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 Optional Hyphens.

Searching for Optional Hyphens

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated May 23, 2019)
This tip applies to Word 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003


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Optional hyphens are used within a document to indicate a place where a word can be hyphenated, if necessary. If it is not necessary, then the word is not hyphenated at the point of the optional hyphen. These special characters are manually created by pressing Ctrl+- (Ctrl and the hyphen key). They are also inserted by using the Hyphenation tool within Word.

At some point you may want to search for optional hyphens within your document. For instance, you may want to delete them or replace them with some other character, such as a real hyphen. To search for optional hyphens, follow these steps:

  1. Press Ctrl+F. Word displays the Find tab of the Find and Replace dialog box.
  2. In the Find What box, enter ^-. Optionally, you can specify the actual character by clicking on the Special button and selecting Optional Hyphen from the list of special characters. (You may need to click on the More button before you can see the Special button.) (See Figure 1.)
  3. Figure 1. The Find tab of the Find and Replace dialog box.

  4. Set other searching parameters, as desired.
  5. Click on Find Next.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (854) 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 Optional Hyphens.

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?

2019-11-01 01:25:46

Stock

You are the man! Spent 30 minutes in google trying to solve this. Searching for words with an optional hyphen does not work in Word 2016. Replace "^-" with nothing deleted them all. Many thanks!


2014-12-18 12:16:19

Stefanos Tefos

Thank you so much for the very useful tip!


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