace routines are done with Use wildcards turned on (Ctrl+h, click More, select Use wildcards).
  • Tip: Copy the find strings from here and paste into your Word find field.

Option 1: Find all numbers and change to italics

  1. Find: ([0-9])
  2. Replace: \1
  3. When in the Replace field, click Format > Font, and choose Italic.

Note: EVERY number in the document will be italicised.

Option 2: Find whole numbers only inside parentheses and change to italics

For example: (123456), (789), (23)

  1. Find: \(([0-9]@)\)
  2. Replace: ^&
  3. When in the Replace field, click Format > Font, and choose Italic.

Note: The numbers AND their surrounding parentheses will be italicised. See Option 6 for how to change the parentheses back to normal text.

Option 3: Find whole numbers separated with a single dash inside parentheses and change to italics

For example: (12-3456), (7-89), (2-3) [there are NO spaces before or after the dash]

  1. Find: \(([0-9]{1,9})(-)([0-9]{1,9})\)
  2. Replace: ^&
  3. When in the Replace field, click Format > Font, and choose Italic.

Note: The number ranges, the dashes, AND their surrounding parentheses will be italicised. See Option 6 for how to change the dash and the parentheses back to normal text.

Option 4: Find 2 numbers separated by a comma and a space, inside parentheses, and change to italics

For example: (1, 2), (25, 67)

  1. Find: \([0-9]{1,9}, [0-9]{1,9}\)
  2. Replace: ^&
  3. When in the Replace field, click Format > Font, and choose Italic.

Note: The numbers, the comma, the space, AND their surrounding parentheses will be italicised. See Option 6 for how to change the comma, space, and the parentheses back to normal text.

Option 5: Find 3 numbers separated by commas and spaces, inside parentheses, and change to italics

For example: (1, 2, 3), (25, 67, 345)

  1. Find: \(([0-9]{1,9}, [0-9]{1,9}, [0-9]{1,9})\)
  2. Replace: ^&
  3. When in the Replace field, click Format > Font, and choose Italic.

Note: The numbers, comma, spaces, AND their surrounding parentheses will be italicised. See Option 6 for how to change the commas, spaces, and the parentheses back to normal text.

Option 6: Change all commas, spaces, dashes, and parentheses back to normal text

  1. Find: ([, \(\)-]) (Note: there’s a space after the comma in this string)
  2. When in the Find field, click Format > Font, and choose Italic.
  3. Replace: ^&
  4. When in the Replace field, click Format > Font, and choose Not Italic.



Word: Apply a keyboard shortcut to a style

November 5, 2021

I realised I hadn’t written up one of the tricks I use every day! And that’s to use the keyboard to quickly apply a style to a piece of text. I’ve set up different keyboard shortcuts for the styles I use most (e.g. Body Text, Table Bullet).

Update: Some common styles already have inbuilt keyboard shortcuts:

  • Heading 1: Ctrl+Alt+1
  • Heading 2: Ctrl+Alt+2
  • Heading 3: Ctrl+Alt+3
  • List Bullet: Ctrl+Shift+L

Here’s how to add keyboard shortcuts for other styles:

  1. Go to File > Options > Customize Ribbon.
  2. Click Customize (the button next to Keyboard Shortcuts, below the left panel).
  3. Scroll to the end of the Categories section.
  4. Click Styles, which is the second-last category. The right section changes to list all the style names in the template.
  5. Click on a style name (e.g. Body Text).
  6. Check the Current Keys box to see if there’s already a keyboard shortcut assigned to it. If not, go to the Press new shortcut key field and PRESS the keyboard combination you want to use (DO NOT type the keys—you must press them as though you were using the keyboard to do the action). If a keyboard shortcut is already assigned to the selected style, you can cancel out of these screens and use it, or change it by continuing with the steps below.
  7. Check for any message below the Current Keys box to see if this key combination is used for something else in Word. If so, press another combination. Once you see [unassigned] listed, you know you can use that keyboard shortcut.
  8. Click Assign to assign your keyboard shortcut to this style.
  9. Repeat Steps 5 to 8 for any other styles you want to assign keyboard shortcuts to.
  10. When you’ve finished, click Close, and then OK to exit the windows.
  11. Test that it works by adding some plain text then pressing your keyboard shortcut—the plain text should now be styled with the style assigned to that keyboard shortcut.

Bonus: If you have a lot of documents that use different templates, provided a document has the same named styles as you’ve set for your style keyboard shortcuts (e.g. Body Text is used across documents—even though it might be styled differently in each document), the keyboard shortcut will work across all of those documents and apply the correct Body Text style from each template.



