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Matching At the Beginning or End of a Word

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: Matching At the Beginning or End of a Word.

When you are using the pattern matching capabilities of Word's Find and Replace tool, you can specify that you only want to match at the beginning or end of a word by using the < and > signs. For instance, if you wanted to search for a word that began with two consonants or a punctuation mark and a consonant, you could search for <[!AEIOUaeiou0-9]{2}. This effectively states "start at the beginning of a word and match anything that is two characters which are not upper- or lowercase vowels or a digit."

Likewise, if you wanted to find any word that ended in "ing," you could search for ing>. (Without the period, of course, which is only used here to end the sentence in the paragraph.)

You can use both the < and > characters together in a single search specification, which allows you to search for entire words. If you wanted all the four-character words beginning with t and ending with d, you could search for <[Tt]??[Dd]>. If you wanted any dates between 1800 and 1999, you could use <1[89][0-9]{2}>.

If you actually want to search for < or > in your document, you should precede the character with the backslash. Thus, to search for < you would use \< in your search specification.

Remember that to take advantage of the pattern matching capabilities of Word, you just need to make sure the Use Wildcards check box is selected on either the Find or Replace tabs of the Find and Replace dialog box.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (1662) 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: Matching At the Beginning or End of a Word.

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