Posts Tagged ‘find and replace’

h1

Word: Find multiple manually entered numbers and delete

April 22, 2019

I copied a very long manually numbered list (more than 300 numbered list items) from the internet into Notepad (to strip out the formatting), then into a Word document. Unfortunately, the numbers remained, and applying Word’s numbering didn’t get rid of them. What to do? Use Word’s Find and Replace with wildcards, of course!

My aim was to delete all the numbers and the space, en dash, space following each number, to end up with a list I could apply Word’s auto numbering to.

Here’s how I did it (NOTE: If you’re doing something similar, work on a COPY of your document first to make sure this works as you want it to):

  1. Open the Find and Replace dialog box (Ctrl+h).
  2. Click More.
  3. Select the Use Wildcards checkbox.
  4. In the Find what field, type: (<[0-9]@>)( – )
  5. Leave the Replace with field empty.
  6. Click Replace All.

Voilà! Almost all the numbers were gone, except for a few that used hyphens instead of en dashes or that didn’t have a space before or after the en dash, but I spotted these easily and fixed them manually.

How this works:

  • The first element (in the first set of parentheses) comprises several parts:
    • < and > indicate the beginning and end of a ‘word’, respectively
    • [0-9] indicates any number in the range from 0 to 9, and with the < in front of it, any ‘word’ that starts with a numeral
    • @ says to look for whatever immediately preceded this symbol as many times as required (i.e. a number from 0 to 9) until you reach the end of word marker (in other words, a whole number of any length)
  • The second element (second set of parentheses) looks for a space, en dash, space immediately following the number found in the first element
  • By leaving Replace with empty, you’re replacing whatever was found that matched the Find with nothing—in other words, you’re deleting whatever was found.

 

h1

Word: Find and replace a custom font colour

March 30, 2019

If you’ve used a custom colour for quite a bit of text in your document and want to replace it with another custom colour, you have two options:

  • If the colour is part of a style, modify the font colour in the style’s settings—this should change all instances immediately. I won’t discuss this further.
  • If the colour has been applied manually (i.e. not part of a style), then you’ll need to do a find and replace to find all instances of colour A and replace them with colour B.

Here’s how to change a manually applied custom colour using find and replace:

  1. Open the Find and Replace dialog (Ctrl+H).
  2. Make sure the cursor is in the Find field.
  3. Click More.
  4. Click Format.
  5. Choose Font.
  6. Click the drop-down arrow for Font Color.
  7. Click More Colors.
  8. Enter the RGB values you want to find (e.g. 255, 51, 153).
  9. Click OK. The text under the Find field should show the RGB values you selected; for example: Font Color: Custom Color (RGB(255,51,153)).
  10. Place your cursor in the Replace field.
  11. Repeat Steps 4 to 7.
  12. Enter the RGB values you want to use for the replace (e.g. 230, 131, 76).
  13. Click OK. The text under the Find field should show the RGB values you selected; for example: Font Color: Custom Color (RGB(230,131,76)).
  14. Click Find Next, then click Replace for the first one found.
  15. Repeat Step 14 until all are found, or, if you are confident that you won’t mess up anything else, click Replace All.

 

h1

Word: Find and replace multiple asterisks used as separator lines

February 15, 2019

On one of my editing forums, someone had a situation where the author had used many long strings of asterisks to separate various parts of the document. The length of these asterisk ‘lines’ weren’t the same—sometimes the author had used 3 asterisks, other times they’d used 4 or 8 or 35 or some other random number of asterisks. How to get rid of them all at once? Enter Word’s wildcard find and replace feature!

  1. Press Ctrl+H to open the Find and Replace dialog box.
  2. Click the More button to show more find/replace options.
  3. Select the Use wildcards checkbox.
  4. In the Find what field, type: (^013)(\*{2,50})(^013)
  5. In the Replace with field, type: \1\3
  6. Click Find Next to find the first instance, then Replace to replace the multiple asterisks with a paragraph mark.
  7. Repeat step 6 as many times as you need to be confident that it’s finding the right things. Once you’re confident, click Replace All to run through the whole document and fix all instances.

Explanation for how this works:

  • (^013) looks for a paragraph mark (this indicates the end of the previous line of text). This string defines the first section of the Find.
  • (\*{2,50}) looks for two or more asterisks, up to 50 asterisks (yes, you can change the numbers inside the curly braces to suit your situation— if you think you might have some lines with 100 asterisks, then change the 50 to 100; if you don’t know what the upper limit is, then leave it empty [i.e. use \*{2,}). This string defines the second section of the Find. NOTE: An Asterisk is a special character in wildcard searches, so you need to ‘escape’ it by putting a backward slash in front of it.
  • (^013) looks for a paragraph mark immediately following a string of asterisks. This string defines the third and last section of the Find.
  • \1 replaces the first part of the wildcard string with itself. In other words, the paragraph mark found is replaced with itself, so no change apparently occurs.
  • \3 replaces the third part of the wildcard string with itself. In other words, the paragraph mark found is replaced with itself, so no change apparently occurs.

