Affinity Consulting Blog

We know that Word's find and replace function can be used to replace words and phrases. It can also be used to replace non-printing special characters that may find their way into your document and alter the formatting.

In order to find and replace special characters, use the Replace keyboard shortcut, CTRL+H to bring up the dialog box. You will see a More button. Click it or press ALT+M to reveal your Search Options. At the bottom under Replace will be a Special button. Click on it or press ALT+E.

That will open the list of non-printing special characters (Tabs., Line Breaks, Page Breaks, etc.) that can affect your formatting. Insert into the Find what field the special character you want to replace, then select what you would like to replace it with and place it in the Replace with field. If you want to simply remove the characters, then leave the Replace with field blank.

For example, we recently worked on a problematic document for a client that was converted from WordPerfect to Word. As a result of that bad conversion, there were 60 section breaks littering the document although only two were necessary. We used this technique to delete all of the section breaks (search for ^b) at once in a single click (Replace All button) and then easily add the two back that were actually required.

Another use is to remove unnecessary hard returns from text (search for ^p). For example, if you've ever copied text from a PDF into an email or Word document, you may have noticed that there were hard returns at the end of every line which makes the text difficult to edit. You can use the foregoing technique to replace Paragraph Marks with a space to eliminate the problem. We also use it to remove unnecessary tabs (^t) or extra hard returns between paragraphs (replace ^p^p with ^p).

To arrange for Word training customized for your firm, contact us.

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