Word: Replace HTML em markers with italics

November 1, 2021

In a comment on another post, J had this problem: the text file that they’d copied into Word had the HTML code markers for emphasis (em enclosed by the greater than < and less than > arrows)and they wanted to get rid of these markers and change the text between those markers into italics. Unfortunately, WordPress won’t allow me write that code as it wants to automatically convert it into italics!

I solved their problem by using a wildcard find and replace in Word. Here’s how:

  1. Press Ctrl+h to open the Find and Replace window.
  2. Click More.
  3. Select the Use wildcards checkbox.
  4. In the Find field, type this (copy it if you think you’ll get it wrong; there are NO spaces in this string): (\<em\>)(*)(\</em\>) 
  5. In the Replace field, type this: \2
  6. While still in the Replace field, click Format (bottom left of the find/replace window), then Font, then select Italic. Font: Italic should display below the Replace field, as shown in the screenshot.
  7. Click Find Next. if you’re happy with what it found, click Replace. Only click Replace All if you’re confident that every instance of em has a closing em marker nearby.

How this works:

  • Each element of the Find is enclosed by parentheses. There are three elements — the opening em marker (#1), the text in between (#2), and the closing em marker (#3)
  • Because the greater than and less than symbols have special functions in Word’s wildcard find/replace, you have to ‘escape’ them by putting a \ in front of each
  • Because we don’t know which word or words or phrases or numbers are between the em markers, we use * to represent anything between an opening and a closing em marker
  • In the Replace, we don’t need the em markers anymore, so we omit them from the replace. But we do need the words that are enclosed by those em markers, and that’s the second element in the Find, so we type \2 to tell the second thing found to be replaced by itself.

An introduction to Word’s styles

October 21, 2021

I’m a huge fan of using styles in Word. Once you understand how they work, they can save countless hours of tedious formatting. This article from Office-Watch explains, in clear language, what styles are and how they are used:

It’s worth reading, even if you think you know a lot about styles. And despite using Word for 20+ years, I learnt what a Linked style actually means in practice.


Word: Doubled-up user name in comments

October 16, 2021

Here’s a strange one Adrienne M in one of my editors’ Facebook groups was able to solve for me a couple of weeks ago.

One of my clients (Dr Jun X) was getting a double-up of his first name in his comments. Just his first name, not his surname or his ‘Dr’ title.

I got him to try these things:

  • Check the User name setting under File > Options > General. It was fine.
  • Modify the XML file to change the reviewer’s name (using parts of these instructions:, and that seemed to work, but doesn’t hold for a new document he tested a comment on, as I expected.
  • Do a Registry search for his doubled-up name in case it was lurking somewhere in the bowels of the system (last resort, and not done as we found a solution).

He thought it might be a conflict between a global name that he’s used for Microsoft products vs the internal name set by Word (I wasn’t sure what he meant by that). I also asked him if he’d only ever opened this document locally, or if he’d worked on it in the online version of Word. Or if it had come from someone else use Word for Mac. Yes, I was clutching at straws…

I then posted the question on one of the editors’ Facebook groups and a few people came back suggesting it was likely a conflict between various Microsoft account credentials (which didn’t surprise me—I have several: my own, plus different ones with different clients and Microsoft just CANNOT deal with that! It’s so bad trying to find anything with the various credentials that I refuse to use OneDrive etc. as I invariably have a different login for it than I thought or that Microsoft wants me to use. I think Microsoft assumes everyone only works for one employer and therefore only needs one credential, but we freelancers work with many clients, which potentially means different credentials for each organisation—it’s all very confusing and Microsoft certainly doesn’t make it easy. But I digress…)

The different Microsoft accounts was the trigger that Adrienne needed to point us in the right direction. Underneath the username area in the Options is a checkbox for Always use these values regardless of sign in to Office (how have I never noticed it before???) Checking that box solved the problem. My client said: ‘I went back and ticked that option and it solved the problem. To test, I then went back and unticked it and the problem comes back.’ Thanks Adrienne!


Word: Show comments only

August 6, 2021

One of my work colleagues asked how to set a document so that only Comments showed in balloons, not all the insertions and deletions etc. As far as I know this setting is Word-specific, not document-specific, so if you need to share a document with others, you may need to give them these instructions to show just the comments.

I’m using Word 365 for Windows, with traditional comments, not Modern Comments, so these instructions may not apply to Modern Comments.

Quick method

  1. Go to the Review tab > Tracking group.
  2. Click the dropdown arrow for Show Markup.
  3. Clear all the checked options EXCEPT Comments (you have to do them one at a time).
  4. In the same Show Markup dropdown, click Balloons and choose Show only Comments and Formatting.

