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: Understanding Pattern Matching.

Understanding Pattern Matching

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated June 18, 2011)

The Find and Replace feature built into Word includes two completely different search engines. In the normal search engine, you search for simple items, such as text or special characters. Tips related to this type of searching have been presented in other issues of WordTips.

The second search engine is the more powerful, however. It uses a search method known as pattern matching. When you use pattern matching you can search for very complex and very subtle character sequences in your document. Unfortunately, learning the pattern matching capabilities of Word can sometimes be frustrating.

How you switch between the two different search engines depends on the version of Word you are using. In most versions of Word you should pull up either the Find or Replace tabs of the Find and Replace dialog box and click on the More button. In the expanded area of the dialog box, make sure the Use Wildcards checkbox is selected. This causes Word to interpret what is in the Find What and Replace With boxes entirely differently than if the checkbox is not selected.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (1183) 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: Understanding Pattern Matching.

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

Triple-Spacing Your Document

Print your document with lots of space between each line—triple space it! Here's some quick and easy steps for getting ...

Discover More

Specifying an Order for Drawing Objects

Drawing objects can be layered over each other in almost any manner you desire. If you want to change the order in which ...

Discover More

Declaring Variables

Macros depend on the use of variables to do their work. This tip examines how variables are declared in a macro, using the ...

Discover More

Create Custom Apps with VBA! Discover how to extend the capabilities of Office 2013 (Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook, and Access) with VBA programming, using it for writing macros, automating Office applications, and creating custom applications. Check out Mastering VBA for Office 2013 today!

More WordTips (menu)

Replacing Spaces in Part Numbers with Dashes

Word has a power capability to search for information and then replace that information in some way. Finding the right method ...

Discover More

Formatting Partial Results of a Search

The Find and Replace capabilities of Word are, simply, quite astounding. This is particularly true when using wildcard ...

Discover More

Searching for Characters

When using pattern matching in a search, you can specify individual characters or ranges of characters you want matched in ...

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 four less than 6?

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.