A note about ^013: In an ordinary find/replace, you would use ^p for a paragraph mark, but this doesn’t work in a wildcard find/replace—instead, you have to use ^013.

h1

Word: Insert a degree symbol

September 22, 2018

There’s a special character for a degree, so don’t make the mistake of superscripting a lower case ‘o’. Instead, use one of these methods to insert a proper degree symbol in Microsoft Word:

  • If you have a separate number pad, then press Alt+0176 (press and hold the Alt key while you type 0176)
  • For any keyboard with or without a number pad, press Ctrl+Shift+@.
  • Go to the Insert tab > Symbol — the degree symbol is character code = 00B0, Unicode (hex)
  • If you have Math AutoCorrect turned on, then type \degree (to turn on Math AutoCorrect: File > Options > Proofing > AutoCorrect Options > Math AutoCorrect tab).

If you have a lot of superscripted lower case ‘o’ characters used instead of a proper degree symbols, you can search for them and replace them with the correct symbol:

  1. Open the Find and Replace window (Ctrl+h).
  2. In the ‘Find what’ field, type a lower case o.
  3. With your cursor still in the ‘Find what’ field, click More.
  4. Click Format and select Font.
  5. Click the Superscript checkbox until it has a check mark in it.
  6. Click OK to close the Find Font window.
  7. Put your cursor in the ‘Replace with’ field.
  8. Type ^0176
  9. With your cursor still in the ‘Replace with’ field, click Format and select Font.
  10. Click the Superscript checkbox until it is clear. You may have to click it twice.
  11. Check your Find and Replace window looks like the screenshot below. If it does, click Find Next and then Replace for each one found.

Related: Prime and double prime symbols: https://cybertext.wordpress.com/2018/09/23/word-insert-a-prime-and-double-prime-characters/

h1

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.

h1

Word: Make some specific text bold

September 14, 2018

As most people would know, you can apply bold formatting in Word using Ctrl+b or the Bold icon on the Home table on the Ribbon.

But what if you want more? What if you have some specific text scattered throughout your document that you want to make bold in one action? This was the issue Colin faced. In a comment on one of my other blog posts, Colin asked if there was a way to apply bold a set of characters that all started with the same code, but had different numbers after that code (e.g. like product codes). In his example, he had a lot of instances of VA-001, VA-002, etc. with the last three digits being different each time. He’d tried the method I’d documented in my earlier post, but he could only bold part of the code, not all of it.

As with any find and replace, once you identify the pattern, it’s easy enough to test various ways of finding a match and then applying the change to it. I figured out two methods—both using wildcards. The first method assumes there are only ever three characters (not, 1, 2, 4, etc.) after the VA- part, while the second applies to any length of the ‘word’ after VA-.

For both methods, open the Find and Replace window (Ctrl+h), click More, then check the option for Use wildcards.

Method 1: Only three characters

  1. In the Find field, type: (VA-)(???)
  2. In the Replace with field, type: \1\2
  3. With your cursor still in the Replace with field, click Format, then Font, then select Bold. You should see Font: Bold directly below the Replace with field (see screenshot).
  4. Click Replace a few times to make sure the find/replace is doing what you expect it to. Once you are satisfied, you can click Replace All.

Notes:

  • In the Find, the code is separated into two parts, both surrounded by parentheses—the VA- part, which is a constant in what Colin had, and three question marks (???). A single question mark represents any single character, so by typing three question marks, you’re asking Word to look for ANY three characters (letters and/or numbers) after the VA- part. If you only had two characters, then you’d type two question marks; if you had 4, then you’d type four, etc.
  • In the Replace, you’re replacing what was found in both parts with itself. In other words, you’re not changing anything. What you are doing in the Replace, though, is specifying that what you find and replace with itself is now bold (step 3).

Method 2: Any number of characters

  1. In the Find field, type: (VA-)(*>)
  2. In the Replace with field, type: \1\2
  3. With your cursor still in the Replace with field, click Format, then Font, then select Bold. You should see Font: Bold directly below the Replace with field (see screenshot).
  4. Click Replace a few times to make sure the find/replace is doing what you expect it to. Once you are satisfied, you can click Replace All.

Notes:

  • In the Find, the code is separated into two parts, both surrounded by parentheses—the VA- part, which is a constant in what Colin had, and an asterisk followed by a right chevron arrow. The asterisk represents any number of characters from one to infinity. Because a ‘character’ in Word could be a space, you don’t want it to find EVERY character after the VA- part—you’d get the whole document! So you add the > to tell Word to stop at the end of the ‘word’ it finds. In other words, it will stop at any character that typically follows a set of adjacent characters (a ‘word’), such as a space, period, comma, colon, semicolon, etc.
  • In the Replace, you’re replacing what was found in both parts with itself. In other words, you’re not changing anything. What you are doing in the Replace, though, is specifying that what you find and replace with itself is now bold (step 3).