Longer method

  1. Go to the Review tab > Tracking group.
  2. Click the tiny little grey arrow in the bottom right corner of that group.
  3. On the Track Changes Options window, change the Balloons in All Markup View Show to Comments and formatting.
  4. If track formatting is off, then you’ve finished and can stop here. If it’s on, then do the rest of these steps.
  5. Click Advanced Options on the Track Changes Options window
  6. Clear the Track Formatting checkbox.
  7. Click OK, then OK again to close the windows.
  8. Now you have to accept all formatting changes. Go back to the Tracking group on the Review tab.
  9. Click the dropdown arrow next to Show Markup, then UNCHECK all options except Formatting (you have to do them one at a time).
  10. Check again that Formatting is the ONLY option checked.
  11. Click the dropdown arrow underneath Accept, then chose the Accept All Changes Shown option – be careful as these options look alike. This accepts all the formatting changes (if they were tracked).
  12. Now go back to the Show Markup dropdown and recheck the Comments option.

Word: Reinstating the old spellcheck dialog

August 4, 2021

Recent upgrades to Word 365 (for Windows) have included changes to how spellcheck displays—you now get the not-at-all-user-friendly Edit button and Editor panel, and you might get grammar checks too, even if you have turned them off. Like other recent changes, I’m not sure Microsoft ever tested these ‘features’ with power users of Word such as editors.

However, there is a way to get the old spellcheck window back. It requires you to install a macro into your Normal.dotm template (in your Templates folder) OR other specialised macros document (in the Startup folder), and then to assign a Quick Access Toolbar icon and/or a keyboard shortcut to run the macro.

I cannot take ANY credit for the macro—it was listed by Charles Kenyon on a forum back in November 2018, and works well with my version of Word 365 (currently Version 2008, Build 13127.21506):

Sub DisplayTraditionalSpellCheckDialog()
End Sub

[Link last checked August 2021]



Word has errors and won’t open

June 29, 2021

In a comment on another post, Matt asked:

I’m sure you’ve written about this but I’m too lazy to look for it. What can I do with a Word file that will not open? I guess it’s corrupted somehow. I was working for several hours on it and saving periodically, but then had some issues with Windows Explorer not working so I had to fix that and when I got it fixed and rebooted the system, the Word file will not open now. I get this error message: “Word experienced an error trying to open the file. Try these suggestions. * Check the file permissions for the document or drive. * Make sure there is sufficient free memory and disk space. * Open the file with the Text Recovery converter.” I checked and I have this: File permissions are: Full Control; Free Memory: ?; Disk Space: 745GB free; and What is the “Text Recovery Converter”?

My response:

You could try some of these (, but it looks like the doc won’t even open. I suggest you make a copy of it, then try to open the copy in Wordpad (which should be on your Windows PC by default; in Explorer, right click on the file and select Open With, then select Wordpad). Another suggestion is to upload the doc to Google Docs and try to open from there. Or download the free Open Office and try that. Your aim at the moment is to preserve the text you have in the doc — you can reapply formatting later if some of it goes wonky. If you can get it open in one of these apps, you can try saving as a new DOCX file and trying to reopen in Word. If that doesn’t work, you can try saving as an RTF file and then try opening in Word.

And at that point, I was out of suggestions. However, I did a quick search and found this article from Microsoft that offers all sorts of other options:

I also found these clear instructions for using the Text Recovery Converter:

[Link last checked June 2021]


Testing Antidote 10

June 28, 2021

A fellow editor mentioned that they use Antidote as one of their editing tools. I hadn’t heard of it, but the website looked promising ( It’s classed as a ‘writing assistance tool, and at first glance appears to have similar functions to StyleWriter (, which I have used in the past, though not recently.

A wet and rainy Sunday was the perfect time to test it out on my laptop (not my main computer, in case anything went wrong).

