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

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated May 23, 2019)

2

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. ...

MORE FROM ALLEN

Creating Traditional Forms

Do you use Word to create printed forms? If so, here's some ideas and techniques you can use to make those forms look as ...

Discover More

Counting Commas in a Selection

If you have a range of cells in which you want to count all the commas, there are several ways you can derive the figure ...

Discover More

Shortcuts for Basic Style Formatting

Want to get your text away from the explicit formatting you applied, back to the underlying formatting? Here are a few ...

Discover More

The First and Last Word on Word! Bestselling For Dummies author Dan Gookin puts his usual fun and friendly candor back to work to show you how to navigate Word 2013. Spend more time working and less time trying to figure it all out! Check out Word 2013 For Dummies today!

More WordTips (menu)

Quick and Dirty Paragraph Count

Need to know how many paragraphs are in a document? You can use Word's Find and Replace feature to get a count quickly.

Discover More

Quickly Changing Tab Alignment

Need to change the alignment of some tabs in a multitude of paragraphs? How you approach the problem depends on whether ...

Discover More

Special Differences when Searching

Word includes two different search engines. Which search engine you choose to use will dictate what Word shows as ...

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. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. 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 nine more than 4?

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!


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.