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: When Replace Doesn't Work.

When Replace Doesn't Work

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated May 25, 2022)
This tip applies to Word 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003


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When you try to replace text in your document using Find and Replace, things may not always work as you would expect. If they don't, check these factors:

  • Have you made a selection of text? If so, the replace operation will work only within that selection.
  • Have you cleared the formatting? (Unless the formatting is necessary for what you are trying to do.)
  • Did you spell the Find What and Replace With text correctly?
  • Are the search modifiers (match case and whole word) selected properly?

If these factors are set properly and it still doesn't work properly, then you should exit Word and restart the program. You will then be able to perform the replace anew, with Word in a "fresh" condition.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (26) 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: When Replace Doesn't Work.

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. ...

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What is two more than 9?

2021-07-01 18:15:36

Matthew Dunn

Why can't I use ^ in the "Replace With" box? Word says it's not a valid special character.


2021-04-15 11:55:30

Jessica

I encountered a find/replace scenario that wasn't working the other day. I was trying to replace one DocProperty field with another that I had copied to the clipboard (^c in the Replace with field). I would do the replace and the value reflected the new property, however, when I updated the fields they reverted. I toggled field codes and did the replace and saw that it was not actually replacing, so I'm not sure why the value of the new field code appeared. Very strange behavior. I discovered that I had to select the Use Wildcard option to make it work. I don't understand why because I didn't have any wildcards in the Find What field. I don't believe that I've had to check that field when replace text strings with clipboard contents, but maybe I'm wrong.


2021-04-14 08:56:27

C Solomon

Super helpful. Closing and reopening Word solved my problem. Sometimes I overlook the simple solutions. Thank you!!!


2020-09-04 15:48:52

April Ellis

THANK YOU so much! You just saved me a huge amount of time fixing a document on the Friday before the long Labor Day weekend! Really appreciate it.


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