Let me start by saying that my initial experiences with the website and the download were NOT good, and most people would’ve given up long before I did (I used to work in the software industry, doing installations, testing, writing procedures etc., so probably have more patience than most for persevering with software). The first issue I encountered was that it didn’t seem to recognise my email address/password on the initial try and I didn’t get the account verification email. I then had to go into the account portal to download the software. However, despite installing it, it kept displaying the account login screen and then throwing me out and not sending me a reset password, and/or wanting me to enter my registration number (I didn’t have one for the 30-day trial) or to buy the software—there was no option for the trial. Finally, I uninstalled everything, created a new account with a new password and tried again—this time I was able to download the software and run it in trial mode, but I spent a frustrating couple of hours getting to that point. I’d also like to add that I HATE having to create an account with an unknown company just to download and install trial software. And the download was HUGE too—almost 1 GB, which would hurt anyone on a low-speed or limited data internet connection. However, the trial version seems to be fully functional, just limited to 30 days and a maximum of 10,000 words that it will assess. One other thing about the installation—it auto installs its Connectix software and asks you to turn off any connections with other programs you don’t want (I turned off everything except Word); however, it showed the Office 2016 suite of programs in this list, yet I’ve only got Office 365 on the laptop, so that was strange (Update: When I clicked File > Account > About Word, the version in brackets on the first line says 16.0.13…. so I’m pretty sure that’s where the ‘Word 2016’ comes from. Thanks to Amber for alerting me.)). It also asks if you want to install or extract the installation files—I’m not sure how many non-tech people would know which to chose, or why; this message could be worded better with an explanation as to what will happen with each choice.

So let’s get past that horrible initial experience and focus on what it can do to a Word document.

I loaded up one of my main client’s documents—54 pages, 13,300 words. The Antidote functions are added to their own tab on Word’s toolbar. I clicked Connector and off it went and analysed the document for all sorts of errors. It opens an interface showing the text in its own window; the Word doc is still accessible from the toolbar and if you make any direct changes in Word, those changes are auto synced when you return to the Antidote window. In my case, I wanted to test how it worked on a doc with plenty of track changes (TC) and so I made sure they remained visible and that TC remained turned on. The Antidote interface only shows the text as it would be with TC not showing (i.e. as though they were all accepted). Any change you make in the Antidote interface is immediately applied to the Word doc, and the changes are tracked if you have TC turned on in Word. However, and this was a showstopper for me, at some point the TC in the doc were ALL accepted by Antidote!!! I’m not sure when this happened—while I was making changes, everything seemed fine. It could have been after I did things with the personal dictionary, but I’m not sure. Losing all the TC is a deal breaker for me as I HAVE to preserve them (I work on regulatory docs, for the most part).

As far as I could tell, you also can’t tell Antidote to ignore certain parts of the doc, so it picked up number errors in the table of contents (TOC), for example, when these were actually page numbers in the autogenerated TOC. Likewise, I couldn’t see a way to tell Antidote to ignore front matter, glossaries, reference lists, appendices, fields, etc. or to ignore punctuation such as a hyphen in an autogenerated caption (e.g. for Figure 4-1 it suggested I add spaces around the hyphen).

You also can’t use any of Word’s autocorrect functions when making changes, or in the description of a term in the personal dictionary (I did like how they offered different categories for proper names you add to the dictionary). However, my PhraseExpress text expansion codes seemed to work fine. While on dictionaries, you can add you own dictionaries to Antidote (must be a TXT or HTML file, but you can save a DIC file as TXT and import it as a personal dictionary); however, I’m pretty sure anything you add to your personal dictionary in Antidote does NOT get added to your Word DIC file, so you may need to double up on that.

No formatting marks are shown (it’s billed as a writing assistant, after all, not a formatting checker), so it’s very hard to see things like double spaces, where tabs have been used for indenting etc. You will have to use other tools for this. ALL text is rendered as plain text (manually applied bold and italics seem to be retained), so headings (using styles), captions, table cells etc. are lines in the wall of text. Fields are also rendered as plain text, so if you change any of those from within Antidote, you will likely break the field in the Word doc.

In my couple of hours of testing, I was very impressed with the analysis done, the suggestions made, the comprehensiveness of the internal guides and dictionaries, the fact that you can add you own dictionaries to Antidote, and many other things. The interface was fairly easy to use and to understand too. However, I won’t be buying it because the unexplained and automatic acceptance of all TC is a deal breaker for me.


Word: What you get depends on your version

June 11, 2021

It used to be so easy—Word 2010 for Windows was a different version to Word 2013, Word 2016 etc. Microsoft version and build numbers didn’t seem to matter too much. But since the advent of Office 365 by subscription, it’s not so easy to know which version of Word 365 for Windows you’re using, because they’re all called ‘Word Microsoft 365’ on the launch screen. You have to look for this information (it’s under File > Account). The version you have dictates what functions you see on the tabs on your ribbon (yes, other things can affect the tabs displayed too, like any add-ins you might have and what tabs you’ve turned on or off [under File > Options > Customize Ribbon]).

Since the introduction of the hated Modern Comments, I’ve been very mindful that the Word 365 version I’m using might show different icons on the tabs to someone else’s version. I’ve chosen to turn off Word updates for now so that I don’t get these Modern Comments, which will affect my productivity. However, I have allowed my laptop to upgrade to the latest version of Word. I did this to test Modern Comments, but then I realised that some of the things I was seeing on the tabs on the laptop differed from those I saw on my main PC. So this blog post describes those differences, using screenshots of the various tabs.