[Links lat checked September 2018]

h1

Word: Macro to convert from one style to another

September 11, 2018

I should have hunted this out years ago. My main client has a habit of changing templates every couple of years, which means the old docs have to go onto the current template when they get revised. It’s a pain and involves quite a few steps (and up to several hours) per document. I still have to do the cover page and headers/footers manually, and all the landscape/portrait sections, but now I’ve got a way to convert styles in the older template to differently named styles in the newer template. For styles with the same name, no such conversion is necessary, but when the old style is called ‘Table Bullet 1’ and the new one is called ‘Table Bullet’ you have to either reapply the correct style everywhere it is used (ugh!), do a global find and replace for the style, or do a ‘select all’ for the style and then click the new style to apply it.

Some caveats:

  • Test first. Test on a COPY of the old document before doing it on the original copy, and any other documents in the set.
  • Make sure you’ve applied the new template to the old document so that the new styles are available in the document. (or, use the Organizer to copy styles across from the old template to the new [longer, slower method]).
  • Make a list of the old styles and the matching, but differently named, new styles—make sure you write down the style names EXACTLY (including any hyphens in the style name) otherwise this macro won’t work.
  • This macro runs a find and replace and replaces ALL. Test first.

Acknowledgements: I modified the macro written by Christina and available from here: https://stackoverflow.com/questions/29953322/changing-styles-in-word-using-vba to suit my client’s situation.

In my modified macro below, several styles used in tables had name changes, as did one for the appendix headings. You can add more for your circumstances—just make sure you add a new ‘Set’ line with a unique name, call that name in a separate ‘With’ statement, and make sure you add that name to the ‘Dim’ statement at the top of the macro.

If you want to use/modify this macro, copy/paste the code below–some of it runs off the page, so if you retype the code you may miss some critical command. Then modify the Set names (if required) and the style names in the double quotes.

Sub FNR_Styles()

' Converts old table and Appendix styles to new using find and replace
' Rhonda Bracey, 11 Sept 2018 (modified from https://stackoverflow.com/questions/29953322/changing-styles-in-word-using-vba [Christina])

Dim objDoc As Document
Dim table1 As Style, table2 As Style, table3 As Style, table4 As Style, app1 As Style

Set objDoc = ActiveDocument
' This code does *NOT* protect against the possibility that these styles don't
' appear in the document. That's probably not a concern with built-in styles,
' but be aware of that if you want to expand upon this for other uses.
' Set up as many of these as you need, giving each a unique name.
' The style name in the quote marks is the NEW style name.
' Make sure you add the name to the second Dim row at the top of the macro as well.

Set table1 = ActiveDocument.Styles("Table Text")
Set table2 = ActiveDocument.Styles("Table Bullet")
Set table3 = ActiveDocument.Styles("Table Heading White")
Set table4 = ActiveDocument.Styles("Table Text Number")
Set app1 = ActiveDocument.Styles("Appendix Heading")

' Searches the entire document (but not foot/endnotes, headers, or footers)
' for the old style and replaces it with the new style.

With objDoc.Content.Find
    .ClearFormatting
    .Style = "Table Text - Left"
    ' The style in the quote marks is the OLD style name
    With .Replacement
    .ClearFormatting
    .Style = table1
    End With
    ' Below is the Replace All command.
    ' Could change this to Replace:=wdReplaceOne to replace one only
   
    .Execute Wrap:=wdFindContinue, Format:=True, Replace:=wdReplaceAll
End With

With objDoc.Content.Find
    .ClearFormatting
    .Style = "Table Bullet 1"
    With .Replacement
    .ClearFormatting
    .Style = table2
    End With
    .Execute Wrap:=wdFindContinue, Format:=True, Replace:=wdReplaceAll
End With
With objDoc.Content.Find
    .ClearFormatting
    .Style = "Table Head - Center"
    With .Replacement
    .ClearFormatting
    .Style = table3
    End With
    .Execute Wrap:=wdFindContinue, Format:=True, Replace:=wdReplaceAll
End With
With objDoc.Content.Find
    .ClearFormatting
    .Style = "Table Text - Number"
    With .Replacement
    .ClearFormatting
    .Style = table4
    End With
    .Execute Wrap:=wdFindContinue, Format:=True, Replace:=wdReplaceAll
End With
With objDoc.Content.Find
    .ClearFormatting
    .Style = "App H1"
    With .Replacement
    .ClearFormatting
    .Style = app1
    End With
    .Execute Wrap:=wdFindContinue, Format:=True, Replace:=wdReplaceAll
 End With

End Sub