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 Multiple Spaces with Tabs.

Replacing Multiple Spaces with Tabs

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated November 4, 2023)
This tip applies to Word 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003


You may receive a document from someone that uses multiple spaces to separate items on a line. This is typically done when a person wants to format tabular material, and separates columns using spaces. You can find this quite a bit in information downloaded from the Web.

If you are starting with a source document in this condition, you may be wondering how you can replace all the consecutive spaces with a single tab character. It is possible to go through multiple search-and-replace operations to achieve the desired goal, but there is a quicker way. You can replace any number of consecutive spaces with a single tab character by following these steps:

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

  4. In the Find What box, enter a single space followed by the characters {2,}. (Type only the left brace, the number 2, the comma, and the right brace.)
  5. In the Replace With box, type ^t.
  6. Make sure the Use Wildcards check box is selected.
  7. Click on Replace All.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (851) 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 Multiple Spaces with Tabs.

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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