Some notes:

  • Tab sizes and icon arrangements differ as I took screenshots from a wide monitor on my PC and from a much smaller screen on my laptop.
  • All tabs have the same icons etc. at the far right for ‘Share’ and ‘Comments’ – I have deleted the empty space for the tabs that weren’t filled with icons, along with the Share and Comments icons, where not required.
  • My tabs will look different from yours as I use certain add-ins (e.g. PerfectIt, Acrobat, and EditTools) that add their own tab, and I’ve created my own Editing tab. I’ve also turned off some tabs and turned on others.
  • All screenshots are from Word 365 for Windows. Differences are between versions and builds of Word 365:
    • PC: Version 2008, Build 13127.21506
    • Laptop: Version 2105, Build 14026.20246 (I use this as my test machine, and so have allowed it to update to the version that was applicable on 11 June 2021)
  • When I say ‘Appears to be the same’ it means that the available icons look the same. That doesn’t mean that they work the same—I tested very little functionality.
  • Click on individual screenshots to view them larger.

File tab

Appears to be the same (no screenshots as all the function labels were the same)

Home tab



New icons:

  • New — Opens the Templates window
  • Editor – opens a spelling, grammar etc. pane. Green ticks = no errors found; a number indicates that there were errors of this type. Click the line to display the errors/run the check (e.g. Spelling opens the spellchecker). However, if you want the old spellchecker back, you’ll need to add it as an icon on your Quick Access Toolbar (File > Options > Quick Access Toolbar, click drop down and select All Commands, then find the one that is Spelling… (there are several – you need the one with the ellipses), then click Add to add it to your QAT, then click OK. Click the newly added icon on the QAT to check you got the right one.)
  • Reuse Files (also on the Insert tab) – Opens a list of recently used files, with a search box. I don’t see the purpose for this, at this stage. And I’m not sure what you can do with the files it lists.

Insert tab



New icons:

  • Reuse Files (also on the Home tab; see the information there)

Missing icons (compared to earlier [PC] version):

  • Add From Files – it looks like this has become Reuse Files
  • Get Add-ins
  • My Add-ins
  • Embed Flash – Flash technology is no longer supported, so it’s no surprise this icon is missing in the later version

Draw tab



New icons:

  • Select (arrow icon on the left)
  • Draw to Touch – replaces the old Draw?

Different icons:

  • Draw – now Draw to Touch?
  • Eraser – now an icon of the eraser end of a pencil
  • Lasso select – similar icon, but no text label

Missing icons:

  • Add pen (options are now included in the main tab in later version, so not actually missing)
  • Ink Editor

Design tab

Appears to be the same (no screenshots as all the icons and labels were the same)

Layout tab (Page Layout in the later version)

Appears to be the same (no screenshots as all the icons and labels were the same). I think the renaming of this tab as Page Layout is a positive change to clearly distinguish it from the Table Layout tab when you’ve selected a table. Anyone doing support over the phone would appreciate this distinction.

References tab



New icon:

  • ABC? Acronyms on a new Insights group – I couldn’t see how this worked. I added an acronym to the document I was testing in various ways—acronym followed by the full term, full term followed by the acronym in parentheses, and in a table of definitions with the acronym in the left cell and the definition in the right cell. None of these were picked up when I clicked Acronyms.

Mailings tab

Appears to be the same (no screenshots as all the icons and labels were the same)

Review tab



New icons:

  • Editor – see info under the Home tab
  • Hide Ink – hides any drawn objects; also an option to delete them

Missing icons:

  • Spelling & Grammar – replaced by Editor

View tab

Appears to be the same (no screenshots as all the icons and labels were the same)

Developer tab

Appears to be the same (no screenshots as all the icons and labels were the same)

Help tab



Only change is the image on the Feedback icon—they’ve replaced that very unprofessional smiley face, thank goodness.

Table Design tab

Only visible when you click inside a table. Appears to be the same (no screenshots as all the icons and labels were the same)

Table Layout tab

Only visible when you click inside a table. Appears to be the same (no screenshots as all the icons and labels were the same)

Graphics Format tab

Only visible when you click on an icon you’ve inserted (Insert > Icons). Appears to be the same (no screenshots as all the icons and labels were the same)

Picture Format tab

Only visible when you click on an inserted image. Appears to be the same (no screenshots as all the icons and labels were the same)

[Links last checked June 2021]