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Replacing with Plain Text

Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. If you are using a later version (Word 2007 or later), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for later versions of Word, click here: Replacing with Plain Text.

If you use Word's Find and Replace tool to search for text and replace it with other text, Word applies to the replacement text the character attributes it found in the first character of the Find What text. For example, if you search for "Hilight is a brief review," and the word "Highlight" is in italics in the document, then the entire replacement string is formatted as italics by Word.

This behavior is by design; Word needs to pick some sort of formatting for the replacement text, so it bases it on the first character of what is being replaced. In most cases this isn't a problem, but in some cases (such as when the replacement text needs to have several character attributes) it can be a problem.

One solution is to use the formatting capabilities of the Find and Replace tool. When setting up your search, make sure the insertion point is in the Replace With box and then use the Format drop-down list to choose what formatting you want applied to the replacement text. If you don't want it to have any formatting, then you can choose Format | Font and make sure that Regular Text is selected.

If your formatting needs are more complex than forcing a plain-text replacement, then this simplistic approach won't work. For instance, you might want to replace "Hilight is a brief review" with "Highlights is a magazine for children," and both "Hilight" and "Highlights" were the only text to appear in italics. In this case, you need to rely on a more esoteric feature of the Find and Replace tool.

  1. Find a place in your document where you can type the replacement text and format it the way you want.
  2. Select the text and press Ctrl+X. The text is cut from the document and placed in the Clipboard.
  3. Press Ctrl+H to display the Replace tab of the Find and Replace dialog box. (See Figure 1.)
  4. Figure 1. The Replace tab of the Find and Replace dialog box.

  5. In the Find What box, enter the text you want to replace.
  6. In the Replace With box, enter ^c.
  7. Click Replace All.

Word finds whatever text you specified in step 4 and replaces it with the contents of the Clipboard, which happens to be your formatted replacement text.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (361) applies to Microsoft Word 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. You can find a version of this tip for the ribbon interface of Word (Word 2007 and later) here: Replacing with Plain Text.

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