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: Searching for Special Characters.

Searching for Special Characters

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated June 8, 2013)

Word allows you to search not just for text, but also for special characters that normally do not print. If you are working with documents that use tabular material, you will find yourself searching for tab characters quite a bit. To search for tabs, follow these steps:

  1. Press Ctrl+F. Word displays the Find tab of the Find and Replace dialog box.
  2. Click the More button, if it is available. (See Figure 1.)
  3. Figure 1. The Find tab of the Find and Replace dialog box.

  4. In the Find What box, enter the text for which you want to search. For example, to search for a tab character enter ^t (it is important to use a lowercase t). Alternatively, you can click on the Special button and select a special character from the list.
  5. Set other searching parameters, as desired.
  6. Click on Find Next.

Often, you will be searching for other special characters such as breaks and paragraph marks. It can be faster to remember these and type them in rather then looking them up all of the time. The following is a list of the more common special characters:

Special Character Symbol
Paragraph Marker ^p
Manual Page Break ^m
Section Break ^b
Column Break ^n
Em Dash ^+
En Dash ^=
Graphic ^g
Any Character ^?
Any Digit ^#
Any Letter ^$
White Space ^w
Caret Character ^^

You can also use many of these same special characters in the Replace With box when doing a search and replace operation. You cannot, however, use the special white space character (^w) in the Replace With box.

In addition, Word allows you to search for any character as long as you know its ASCII value. (You can find ASCII values for characters in the back of many programming books.) All you need to do is use the caret, followed by a zero and then the three-digit value of the character. For instance, if you wanted to search for a capital A, whose ASCII value is 65, you would use ^0065 as your search string.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (10) 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: Searching for Special Characters.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He  is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

MORE FROM ALLEN

Inserting a Sound File in Your Document

Got an audio file you want to insert in your document? It's easy to do when you use the Object dialog box, as described in ...

Discover More

Calculating an Expanding Square

When doing a systematic search for rescue purposes, it isn't unusual to implement what is termed an "expanding square." This ...

Discover More

Comments in Headers and Footers

Comments can be a necessity when developing documents in conjunction with other people. They can be used to help document ...

Discover More

Comprehensive VBA Guide Visual Basic for Applications (VBA) is the language used for writing macros in all Office programs. This complete guide shows both professionals and novices how to master VBA in order to customize the entire Office suite for their needs. Check out Mastering VBA for Office 2010 today!

More WordTips (menu)

Searching for Text that Does Not Have a Certain Format

You can easily use Find and Replace to find text that has a particular format to it. Most people don't know you can use the ...

Discover More

Pay Attention to Case when Searching for ASCII Codes

Word allows you to search for specific ASCII codes in a document. If you use codes to search for alphabetic characters, you ...

Discover More

Searching for ASCII and ANSI Characters

Need to get down to the "character level" when searching for information in a document. Word allows you to search for any ...

Discover More
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WordTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.

Comments

If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is seven more than 5?

There are currently no comments for this tip. (Be the first to leave your comment—just use the simple form above!)


This Site

Got a version of Word that uses the menu interface (Word 97, Word 2000, Word 2002, or Word 2003)? This site is for you! If you use a later version of Word, visit our WordTips site focusing on the ribbon interface.

Newest Tips
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WordTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.